When it comes to non-negotiable marketing tasks and responsibilities, website content ranks near the top of the list. Without quality website content, it’s impossible for you to engage your audience or cultivate a strong SEO presence that garners traffic and leads. With it, you can accomplish almost any marketing objective you set before your team.
But with so many other responsibilities on your plate, how do you develop content that’s true to your brand and compelling to your target audience? It’s a question worth exploring in further detail.
Website Content Writing: Your 3 Basic Options
There’s no singular method for developing website content. Every business must make a decision that fits their budget, processes, and larger marketing goals. Having said that, there are three common options companies turn to for generating site content:
- DIY. The first option is to handle website content writing yourself. Startups and small businesses often view this is an attractive option, simply because it’s free. And while this is true, the opportunity cost is significant. Content writing takes time – time that could be applied to other key areas of business.
- Hire (in-house). The second option is to hire a full-time marketing employee to handle content writing tasks (as well as responsibilities like social media, graphic design, SEO, etc.). While there may come a time when you need to build out or expand your marketing department, this comes with a ton of direct and indirect costs. If you’re just looking for website content, this is far more expensive and involved than necessary.
- Outsource. The third option is outsourcing your website content writing to a content marketing firm. This is becoming an increasingly popular option and is the one that we’d recommend looking into.
The Benefits of Outsourcing Content Writing
Most entrepreneurs and small business owners ultimately come down to the choice between doing content themselves or outsourcing it to a content writer. Within this context, outsourcing typically makes more sense. Here’s why:
- Saves time. Content writing takes a lot of time. From brainstorming ideas and writing to copy-editing and publishing, you can spend an entire workweek developing website content and still not even scratch the surface of what needs to be done. By outsourcing, you’re able to save time and reserve your schedule for other important tasks that can only be handled by you.
- Better quality. You might be a decent writer, but you aren’t a professional content writer. In the world of content marketing, your best might only be average. Do you really want to spend all that time creating average content for your website? Probably not. You get what you pay for. Outsourcing is typically worth the upfront investment.
- Fresh perspective. There’s something to be said for working with someone outside of your company. They bring a unique perspective that will infuse your brand with a sense of freshness and creativity.
Outsourcing Content: The Pitfalls and Mistakes to Avoid
Anytime you outsource a key business activity, you’re giving up some degree of control or influence over the process. There are also certain unknown variables that come into play. Content writing is no different.
In order to make this process go as smoothly as possible, you’ll want to avoid the following pitfalls and mistakes.
- Not Using U.S.-Based Content Writers
Have you ever read website copy or blog posts where something just doesn’t add up? You can’t seem to put your finger on it. For the most part, everything looks normal. However, there’s the occasional word that’s used incorrectly, a singular form of a word when it should be plural, a missing conjunction, etc.
While these symptoms could be byproducts of any number of issues, they often emerge in situations where the content writer doesn’t speak English as a first language. And as subtle as the issues are, they have a way of destroying clarity and flow.
When outsourcing your content needs, you’ll run across a lot of cheap services that use writers who speak English as a second language. Sometimes this isn’t a big deal, but it can create issues. You’re far better off paying for U.S.-based content. It might cost you a little more, but it’s worth it.
- Failing to Articulate Your Content Needs
The hardest part about hiring a content writer is that they don’t already know your brand. They aren’t living and breathing your business day-in and day-out, which means you have to catch them up to speed.
Without a doubt, the hardest projects for content writers to complete are the ones where very little direction is provided. It’s not enough to tell a writer that you need 1,000 words of copy for your homepage. You should tell them exactly what you’re looking for, where they can find information to research your business, and what sort of voice or style you’re looking for.
If this is your first time outsourcing content creation, it’s wise to develop a style guide that you can pass along. This prevents confusion, unnecessary back-and-forth, and excessive revisions.
- Giving Too Much Detail and Direction
There’s a fine line between failing to articulate your content needs and giving too much information. The latter is dangerous for a couple of specific reasons.
- First off, it takes a lot of time and energy to supply a content writer with directions. If you’re going to spend hours developing outlines, resources, and style guides, why not just finish the job and write the content yourself?
- Secondly, too much detail can freeze a writer and compromise their ability to think creatively. If you aren’t careful, you’ll end up establishing so many parameters that the content ends up feeling forced and predictable.
Supply your content writers with basic information that you believe is necessary. However, resist the temptation to hold their hands every step of the way. Leave room for the writer to work a little magic.
- Only Hiring a Writer
It’s a mistake to think that you only need to hire a content writer. There’s a lot more that goes into website content than just a few words of copy-pasted into a text box. This is a complex marketing endeavor that requires a collection of people. In fact, you may need all of the following (in addition to a writer):
- Editor. Even the most talented copywriters need editors to review their work. It’s important that at least two sets of eyes review a piece of copy before it’s published. This is especially true when it’s something as permanent as website copy. (Just a single typo can convey a lack of professionalism to your visitors.)
- Designer. Visual content is everything in today’s marketing world. In addition to written copy, it’s helpful to have a graphic designer involved in developing complementary visuals.
- SEO. Website copy serves a couple of distinct purposes. First off, it helps you convey your brand message to your website visitors and push them through the conversion funnel from awareness to purchase. Secondly, it communicates to Google what your business is about and whom you’re targeting. In light of this, it’s a smart idea to have a search engine optimization guru involved in the content creation process.
- Project manager. With so many different moving parts involved, it’s helpful to have a project manager on the team. This individual will set deadlines, communicate objectives, and get everyone on the same page.
As you read through this list, you’re probably thinking, “We can’t afford that!” And while this may be true, don’t assume that your only option is to go out and hire these professionals on an individual basis. By working with a content writing service, you typically have access to some or all of these professionals in one bundled package.
- Failing to Measure and Optimize
Your job isn’t done when you hit the publish button and your website goes live. While much of the heavy lifting is in the rearview mirror, there’s still much to be done. Don’t make the mistake of failing to measure or optimize your content. Doing so could limit the efficacy of your content both now and down the road.
There are numerous ways to measure the success of your content. You can look at basic metrics like conversions, average time on page, bounce rates, opt-ins, etc. But there will also be some custom key performance indicators (KPIs) that you use to gauge your results. Figure out what matters most to your brand and track these measurements from week-to-week and month-to-month.
How to Find the Right Outsourced Content Partner
When it comes to hiring an outsourced content partner, you have a couple of options. You can go with a freelance copywriter, or you can hire a content writing service. Most businesses that have done both would recommend the latter option. In doing so, you essentially add an independent marketing arm to your business, without the additional cost of bringing content writers in-house.