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Outsourcing Content

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Digital Marketing - Study Notes:

Pros and cons

When it comes to SEO content, it’s really common to outsource that content - maybe to a freelancer, or a part-timer, or even an agency. Outsourcing basically means that someone who is not a full-time or salaried, regular employee with your business is going to be the one creating your content. There are pros and cons to outsourcing your content and bringing on freelancers:


  • Fewer employee costs to produce content: You don’t have to pay for insurance, taxes, benefits, office space, internet, and other costs.
  • More flexibility: In case demand or needs change, you can decrease your work for writers to free up budget. The same goes for needing more work – you can easily give existing freelancers more work or bring on more freelancers.
  • More variety in content: Since it’s coming from a larger pool of writers with different voices, backgrounds, and talents, you can get a wider spectrum of content.


  • More management and oversight needed: Usually, you will need a project manager or someone in charge of the project to make sure that best practices are being followed.
  • Difficult to enforce hard deadlines: If someone is not in the office and is working remotely or even in another country, it may be hard to get hold of them if they miss a deadline. Time differences can have an impact as well. Again, you will likely need a team member who is in charge of project-managing the freelancers to make sure that they are staying on task, that they know what’s expected of them, and that milestones and deadlines are being met.

Where to find freelancers

If you are going to outsource your content, you can look for freelancers in a variety of places:

  • Job boards: Popular job boards include FlexJobs, com, and ProBlogger. These offer the most exposure. Some are paid, some are free for companies. Always use reputable job boards that have a good reputation to ensure your job is shown to the right people.
  • Referrals: Referrals are by far the best way to find someone. Ask your colleagues, ask your co-workers, put it out on social media that you’re looking for recommendations for someone to write your content. Be specific about what you’re looking for, what they’re experience needs to be, and hopefully you will get a trusted referral from someone in your network whose opinion you trust.
  • Website and social media: Post a job description on your website, and share it on social media and on your company profiles. Say, “We’re hiring an SEO content freelancer” or whatever, provide a brief overview of the role, and a link to the job description on your website. Be sure to check freelancers’ existing online presence on social media.

Crafting job descriptions

When crafting job descriptions, keep the following in mind:

  • Ask applicants to use a specific subject line: When people are sending you their résumés, ask them to use a specific subject line with their applications. This shows whether or not they are paying attention to detail. This can also demonstrate whether they are reading the entire job description, and know what is expected of them.
  • Ask for topic ideas for your website, blog, or YouTube channel: This can help you find out the depth of applicants’ industry knowledge. This can also show how well they think on their own. Independence and proactivity are really important when it comes to being a good freelancer. You will want people who can react in a timely manner to trending topics or crises.
  • Be as specific as possible and be upfront about expectations: Being specific and upfront just means being clear and honest, so you are all on the same page. Outline expectations in project management software or in emails, and give extensive feedback upfront to ensure that freelancers know your expectations and what you are looking for. Over time, it gets easier. Consider saying, “People who succeed in this position do X, Y, Z”. Be upfront about payment schedules and rates, so people know before they even apply what’s going to be expected of them; and they know what they need to have in terms of experience and skill sets to succeed with your company.

The hiring process

When it comes to hiring, you should follow this process:

  • Hire for culture fit: Hire for culture fit, even if the applicant doesn’t have all the experience you were looking for. If you know that they fit personality-wise with the rest of your team, then you can probably train them to do a lot of the things that you’re already doing, especially when it comes to content. So if the person is a pretty good writer and they get along really well with everyone, you could probably take a chance on that person.
  • Interview over video chat or in person: If you can’t meet in person, arrange to have a video interview with the applicant. You could use Skype, or Google Hangouts, or Zoom - whatever tool you usually use. Video gives a better overall view of the person and their personality.
  • Have a trial period: Do a one-month or one-assignment trial first, to make sure the person is a good fit. Usually, after a month, you’ll be able to tell whether you want to continue working with them or not.
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Kelsey Jones

Digital Marketing Consultant and Writer

  • 9 years’ experience in SEO and writing for the web
  • 17 years’ experience in HTML
  • Experience writing content for small and large brands
  • US Search Awards Judge 2014, 2015, 2016
  • The Drum US Search Awards Judge 2017
  • Former Executive Editor, Search Engine Journal, 2014-2017

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