In the 2014 Social Media Marketing Industry Report, original written content was ranked the overall most important form of content. Needless to say, a good b2b content writer has become a pretty hot commodity. Companies have to make the decision whether to have an in-house writer or to outsource the task to freelance writers.
Outsourcing content writing to a silver tongued freelancer can be attractive to b2b companies. A freelancer can give some much needed flare and personality to a boring industry that a long time employee might not have. If a company doesn’t have the time or money to hire on an in-house content writer, outsourcing might be the answer, but there are some outsourcing pitfalls to watch out for, and some in-house benefits that you should be aware of.
While hiring freelance writers can take the pressure of coming up with a weekly blog post off your shoulders, good in-house writers have several added benefits.
1) Association: when an in-house writer’s post succeeds, that success is more associated with your business than when a freelance writer’s post succeeds.
- It is best practice to feature a little author bio at the end of each post, especially if you have multiple authors contributing. If you hire a freelance writer and they write a killer post, it will get traffic to your site, but once people get to the end of the post and see that Bill the freelance writer is the mastermind behind it all, chances are that some readers won’t automatically connect the bit of genius they just read with your company like they would if the post was written by an employee.
2) Familiarity: in-house writers are going to automatically be somewhat in touch with your industry, your company, and your voice.
- While a good content writer can write about anything, you might be able to get more bang for your buck by just having an experienced employee at your company write a post about their area of expertise. While they may need to be edited for grammar and style, they may have a better sense of how to represent your company well to your audience.
3) Relationship: chances are you will have a closer relationship to an in-house writer and work in the same location as them, and thus have better chances of having frequent, painless, and clear communication.
- A freelance writer will probably not be available for frequent face-to-face meetings and feedback. While technology has made the world smaller, it can never replace face-to-face conversations. According to psychologist Albert Mehrabian, 93% of communication is nonverbal. Having an in-house writer can save you from headaches and mishaps.
In some cases, outsourcing can be a good decision, or the only decision. As I said above, a high quality outside content writer can add some flare and style to a boring industry or subject matter. For those times when you need to outsource your content writing, here are some tools to take the guesswork out of the process.
There are scads of outsourcing platforms out there that help employers find, hire, communicate, and pay freelancers. I’ll introduce to you some of the most popular: Elance, Odesk, Freelancer, Guru, and Fiverr. The two leading platforms for finding reliable, qualified freelancers are Elance and Odesk. The two companies merged in 2013, but have both kept their individual websites.
Create a profile, post a job, and search over 2.3 million freelancers of all types. Last time I checked, Elance features around 31,000 freelance writers. If you’re looking for a freelance writer (or any other kind of freelancer) this is a great place to start. Elance also enables you to create shared online workrooms, receive daily activity reports, and pay freelancers through Elance’s website.
Elance is free for employers to use, and charges freelancers an 8.75% billing rate.
**Even though Elance charges less, it is generally occupied by higher profile freelancers and is therefore better for larger companies.
**Elance gets flack for not being very easy to use.
Learn more about Elance here.
With about 4.5 million freelancers, Odesk shares many of the same features as Elance. It is not quite as popular as Elance, but it is faster growing. Odesk has the highest estimated cumulative freelancer earnings.
Odesk is free for employers to use. Odesk charges the freelancer a 10% billing rate.
Learn more about Odesk here.
Freelancer has the highest number of freelancers, estimates range from 7 million to 15 million. Freelancer also has the highest all time number of job postings. Like Elance, Freelancer’s payment system only releases funds to the freelancer once the employer is completely satisfied with the services provided.
Freelancer charges employers a 3% or $3 billing rate (whichever is greater) on all account types accept for Standard and Premium. Freelancer charges freelancers a 10% or $5 billing rate.
**Freelancer’s staggering size is a double edged sword. At times it can put quantity over quality with its cumbersome navigation, and mediocre user experience.
Learn more about Freelancer here.
Guru features mostly US based freelancers. Featuring 400,000 freelancers, Guru weighs in on the smaller side of freelance platforms. Clients pay freelancers when a job is completed.
Guru charges employers a 2.45% processing fee when paying with Paypal or credit card. Guru charges freelancers 4.95% – 8.95% of their earnings (depending on account type).
**Guru has a much smaller pool of freelancers to choose from than the other platforms.
Learn more about Guru here.
With 600,000 freelancers, Fiver is an outsourcing platform that got famous for offering services for $5. Now 50% of services are sold for more than that. While this may not be a long term solution to your need for a reliable content writer, it might be a quick fix, or come in handy in a disaster situation.
Fiverr is free for employers to use. Fiverr takes 20% of the freelancers’ pay.
**You get what you pay for. Many of the freelancers on Fiverr are still charging $5. If you pay $5 for a piece of writing, chances are it isn’t going to be Shakespeare.
Learn more about Fiverr here.
Other Outsourcing Platforms:
While outsourcing platforms offer a range of benefits, there are other tools that companies can use to find, connect, and work with talented freelance writers.
Linkedin is a great place to search for potential outsourced employees. Search for writers, connect with them, and develop a healthy business relationship with them. It is also the most popular social platform for b2b marketers.
Learn how to search for people on Linkedin here.
Google’s empire offers a number of collaboration tools for outsourcing work. Schedule meetings with the Google calendar, use Google docs to share notes, and Google drive to share files.
Take notes including audio and video, create reminders, to-do lists, and access them on any device.
Make to-do lists and schedule reminders in minutes.
An easy way to schedule meetings.
PGI offers a range of collaboration services from video conferencing, to file sharing and collaboration tools, to a calendar app to sink schedules and tasks.
There can be benefits to both outsourced and in-house b2b content writing. Before you make a decision you should consider what makes the most sense for your industry and your company.