Content is king. As of 2018, 91% of B2B companies are using content marketing to reach new and existing customers. It clearlty works, but it can be difficult to create quality content on a consistent basis. Outsourcing quality blog content is critically important to businesses that want content marketing to work, but it's hard to pull off.
This article will show you how to outsource quality blog content on any budget.
Case Study: $1,318 for 17 Articles
Let me show you a quick example of some work I outsourced and have since been able to really review in hindsight.
From 2016-2018 I experimented with some affordable content here at EntreResource.
Note: In 2019 I hired my own content marketing assistant who is doing articles for me. I am currently no longer using the other services I used for these 17 posts.
My process was simple...
- I did the keyword research
- I found a writer
- I gave them examples of what I wanted
- I improved their work
- I published it to my site myself
I spent an average of $77.57 per article.
I used 3 different sources for writers for the 17 articles I outsourced.
#1 Family Members
My cousin Brad is a great author and freelancer so I hired him for a handful of posts. He's still on Freelancer.com if you want to hire him.
TextBroker is an easy and affordable option for hiring writers. Good, not great.
#3 Constant Content
Similar to TextBroker, Constant Content is another good but not great option
Most posts were between 1,000 and 2,000 words.
Here are the 15 posts I outsourced and actually used. Although I bought 17 articles.
Note: There were 2 posts that I never published.
Here are the results.
It's been long enough now to really get a good idea of what sort of results these articles produced.
I ran the URLs through AHREFs Batch Analysis and it gave me this...
The totals here were...
The big question, "was it worth it?"
The answer, it was absolutely worth the $1,318 and time invested.
Although they weren't all high quality, the backlinks alone were worth much more than I paid for the content.
As far as income generated, I (shamefully) didn't track that data deeply.
Particularly because most of the posts weren't focused on high buyer intent terms. The goal wasn't to make money on the front end with most of these posts, it was to drive relevant traffic and build authority.
My Outsourcing Process
There's more than one way to skin a cat (gross analogy by the way, I should really find a new one) and there is more than one way to outsource content.
Here is my typical proces for about 80% of my outsourced content.
Step 1 Find the Blog Post Topics
I'm hiring writers and I don't expect them to understand exactly the type of content my readers want or how to do proper keyword research. I spend a good bit of time doing keyword research and finding the blog post topics before I reach out to my writers. One thing to note is that I only outsource "dry" topics. If something interests me or is something I am uniquely qualified to share, I'll write it myself.
Step 2 Create An Outline
I give my writers a good idea of what the post should look like. I make the skeleton and they fill in the guts.
Step 3 Find Writer
I try to find a writer with experience on the topic if possible, but this isn't always mandatory.
Step 4 Review and Edit Content
Sometimes the content is so bad I have to ask for a total rewrite. If the content is ok, I will fix minor spelling, grammar and formating errors myself.
Step 5 Format and Publish
My content is almost always provided to me in a Google Doc. I take the content and paste it into Thrive Archtect and beautify it to fit my brand. I then complete all the basic SEO best practices and publish.
Best Practices for Outsourcing Blog Content
If you want to protect your brand image, and save serious time and money, follow these steps.
#1 Know Your Numbers
One of the reasons outsourcing content can be so difficult is that it can be very hard to quantify the value of the work you're investing in.
If you pay $1,000 for 5 blog posts, you're surely expecting that they provide a $1,000+ value in return to your business, right? But how are you measuring that return?
- Gross traffic?
- Revenue (direct, affiliate or adsense)?
- Something else?
Tools like Google Analytics make it possible to really see how much revenue a certain piece of content is really driving.
If you're serious about outsourcing content, you should get serious about knowing your numbers and having a professional set up Google Analytics conversions and tags.
#2 Fight the Urge to Go Cheap
Remember, you get what you pay for.
If you know that the content is going to have value, make sure it is in the hands of someone who will give it justice.
There is an inverse correlation between the cost of your writers and the amount of extra work you need to put in to make the work meet your standards.
Go extremely cheap and you'll be spending a lot of time cleaning it up. Go high end and you'll spend little to no time on it.
How much do freelance writers actually cost?
It depends on many variables. Some writers charge per word while others charge set fees. As a rule of thumb, I've found that quality US writers rarely work for less than $20/hour and a quality article of over 1,000 words is difficult to get for under $50. You can pay far more than this but I wouldn't suggest going much below it.
I like something in the middle for this blog since the content quality is extremely important to me.
I hire great but not excellent writers and then I publish and improve the content manually.
If I were creating a micro niche site or something I wasn't deeply invested in, I'd go cheaper and also invest less time into the formatting/editing. I'd focus almost entirely on the keyword research and let the writers do the rest.
#3 Check Past Work Examples and Reviews
Interviews cannot give you a good enough idea of a freelancer's content quality. The best way to predict the success of your potential ghostwriter is by their past work.
If you're hiring on a large platform like Upwork, pay close attention to comments regarding the freelancer's ability to follow instructions and meet deadlines.
#4 Be Very Detailed with Your Instructions
You want your content to match your own style, so you need to be as clear to the freelancer as is possible. Take time on this, remember, you are saving a ton of time so you have a little to spare on this. It is important.
I always include "skyscraper articles." These are the posts that are similar to what I'm writing and that typically hold the top spots in Google for the keywords and phrases I'm targeting.
#5 Work with Lots of Writers at First Then Very Few Going Forward
Ideally, you will find one or two that really resonate with you and do a fantastic job. Don't assume that the first writer you hire is the best there is. There are a lot of benefits though to finding a long term writer such as consistency in future tone and style and understanding of work expected.
Once you find one or two that really do a great job and understand your overall tone and purpose it is ideal to work with them continually going forward. You will better understand what to expect from them and you will have a decent amount of continuity in your writing styles.
#6 Check for Plagiarism Thoroughly
You're on the hook for any plagiarized content that your given by freelance writers.
To check for plagiarism I use and recommend ProWriting Aid.
Where to Find Writers
There are a lot of great places to find and hire writers for one time or recurring work.
Buying Pre-Written Content
You can also buy the rights to pre-written content. I do not do this or recommend it unless you're willing to put in a lot of extra work to clean up content.
The only time I'd do this is for a micro sites that mean much less to me than my foundational sites.
Pros of PLR Content
Cons of PLR Content
Some websites that sell PLR blog content include...
Now you know where to find the help you need. It is up to you to be sure that you never hire work that hinders your brand's image. Never sacrifice your brands value for fast content.
Always proofread, fact check and run all articles through a plagiarism checker before sharing them with your audience.
- The hourly rate requested on sites like Upwork is almost always much higher than a writer will take for content. Don't be afraid to negotiate fixed prices.
- Avoid paying hourly if possible until you find someone who is worth bringing onto your team permanently.
- Don't get sloppy and forget to review the content you outsource for quality and accuracy.
- Some posts simply shouldn't be outsourced. Writing about your own opinions or personal experiences is something you should spend the time on yourself or shouldn't publish at all.
- Remember that you don't have to publish purchased content in your own name. Consider allowing your outsourced content to be published under a different authors name. I do this for writers who have different styles than mine so my readers don't think I've had a head injury or something that permanently changed my personality.
- The long term goal should be to hire someone who can work for you full time and do everything from A-Z. They should eventually be able to do keyword research, format to fit your brand and publish posts inside of WordPress using best SEO practices.
Thoughts? Questions? Concerns?
As always, fire up any comments you have below! I respond personally to all of them (although outsourcing comment replies is something you might want to consider yourself).