Great content doesn’t magically appear. It’s not like you can just toss some seeds, water them, and wait on awesome digital marketing to materialize. No, great content requires writers, and not just people who can write, but professionals who know what they’re doing when it comes to content marketing, SEO, keywords, and campaign development.
The good news is, this can all be taught. The bad news is, that process can take longer than most startups and small businesses have to spare. There are other things to be done, and every staff member has responsibilities that might prevent them from learning a new skill, even on an accelerated timeline.
So then, you can outsource web writing to freelancers (or a content marketing firm) who will do a better job with quicker turn-around than in-house staff; or, the business can take the time necessary to teach in-house staff how to create content and write for the web. With the first option, the writer will have less connection to the company and there’s a chance the work will reflect that, though with the second, marketing campaigns in development must either slow down or stop completely while staff (who must be pulled away from their regular responsibilities) get up to speed.
Should startups and small businesses outsource web writing? As far as we can tell, they are three options here, each with its own benefits and drawbacks:
1. Outsource Web Writing
For startups and small businesses with tiny staffs already spread thin, an outsourced approach could be a winner. When you outsource web writing, you leave it to a professional to give you high-quality materials without disrupting your internal company process. That said, freelancers and content marketing agencies are not all created equal, and it’s important to vet your choices before giving them such an important task. Also, you absolutely must maintain creative control before the content goes into circulation. Lastly, there’s the expense to consider, and whether or not your new marketing initiatives will validate the money spent.
2. Handle Web Writing Yourself
If you’ve got a slightly larger staff, or dependable people who are good at taking care of many responsibilities at once, it might make more sense to handle things internally. You already pay your staff, which limits the extra expense (you could also use interns), and you’ll have no trouble overseeing the work as it develops. The problem here is that staff members might need a little while before they get familiar with contemporary content marketing best practices, and they may never get to a level where they produce the quality of content a true professional would.
3. A Combination Approach
There are very few absolutes, both in life and in business, and so a combined approach is probably the right call for the vast majority of startups and small businesses. With this option, larger jobs like campaign planning, ebooks and white papers, blog writing, and any graphics or web development would be handled by a freelancer or content marketing firm, while other jobs like social media promotion, customer communication, and website content/testimonials would be handled in-house. The more complicated, skill-specific work could be left to the people who already have those skills, while the more mundane or customer-focused aspects could be taken care of internally by staff members with a facility for writing and/or interest in learning new skills.
If your team isn’t built to handle multitasking and job-hopping, forcing them to do all of your web writing and digital content creation is a losing proposition. It’s not only unfair to overburden a staff member whose skills lie elsewhere: it’s not smart. But even when you bring on freelancers or an outside agency, you still need to oversee the work and manage your outsourced writers, up to and including guiding messaging and retaining final editorial say. And remember, while it’s important to make sure your outsourced writers don’t go overboard or mess anything up, it’s just as critical to let professionals do the writing you pay them to do, to the quality you have every right to expect from them.