When should a company outsource content marketing, and when should they keep it in-house? This is one of the first questions to answer when setting up a content marketing structure at your company.
For many, it’s easy. Writing is one of the tasks that marketers are most comfortable outsourcing (81% do it, according to Statista). But are there times when it makes sense to keep your entire content marketing pipeline in-house?
To help you decide what’s right for you, we used an unbiased service, Terkel, to ask a variety of content marketing professionals and business leaders. We’ve collected their perspectives on when to outsource content marketing here.
First up, the scenarios when it makes sense to outsource content marketing, according to our survey.
Dan Taylor SEO recommends you outsource content marketing when you need top-of-funnel content. This type of content builds awareness for your business and generally requires less product knowledge. He says:
“I've been fortunate to work with a number of high-profile SaaS companies over the years, from Cloudflare to ProtonMail, and the most important consideration I've come across when producing blog content is to understand and determine the audience.
More generic acquisition content targeting awareness and the TOFU users can be outsourced and scaled, leaving in-house writers to pursue topics closer to the brand, articles focused on customer retention, and refining content based on product updates and features.”
Top-of-funnel content is a powerful asset when it comes to growing awareness through SEO, and it’s easily outsourced.
Have you ever heard “If you build it, they will come?” Well, that’s not likely when it comes to your blog. It’s important that you optimize your content for SEO.
Amanda Napitu, of Improving Your English, explains that a lot more goes into building an optimized blog than just writing:
“Some people imagine that blogging is a simple task that almost anybody can do on the side. The reality is that to do it well, especially if you want your blogs to be optimized for search engines, it requires specialist knowledge and skills.
You also need to consider who will be responsible for proofreading, formatting and publishing your blogs. And who will take care of on-page SEO and promoting the content once published? If you outsource just the writing part, you will still need to cover all these tasks in-house.”
Luckily, outsourcing to a blogging agency like SaaSpirin means you can rely on our team for content marketing tasks like topic research, writing, editing and proofreading, and even publishing. Our process is proven, often doubling or tripling our clients’ blog traffic from SEO in six months.
If you’re going to outsource writing, then it’s important to have access to a writer who can project their voice as an expert. After all, they’re ghostwriting for you. As Giselle Aguiar, of AZ Social Media Wiz, points out:
“Anyone who is a good researcher or journalist can research a topic and write an article. However, they come from the voice of a reporter, rather than the voice of an expert. It's best to find someone well-versed in your industry or field.”
Thankfully, writers who can project their voices as experts are not as difficult to find as you might think.
Even when you feel your industry is too nuanced and difficult for an external writer, there’s a good chance that it’s not. Writers can be found with experience in every field, and many are able to adapt based on adjacent industries they’ve written for in the past.
Do you have people at your company who can write? Too often their time may be taken up by or better spent on other tasks.
It’s not unheard of for an in-house team of writers to be consumed by updating product documentation and preparing promotional materials, for example. And unfortunately, the blog is the one piece that starts to slip behind.
Nina Paczka, of Resume Now, explains how an in-house content team may evolve so that it no longer makes sense for them to handle the company blog.
“Over time and for various reasons, your team’s efficiency may decline. Old team members have decided to change jobs, new ones aren't feeling the vibe, or you're running out of fresh perspective. That's when efficiency and quality start to decline, driving up costs. If such a scenario occurs in your company, it is worth outsourcing blogging to external writers.”
Tip: A popular solution among some of our clients at SaaSpirin is to outsource content marketing to us to remove the burden from their staff. Then they produce additional content when it makes sense for their team, knowing their blog will continue on track even when they are busy.
These are the scenarios when it makes sense to produce your own content from start to finish.
True thought leadership is rarely as powerful when outsourced. That’s because its power comes from the experience and perspectives the author has accumulated. The reader can sense when it’s the real deal.
Matthew Ramirez of Rephrasely agrees:
“If the company is looking to establish thought leadership in their industry, then it may be worth keeping the blogging in-house. (If, however, the company is looking to save time and money, then outsourcing the blog may be the best option. In this case, it is important to find a reputable and experienced blogger who can produce high-quality content that aligns with the company's brand.)”
Of course, the real cost of content marketing for thought leadership is high. After all, it’s often the company founder who must produce the content.
If you’ve got someone on your team who knows their way around content marketing, then make use of them. This may be a way to dip your toes into blogging or content creation for social media.
“If you have an expert on your team, use them,” says Monte Deere, of Kizik.
He goes on to say, “Otherwise, outsource your content marketing. If no one on your staff has in-depth experience in this area, you can outsource this writing more affordably than if your full-time team member took the time to learn this craft. Leave the SEO blog writing to the professionals. Successful blog writing is not just writing content, but also incorporating the relevant keywords so the article has a chance at ranking high enough to be seen at all.”
While it’s true that it’s very time-consuming to learn content marketing, sometimes the topics you want to write about suit an in-house writer better. Like when you need detailed product knowledge.
Some of your content may be best suited to staff writers. They don’t need to be full-time writers, but could instead take the form of engineers who write about technical specs, customer service reps who answer FAQs, or a product team that explains new updates in your blog.
Heather Green of Ketchum has found success using in-house writers familiar with the brand and relying on publishers to get exposure for their content.
“The most successful content programs I have managed have involved a mixture of in-house teams (to reach our 1st party audiences) and publishers (to reach 2nd and 3rd party audiences).
Blogging should be executed by in-house teams who live and breathe the brand. Outsourcing this content to third parties - even with a strong brief - often results in lower-quality content that just doesn't resonate authentically. Scale can be achieved through publishers who work with your brand to understand goals and KPIs and create a collaborative scale. It's a balance.”
This type of content can be published in-house. Then, when you’re ready to lean more toward customer acquisition and building awareness through SEO content, you can find an external team.
Sometimes the culture of your company is reason enough to keep your content marketing operations in-house.
Thomas Yuan of Sanebox mentions how company knowledge can be held more tightly if you don’t outsource content marketing.
“Protecting intellectual property is a primary reason to keep company blogging in-house. A freelance blogger might have a great portfolio, but they typically don’t have a particular allegiance to any one organization. Even if they are honest and trustworthy, they could be approached by competitors to share their knowledge and experience from past work. An in-house marketing team is great to exercise more control over the company narrative and secrets.”
If you feel uncomfortable sharing information like target personas with a content marketing vendor, then you're better off handling it in-house.
As you can see, you don’t have to answer a firm yes or no. You can outsource some, all, or none of your content. And your answer may be different in a few months.
Benjamin Gold, Senior Content Strategist at PMG sums up the discussion: “Outsourcing content creation can be a fantastic idea depending on the size of your team, budget, and organization. It allows you to channel your company resources into non-content tasks such as building funnels, collaborating with sales, and strategy creation.”
In other words, outsourcing content marketing will let you keep your blog on track while focusing on other work. If you’re ready to give it a try, get to know more about SaaSpirin.