Admittedly, as a content writer for an awesome marketing agency, I am a little biased on this topic. But that’s because I often see businesses creating their own literature, and while the intentions are good, the quality of the writing and the delivery of the message could be so much more impactful.
There are, of course, instances where a content writer can only do so much, particularly when it comes to writing about very technical aspects of a product or service. This is when the creation process needs to be firmly collaborative, and communication between the client and the writer must be clear and accurate.
One thing is inevitable, however: for your inbound marketing to bring in the ROI you expect, your content writing game needs to be on point. Whether you outsource to a freelancer, a specialist marketing agency, or hire in-house, your website needs valuable content assets that appeal to your audience at every stage of the buyer’s journey.
Be clear about your goal
Before you make a decision on which avenue to go down, you have to be clear about what it is you’re looking for and why. A lot of the confusion comes from not understanding the difference between a copywriter and a content writer, and while the two can be interchangeable and work cohesively, there is a clear distinction between their purpose:
Copywriter: Sell. Sell. Sell. Copywriters are skilled in creating high-value content that sells your brand. These folks work hard on formulating attention-grabbing headings, using clear, language that gets your audience to take a desired action.
Content writer: A guiding light; the role of a content writer is to compose content that educates potential customers about your products and services through blogs, articles and press releases. They focus on helping rather than direct selling to your audience.
Should you create your content in-house?
An in-house content writer can get hyper-focused on building a strong knowledge of your products or services which will help them to come up with a consistent voice for your brand.
For large businesses that have an established customer base and enough budget to allocate to a content creation team, this may be a viable option. Your content writer will be able to fully integrate into the business and help to generate material quickly with a greater degree of flexibility than would a freelancer or agency handling multiple clients.
Essentially, when deciding to bring someone into the business, the crux of the matter is:
- whether they are the right fit for your company,
- if they have the appropriate skillset,
- you have the budget to add him or her to the payroll, and,
- the volume of content you intend on publishing is enough to keep your new employee engaged.
For niche industries and B2B businesses, you may find that an in-house content writer is your best option for ensuring that your literature is precise and tailored to your particular audience.
Your time is valuable, and eventually, the demands of a growing business will require you to delegate some tasks to specialists. Generating ideas for content, writing the actual copy, proofreading, optimising it for search engines and then doing it all again the next day is a multifaceted, time-consuming activity.
Successful digital marketers recognise that frequent, high-quality content output has a strong correlation with ROI. This is because 70% of internet users prefer to learn about your offering through online content instead of traditional advertising. You have to not only satisfy your customers’ technical questions, but also offer some kind of value and insight into your business and how you will meet their expectations – oh, and you have to achieve this without being too pushy, aggressive and car-salesman-ish. It’s a tough balance to get right and a fairly big task for a content writer.
Depending on where your business is financially, however, it might simply not make sense to create a dedicated role for this purpose. This is where you should consider working with an agency that specialises in lead generation so that all your content can be geared towards building your audience and getting people through the sales funnel effectively. An agency will assess the current state of your website, your CTAs, your existing assets and the buyer personas you are trying to engage. From that point on, they will produce content in a language that appeals to the right people in the most permeating way.
It’s tempting to say, “But hang on, I know my customers, I know my business, I don’t need to pay anyone to write a couple of blogs for me.” But inbound content goes so much deeper than just publishing a blog on your website, and an agency can make sure that you don’t waste any time on poorly curated content or isolate your website visitors with hard-sale copy at the very beginning of the customer journey.
Another benefit to outsourcing is that it’s more cost effective and less time consuming to find the right agency than risk going through the hiring, training and induction process with a new employee that may not even deliver the results you’re after. Your content is a reflection of your business, so choosing the right person – someone who will really get under the hood of your brand message and implement the best plan to align your CTAs, your social media calendars, your blogs, whitepapers and case studies with your business goals – is crucial.
Lastly, all else aside, you need to have the willingness to write – every day – and it’s not always going to be things you’re interested in. Consistency is key when you decide to mobilise your marketing efforts towards a strong content strategy, so working with someone who is going to plan, organise and align your content with your business goals is more likely to succeed than just merely publishing ad hoc blogs and the occasional social media post.
What it comes down to
The route you choose will reflect the current position and needs of your business. These factors are the primary influencers when it comes to outsourcing content writing or producing it in-house:
- The amount of time to write, proof, publish and generate new ideas.
- A genuine desire to write.
- The budget to hire new staff or appoint a freelancer or agency.
- The complexity of the subject and the depth you need to go into for the content to be beneficial to the reader.
- A natural affinity or talent for writing.
There are some very skilful and industry-specific freelance writers available out there; however, you may have to endure a long trial and error period until you find the right one for your business. Furthermore, because they work independently for other clients, you may not always be top of their priority list.
Hiring in is an excellent option if you have the resources and the volume of work to justify the commitment, but make sure you’ve got the right person for the job.
The pros of partnering with an agency are instant access to resources, talent and expertise under one roof. Any agency worth its salt will work with you to set targets for your content and report regularly on the traffic your marketing assets attract, demonstrating the value being created for your business, which you can then share with stakeholders.
If you’d like to find out more about creating fantastic blog content that helps to drive traffic and generate leads, check out our free eBook, ‘The Beginner’s Guide to Blogging for Business’.