Are you struggling to generate enough content for your business or blog? No time or interest to pursue this important strategy? Looking for options to outsource writing jobs to others? In this article we’ll talk about the ever-growing set of options available to business and blog owners to up their content game.
What are options to outsource writing projects?
In short, there are LOTS of options to outsource written content. Let’s outline a few here:
AI Content Generation
AI content writers have been met with skepticism, and they are indeed imperfect. However, with the right expectations and touch, they could be very additive to an outsourced writing strategy. We discuss more of these details during our recent Jasper ai demo.
Business owners and bloggers using these services would be well served to build a skill in providing the right prompts, so the AI systems can produce better first drafts. Just like a new employee or some of these other services below, setting the program up for success with the right inputs will make the initial output better.
Contract Writing Services
Independence contractors have been out there forever. But accessing them has never been easier as various marketplaces have taken off in recent years.
Upwork is a massive marketplace connecting those needing contract services with those providing. In the context of writing, they offer access to contractors focused on content, proofreading, editing, copywriting, ghostwriting, and other such services.
Fiverr offers the same concept as Upwork, with a large selection of writers. Articles and blog posts are one of the featured writing categories. But same as above, you can find editors, proofreaders, and others writing-adjacent services to complement the actual generation component.
It’s important to note that these sites are not actually providing the service. They are merely operating as a marketplace where interested parties come to find each other. It’s on you as the user of the service to manage the engagement correctly. This includes the right approach to vetting and hiring. Doing this correctly maximizes your chance of success using that contractor(s).
A nice part about these services is that, as long as you conduct your business on the platform, you can have a greater degree of confidence the actual transaction will go well. While the work product quality itself is still subject to risk of who you select, you will be conducting the exchanges of services through the site. So features like escrow (payment held by a trusted third party and not released until milestones are confirmed reached by you) increase confidence in doing business with someone you’ve never met.
These sites have also continued to invest in their ability to engage enterprise-level clients. So as hiring continues to be an issue, these could be good solutions for companies looking to access contract workers to fill gaps.
Virtual Assistants (VAs)
These may be best for those looking for research or idea generation assistance. But some may be able to serve as content writers as well.
VAs provide a wide array of services. They are generally leveraged for organization and responsibilities that lend themselves well to a “If A then B” type of decision-making framework.
As your writing needs increase, one way in which to address this is outsourcing OTHER responsibilities that may be taking up your time. Paying invoices, responding to inbound requests, scheduling social media or editorial content, etc. Or, VAs could keep other components of your outsourced writing strategy moving (e.g. holding independence contractors accountable to the schedule they agreed to without you having to worry about this yourself).
Finding a VA can be done in any number of ways. Upwork and Fiverr are two sites we’ve already touched on which also includes a marketplace for VAs. Then sites like Zirtual specialize in this to a greater extent.
There are many quality agencies (and many not-so-quality agencies) offering A-to-Z services. These are going to be the most expensive option, but (theoretically) offer the biggest handoff of a responsibilities.
This category is going to feature a wide array of options, and you should be looking for one specializing in your niche. For instance, an agency typically working with an ecommerce site will probably not be best fit for a local service company looking to build it’s online presence.
Once example of a full-service agency is a “done-for-you” blog-building service like Human Proof Designs. This is an example of an agency focusing on a business owner looking to grow but needing a firm to handle essentially all aspects of that strategy.
How do I decide which outsourced option is best?
When evaluating the option of outsourcing your writing needs, you should start with the end in mind. What is the goal of any content you are generating? Is it short-form copy or long-form articles and blogs? Are you outsourcing the idea generation, research, writing itself, or all of the above? Each of those considerations will lead you down a different path.
Let’s look at a few examples:
- Needing help with researching and finding quality sources: This need may be best served by a VA. It could prove fairly broad and incorporates a skillset beyond just writing up the content itself. A good VA could learn your preferences and follow a good set of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to meaningfully offset research time. Additionally, this type of work is probably not cost effectively handled by a full service agency (nor would they likely be willing to perform such a siloed function)
- Compelling copy to drive traffic: This need entails a different skillset than long-form writing. Depending on your own skill level, an AI copywriting platform could serve this well just by generating ideas you wouldn’t have other thought of, which you could then refine. In our experience, as of 2022 anyway, these platforms serve short-form copy needs better than long-form. And they highly likely will just get better and better. Additionally, a good copywriter from Upwork or Fiverr could take this completely off your plate, for a higher cost (which could be prove a great tradeoff depending on the extent of your needs and demands on your time overall).
- Long-form content generation: If you have the ideas and key points framed out and need someone to spend the time writing it up, you’re likely looking at independent contractors or agency services. While AI copywriting can help, you will still need to spend time creating a truly great piece of content (again, as of 2022). And VAs are likely better utilized for other needs than pure writing, where a specialist will make a difference in the end-quality of what you receive.
- No time at all for any of this: If you’re just trying to outsource it all… then look at an agency. Or a combination of a GREAT VA (get this first – and build the rapport you need) with the right independence contractors. You should be involved in the hiring/firing of the contractors, not your VA, but they can offload the day-to-day management.
How do I manage my outsourced writing projects?
This too, will depend on your needs and the option you ultimately select.
Managing AI copywriting tools
If you’re using AI Content tools, you aren’t managing others. You will be managing yourself or your existing team, leveraging this tool to compress time to publish. You will need to incorporate this into your normal process for generating and maintaining content.
Managing Independence Contractors
If you’re using contract writers, this will then depend on the platform you’re using. Manage them through the platform for protection purposes. This will help in case there are any disputes, and also provides general payment security as well. Upwork provides a helpful guide to “Improve the Chances of Success With Your Freelancers”. If you’re going this route, we’d recommend reviewing their helpful tips.
Virtual assistants will depend to some extent on the manner in which you’re hiring them.
But regardless, an important step when working with a virtual assistant is using SOPs. Setting expectations clearly, in minute detail, is a critical step. This allows your VA the best chance to execute what you want. Expecting them to just “know” is not realistic. The more they get reps using your SOPs, the more they will be able to learn your style over time.
With full-service agencies, setting expectations up front on how the relationship will work gives you a better chance of it working out. Agencies all have different personalities, cultures, etc. Don’t assume they will pick up on your style. You will likely need to give here and adjust to theirs as well. Be clear with the details of the engagement, timing expectations, who you will be interacting with and how they will be doing the work. Confirm details on when and how payment is made, what could produce any surprises in billings, what recourse exists if work product is not up to your standards, and how the relationship can end if it needs to.
No “1 Option” to Outsource Writing
Keep in mind that no one option is necessarily all encompassing. Many business owners outsource writing to a contract writer and use a VA to keep things on track and keep them organized. Others may use a contract writer to outsource their writing but also subscribe to an AI copywriting platform to generation ideas, outlines, and other work product to then give to the writers.
When should I keep my writing in-house?
It’s common to avoid the idea to outsource writing when you’re just starting out and/or have a tight budget. If you don’t have the budget, you’ll want to trade time for money in the beginning until you get going.
That said, there is almost always a point in everyone’s journey where outsourcing allows for better leverage. But in the beginning, learning by doing can pay off in many ways, beyond the immediate cost savings.
When you do ultimately outsource, if you’ve struggled through yourself you’ll be better equipped to speak the language your writers are, and have more realistic expectations of them too. This will also allow you to truly develop your own style, which you can then ensure stays intact when outsourcing writing via SOPs, as discussed earlier.
We have covered a lot in this article on how to outsource writing jobs. But in the end, the key points are:
- Define your end game, and your needs to achieve that.
- Understand exactly what you need from an outsourced provider
- Evaluate the best options to meet those needs
- Find and interview multiple providers, using the same process to ensure a fair comparison
- Select your provider(s), set expectations clearly, hold them accountable
- Learn, iterate approach, adapt, and keep growing your business with the help of your new resources!
Thoughts? Questions? We’d love to hear from you. Please use our contact page to get in touch.