Should You Outsource or Insource Your Content?

Should You Outsource or Insource Your Content?

Tom Slipkus
September 20, 2019

Every experienced marketer knows how important content is. By regularly creating and publishing valuable content, you help your business drive more organic traffic, leads, and revenue.

As you are already aware of, revenue is something that almost no business can function without. However, not many people realize how important it is to have a content marketing strategy in place to boost that revenue.

The ones who do, are faced with a major issue concerning their content marketing journey. To publish frequently and effectively, one can choose from two options:

  • Should I pay a third-party to write content for us?
  • Should I instill a certain culture in the workplace where the team members would have to create content?

As the issue itself isn’t simple, it’s not easy to choose between these two options. The following article will try to help you solve this dilemma. So, read on and find out what the pros and cons of these two options are.

But first, let’s quickly revise a couple of terms you will see in the text. Hiring a third-party to generate content is called content outsourcing, whereas having someone from your team do that is called content insourcing.

Now that you have understood the difference, dive in to discover more on the topic.

Content outsourcing

The concept of content outsourcing is rather straightforward. You, as a company, can outsource your content production to a third-party. In other words, you hire someone and pay them specifically to create content for your company.

You can find freelancers or you can also choose to rely on content marketing agencies. Some would argue that you will get better articles from agencies, but it is possible to find outstanding individuals who work on their own just as well.

If that sounds like a good idea, check out the following advantages and disadvantages of content outsourcing.

A platter of options

There are three ways to outsource your content:

  • find and hire niche contract writers through LinkedIn and other networks
  • subscribe to a writing platform where the talent comes to you
  • have an agency do all the work for you

When you combine these channels, you are actually allowing yourself to tap into a pool of writers of multiple specializations, styles, and skill levels.

Scalability (pro)

Many companies leverage outsourced content creation due to one crucial reason – it works well with scaling.

When you have hundreds of thousands of writers available, you can get multiple pieces of content worked on at the same time.

So, if you need a higher frequency of articles, this is surely something you will find useful.

Low initial investment (pro)

If you decide to work directly with freelancers on a per article basis, the initial costs are quite feasible compared to hiring an experienced, in-house content manager.

For example, costs for articles in the 1,000-word range will generally set you back for around $300 per article. So, two articles per week would cost you around $600, which is around $2,400 per month.

But know that this level of feasibility doesn’t apply when working with agencies to create content.

Cost variables (con)

Even though outsourcing brings lower initial investment, it can become difficult to predict exactly how much you are going to spend over time.

Your need for content will most likely increase as your business grows. Accordingly, your outsourced expenses will increase too.

You can never know if you will expand into writing newsletters, ebooks, social posts, and other forms of content, aside from blog articles. What’s more, if you don’t get the content the way you wanted it from your freelancers, you may have to pay additional fees seeing that some platforms charge extra for revisions.

Risk of plagiarism (con)

Unfortunately, some writers resort to desperate measures when they receive a task they can’t handle and some even think that cheating will go unnoticed. Either way, plagiarism is a real threat.

When you decide to hire someone, a freelancer, for instance, you are hiring a person you don’t know, and you may be in for a surprise. Copying other people’s work is a practice some ‘writers’ resort to, so you will have to watch out for that.

Fortunately, some writing platforms have integrated tools that scan the work of their writers for plagiarism. You can use software tools as well to scan articles and check whether or not the piece has been copied.

Reliability (con)

It happens too often that writers you find on LinkedIn or UpWork have other gigs to tend to aside from yours.

In various cases, these writers are not exclusive to a single channel or even a single profession. For example, some of them freelance just to earn some extra cash and don’t rely on the profession as their primary source of income.

What does this mean for you? In reality, you could encounter missed deadlines, scrappy work, and even no-shows (meaning you don’t get the article piece at all).

This risk exists in other forms of content production too, and the same thing can happen when hiring an agency or in-house writers. However, the chances are drastically lower when you have someone at your company doing all the writing.

Content insourcing

If you’re not too eager to outsource your content, you could go for content insourcing. Content insourcing includes hiring someone to be in the office, whose job is to write whatever you need.

Alternatively, you could also assign writing tasks to people from your team, from time to time or even regularly. It all depends on the needs of the business.

Companies that have done content insourcing the right way usually have the following features in common:

  • They have a content manager who is in charge of managing the content production process.
  • Their content strategy is well-crafted and aligned with the overall philosophy of the business.
  • They encourage collaboration between all departments (sales, service, marketing, and so on).

Still, there are a few pros and cons we should discuss before you opt for content insourcing.

No third-party dependency (pro)

When you create a system for content production within the company, you don’t have to rely on a third-party.

That means you won’t have to worry about losing touch with the writer, price inflation, or other common problems among freelancers.

If someone from your current team leaves, you can always find another person to fill the position. The system is already there, you just need another writer and that’s it.

Costs management (pro)

The initial investment will be greater, but you will easily manage all costs coming from your content manager and their writers.

When you have a well-structured team that produces quality content, you will not only produce content at a stable price, but you will also leverage other subject matter experts that are already on the team. That is, you won’t have to pay more to get more.

Also, if you need even more content, you won’t have to hire more people. You’ll just require more time from your writers to catch up with the growing need.

Better control growth (pro)

When you build such a system within your company, you will have a level of control that otherwise isn’t accessible from an outsourcing perspective.

When you go for content insourcing, you can turn up the intensity of work when needed and tweak the output when results need improving. This kind of agility is something you can’t do easily with freelance writers.

Bigger initial investment (con)

Well, you probably figured this one out by yourself.

Content insourcing is a more holistic and long-term game. Hence, it will cost more on the front end and take a bit more time and effort to implement.

The biggest cost will most likely be paying the content manager. Content managers earn a good buck, so be prepared to splash out if you want quality content.

Once you hire a content manager, you need to allow the person some time to get familiar with the company and team members.

No organizational buy-in (con)

All parties (from executives to marketing and sales) are brought into and aligned well on the vision of content as a main driver of growth.

However, this can be a challenge since companies often don’t understand what content marketing is, how it is done effectively, and why each individual at the company should be a part of it.

Each person that contributes to the content efforts needs to understand the vision, which is sometimes quite difficult to achieve.

Tom Slipkus is a writer and content strategist who helps B2B companies and agencies develop content around a wide range of topics. He specializes in writing mid and bottom-funnel articles that educate and engage audiences, helping increase traffic, get more subscribers and turn readers into loyal customers.

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