Content marketing can be a very effective strategy for reaching a larger audience, but it takes dedication. You can’t expect to put out a couple of blog posts every few weeks and expect the sales to start rolling in. You need consistent, high-value content, delivered on a regular basis to your audience in order to see results.
It can be difficult to justify the costs of implementing a content marketing plans when it can take a while to see results, but it’s part of the long game your business is playing: you have to be in or out. Only half committing to content marketing just wastes money and causes frustration for everyone involved. The good news? When properly executed, content marketing costs 62% less than traditional marketing methods, all while generating more leads! That kind of return on investment (ROI) is hard to pass up.
If you think it’s time to get going on content marketing, you have a few decisions to make. One of the biggest decisions is whether or not to build a content marketing team in house or to outsource the work to a creative agency or freelancer. Like any business decision, there are pros and cons to each approach, and the best decision will vary from business to business. Let’s take a look at the most important roles on a content team, and your different options for filling them.
Content Team Roles
What positions will you need to fill in order to have a well-rounded content team? You don’t have to hire an army to generate inbound leads, but it’s also not realistic to expect one person to have adequate time and diverse enough skills to fill all the necessary roles on a successful content team. Ideally, you’d hire:
- A writer/editor (preferably one of each)
- A social media expert
- A designer
- An outreach expert
- A strategist/analyst
By filling these roles, you’ll be able to accomplish a lot with content marketing—but it might not make sense to bring that talent in house if you’re still a small and growing company.
The biggest consideration for most businesses in getting started with content marketing is cost. Which option is the least expensive, yet yields good ROI? Most large companies do eventually transition to in-house creative teams (although even these teams are sometimes augmented with outsourced help) because it can be more cost effective, depending on the circumstances. However, building a team can also be very expensive, especially for smaller companies since you have to offer a competitive salary and pay for benefits and equipment.
Agencies can cost your business a lot, but the benefit of this option is that they take care of everything from strategy to deliverables. They will usually have a large staff or a network of freelancers they use to ensure quality deliverables. You also don’t have to worry about benefits or equipment costs when hiring an agency. However, they won’t have the inside knowledge of your brand and goals, which can sometimes lead to misunderstandings.
Freelancers (sole proprietors) usually command higher fees per project than in-house marketers, but the fees overall are often cheaper than hiring someone full time. There are no benefits or equipment to pay for, and because freelancers don’t usually have much overhead, they sometimes offer lower rates than agencies. However, most companies need more than one person producing content which introduces new complications, including managing relationships between the contact and multiple freelancers.
Your Business’s Growth Stage
Depending on your business’s stage of development, it might not make sense to hire an entire team. If you’re still in the startup phase (or just getting out of it), it might make sense to hold off. Think about your revenue and other funding—can you really afford to bring on a whole team of people for content marketing? While you can get some great ROI from an in-house team, your business may not be quite ready yet.
Do You Have a Niche?
If you’re in a very specialized industry, it’s going to be more difficult to find writers who can produce quality content. It may be better to hire someone in-house so you can give them the knowledge you have to create value for your customers. Your brand voice is also a consideration. It’s very important that all the content your company produces has a consistent brand voice. This helps build trust and confidence among your audience. It’s also important to ensure that your content is optimized for the preferred devices of your target audience. For example, a recent university study found that millennials spend 90% of their smartphone time using apps, as opposed to merely browsing the web.
The structure of your business will definitely have an impact on which option makes the most sense. If you don’t have an office space or have a limited amount of time, a turnkey solution like an agency, or a team of remote freelancers might make the most sense. If you want more control over the creative process, however, working with freelancers might be a better bet.
How you manage the work will be very different depending on which option you choose. An in-house team will be under your supervision, and be an integrated part of your culture. Of course, management will fall to you, and it may be more work than hiring an outside agency or freelancer. While you’ll give feedback on the work and agree on certain expectations, you’re paying them to manage themselves—and manage the work according to project parameters. You’re not their boss, you’re their client—a very different relationship. You’ll also likely be working with an agency or freelancer on a remote basis, which also affects the relationship dynamics.
The Final Decision
The good news about all of this is you can explore some different options. Talk to some agencies and freelancers. Run the numbers on what an in-house team would cost. Think about the pros and cons.
Remember, if you’re still small, you don’t have to go straight into hiring a content team in house. You can always turn to an agency or freelancer initially, then transition to in-house as your company grows. However, whatever choice you make, commit to it for a while. You won’t see results immediately, and making changes all the time won’t help your marketing maintain consistency and creative methods that inspire customer loyalty.