Insource or outsource? If you’re wondering whether you should outsource your content marketing, here are all the reasons the answer is yes.
Content marketing is a huge part of a company’s marketing effort. It takes talent, time, and experience to create consistent, high quality content and many businesses find it difficult to do so in house. One solution to outsource this work. Is it right for you? Let’s find out. (Spoiler alert: the answer is probably yes)
Insourcing vs Outsourcing
You probably know the difference between “insourcing” and “outsourcing,” but just in case you don’t, here are the basics (from Investopedia):
“Outsourcing is the process of hiring an outside organization that is not affiliated with the company to complete specific tasks. Insourcing, on the other hand, is a business practice performed within the operational infrastructure of the organization. The main difference between outsourcing and insourcing is the methods in which work, projects, or tasks are divided between various companies and departments for strategic purposes.”
In other words, insourcing is work done by in-house employees and outsourcing is paying an agency, consultant, or freelancer to do it. Typically, companies outsource things like manufacturing, production, packaging, and advertising while they insource sales, research and development, and product management (I know this is not always the case. Don’t @ me*). Outsourcing is mainly a way to keep costs down, and has other benefits as well.
Outsourcing your content marketing
There are different ways to work with a content company. One of these is having the content provider implement your existing strategy and create work based on your internal parameters. Another is to have them create and execute an entire strategy from scratch. Then there’s a spectrum in between. You can outsource all your content, some of it, or none of it.
If you’re wondering if you should outsource some or all of your company’s content marketing, below is a list of reasons why you should. I considered making this one of those lists of “pros and cons” for insourcing vs outsourcing that ultimately tips the balance in favour of the thing we, as a small content company, are trying to sell, but that seemed like a long, disingenuous way of getting to the point. Here, instead, are some reasons why outsourcing your content is an awesome idea and you should totally do it.
1. It’s cheaper
When calculating the cost of a new hire, wages are only the base cost. An employer in Canada (par example) also must make contributions to Canada Pension Plan (CPP) and employment insurance premiums, and pay for other expenses, like office space, benefits, holidays, vacation time, sick days, and training and onboarding. Numbers will vary but, according to Quickbooks, some analysts say you should account for 1.2 to 1.4 times an employee’s salary when calculating their actual cost. But it’s really a lot more than that, because you also pay for all the time your employee spends not working during work hours. In fact, a 2016 survey found that, in an eight-hour day, the average worker is only productive for two hours and 53 minutes. So, for an employee making $60,000 (or $30/hr rounded up from $28.84), you’re paying for 25 unproductive hours a week, a loss of $39,000 a year.
The most popular unproductive activities listed were as follows:
- Reading news websites (1 hour, 5 minutes)
- Checking social media (44 minutes)
- Discussing non-work-related things with co-workers (40 minutes)
- Searching for new jobs (26 minutes)
- Taking smoke breaks (23 minutes)
- Making calls to partners or friends (18 minutes)
- Making hot drinks (17 minutes)
- Texting or instant messaging (14 minutes)
- Eating snacks (8 minutes)
- Making food in office (7 minutes)
People often seem to think the way to save on content costs is to toss the work at junior employees who lack the talent and skills to do it well, or try to recruit expert-level talent at entry-level salaries. This is a terrible idea, because at the end of the day you will get what you pay for.
With a good and trustworthy contractor or freelancer you pay for only the work that gets done. You don’t have to hire, train and onboard us, or pay us for our vacations or lunches, and we scroll Instagram and make
cocktails hot beverages on our own dime.
It scales better and is more flexible
Sometimes you need a lot of content, sometimes you need a little. A fast-growing startup might need a big burst at first to populate a website and blog, and then need significantly less for the next while. Doing this internally means you wind up with one of a few scenarios: with one chronically overworked employee; hiring, training, and onboarding employees for short term contracts; or hiring full-time permanent employees that have to be laid off less than a year later — then having to hire more when the need for another content burst arises. Save this headache by building a relationship with a contractor with the resources to provide what you need when you need it.
As your needs change, an agency can hire or bring in more or fewer people, including designers and other talent. If your industry is one in which it makes sense to invest in more content at certain times of year, outsourcing is the best way to meet these needs when they arise and scale back when they ebb. Outsourcing companies are also responsible for training these people, so you don’t have to spend your time and energy onboarding when things need to ramp up.
You have a broader array of resources at your disposal
As I just mentioned, your content agency can take all kinds of needs off your plate, including the need to hire designers and social media experts. Say you want an ebook or to create an entire blog or brand magazine. You can go through the process of hiring for all of these individual roles yourself, or you can turn to a provider that has already built these relationships.
It’s a stronger and more lasting relationship
Employees are loyal until they’re not. I hate to break it to you but your content person is going to leave you. They just are. Nobody wants to stay in the same position forever and your content person’s life goal is not to forever be the “Content Writer for SaaSCompany.io. They’ve got hopes and dreams. They want to be VP, or to start their own business, or to become an Instagram influencer, or whatever.
Job tenures are getting shorter. Research conducted by me and my colleague Peter Harris in 2016 found that people stay in jobs for an average of two years before moving on and that more than 80% of people have to change companies to move up the ladder, because most companies prefer to bring in outside hires rather than promote from within. If you don’t promote your content person to Content Director or VP of Content, they’re going to leave you, and you’re going to have to hire a new content person. And, if you do promote them, you’re still going to have to hire and train a new, more junior, content person.
A contractor or freelancer, on the other hand, is not going to leave you. We’ve already got our content marketing company and our dream is to keep doing lots of amazing, scalable work for a list of clients. It’s not in our best interest to leave you (unless you’re a terrible client). We have clients we’ve been with for years. We’ve seen marketing managers and sales directors come and go at companies where we remain the only constant.
Meanwhile, we see the same jobs posted at the same companies over and over again every few months. Reasons for this include lack of scalability, high attrition, and not finding the right hire. This affects the quality and output of your content and impact of your marketing, and it can be avoided by outsourcing your content work to a reliable agency with high levels of experience and expertise and a long list of subcontractors.
You’ll get better quality work
When you hire an experienced content agency, they are experts at producing content. They’re probably former print journalists who turned to brand content and learned by doing. They know how to research, conduct interviews, read data, tell a story, edit, proofread, report, and write all kinds of content. Let’s be honest, the in-house hire you can afford will almost certainly bring significantly less experience and fewer skills to the table.
An agency may also feel more pride of ownership in their work – because it’s their brand portfolio too – and be less likely to become demotivated out of boredom, as you won’t be their only client. They may also make fewer errors because work probably goes through an internal QA process before it even gets to you. A content company usually provides writing, editing, proofreading, and rewriting services at the very minimum. Depending on your needs, they’ll usually manage your blog and other resources for you and they will go the extra mile to ensure the relationship lasts and because they want you to recommend them to your friends.
Still not convinced?
Outsourcing your content marketing is a great solution for both business to business (B2B) and business to consumer (B2C) marketers across all industries and company sizes. It’s an excellent option for containing costs over the long term, it’s easier to scale, and is more sustainable.
It’s not for everyone. Some employers prefer to have writers working in house. There are a few understandable reasons for this: a perceived need to have more oversight and wanting the content person to feel like a true part of the organization, to understand the inner workings, attend meetings and trainings, town halls and team building exercises. Insourcing might allow an employer to exert more control over their output. But it depends on the provider and the relationship you build. It might also just give the illusion of more control. As many managers have learned since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, most jobs can be done remotely with no need to be onsite, opening up the door for all kinds of working relationships.
Also, outsourcing your content requires that your management team recognize their own limitations and that of their teams, something that is often easier said than done.
Of course, you’ll want to assess your options and decide what’s right for you. But, if you want your content to be as great as possible, outsourcing it to the experts can help with that.
At Yackler, we are experts in editorial, social media, PR, and digital strategy with backgrounds in journalism and creating content for Canada’s biggest magazines, newspapers, and websites.
About Yackler: Your brand content is what makes you stand out from the competition. We work with clients to create the content strategy that works for you, collaborating with stakeholders to align with goals and reach your target audience. Put our award-winning, record-breaking content and social strategies to work for you. Learn more at theyackler.com
*It’s a controversial topic when it comes to global economies and entire countries outsourcing production to developing nations with horrendous human rights records that rely on slavery and child labour. Herein it is a less controversial topic.