Content Marketing Services: Should I Hire an Agency or a Writer?
You probably already know that content is king when it comes to marketing, but do you know how to create quality content that really converts? Here’s a hint: When it comes to most of the B2B companies killing it in the content space, their secret isn’t a magical algorithm — it’s a content marketing pro who’s working behind the scenes to ensure every piece of content created does its job and does it well.
There are a few different types of content marketing services that you can use to generate effective content, whether you’re looking to optimize your digital marketing efforts, your print marketing efforts, or both. The big ones: content marketing agencies and individual freelance writers and designers.
Who you choose to work with depends on your needs, your budget, and your preferences, though there are some guidelines that can help you determine your best course of action.
Who should you hire: a content marketing agency or an individual writer?
When it comes to whether you’re best off hiring a content marketing agency or an individual freelance writer to handle your company’s content, know that there are pros and cons to both choices. Neither is an inherently better choice than the other. Here are some considerations:
Content Marketing Agencies
Integrated services that usually include both content creation and design
Pre-vetted writing team
Marketing experts who can help you optimize content and ad spending
Higher budgets for A/B testing, data analytics, and more
Typically a higher cost option
May require a minimum budgetary spend per month or quarter
Larger client roster that may mean less individual attention for your company
Cost efficiency — only pay for completed content and save on the bells and whistles
Greater flexibility with hours and deadlines
Highly specialized talents
One-on-one feedback loop directly with the person creating your content
More difficult to find and vet
No overhead supervision
May require an initial investment to find and hire a reputable writer
Of course, a good content creator is going to be a pro at what they do, whether they work for a designated content service or for themselves. The real challenge is in making sure that you hire a team or an individual who has a proven track record of creating strong, valuable content that sells, and who understands your brand, your audience, and what you’re trying to accomplish with your content.
Where to find expert content creators
Businesses have way more content needs thanks to the internet, but they also have significantly more avenues by which to find pros to handle the job for them.
Freelancer websites: Websites like Upwork and BloggingPro are great for finding freelance help if you’re interested in working with an individual writer. The writers who populate these sites do tend to be newer to the industry though, so while you can absolutely find some truly fabulous writers at great fees, they might not come with the backing that a more experienced writer would have.
Social media: Content marketing agencies and writers use social media to build awareness of their brand and seek out new clients, so meet them where they’re at by including social sites in your search. Utilize hashtags like #contentmarketing, #digitalmarketing, and #freelance to find writers who fit your criteria, then use the screening processes detailed below to narrow down your search.
Google: Never discount the power of a good ole’ web search for finding a quality content provider. If a company or individual has made it on to the first page of the search results, it’s safe to assume that they either have a strong track record or have really mastered their SEO skills (or, more likely, both).
Referrals: When in doubt, ask around. Talk to others in the B2B space to find out whether they use an outside content creator and whether they would recommend them. Like most things in business, word of mouth can get you far.
How to screen content professionals
It’s important to do some sort of screening any time you hire an outside professional to do work for your business. And when it comes to writers and content agencies, that often means doing a little bit of digging in to their previous work and online presence.
A good place to start is with their website. Pretty much any content agency or freelancer writer worth hiring is going to have a website where they house information on their services and show off their portfolio. Pay attention not just to their previous work and clients but to the care they’ve put in to crafting their page. If you see typos or other glaring errors on their site, that suggests they might not put as much care into their work as you want.
In addition to their personal website, take a look at their LinkedIn page. Scroll down to see if they have any recommendations or reviews from previous clients, or if they’ve been heavily endorsed for a certain skill. If you’re familiar with any of their other clients, you can reach out to them there and ask about their experience working with that particular writer or content service.
A final piece of the screening puzzle is an interview. It doesn’t have to be formal, but it should serve to give you an idea of who you’re hiring. You want to hire an individual or team who you feel you can work well with, and that often requires a phone call to determine their communication style and personality. That doesn’t mean you should only hire content creators who you think you can be friends with, but you should place a high priority on finding someone who you’ll be able to get along with during your process of working together.
Content marketing fees
Good content isn’t cheap, but it is worth it.
Content marketing agencies tend to run pricier than freelancers and bloggers — industry-wide, the standard is around $5,000 to $50,000 for a complete audit and rehaul of your current content strategy. If you’re interested more on individual projects, expect to spend anywhere from $150 to $2,000 for a quality piece of content.
Freelancers set their own rates, and you may pay either by project, by hour, or by the word. While rates will vary broadly among freelancers based on skills and experience, you’ll probably still spend a fair amount, but it will be less than if you hired an agency.
Last thoughts: what not to do when hiring a writer or agency
There’s always going to be a learning curve when you’re trying something new, but you can’t afford to waste money on content that isn’t going to do its job for your business. To ensure you hire the best agency or writer possible, avoid these common pitfalls:
Don’t gloss over the screening process. Someone might seem great on their website but fall flat in a phone interview, or vice versa. Screen an agency or writer as thoroughly as you can before hiring them on.
Don’t skip the contract. Contracts are necessary for protecting both your business and the business of the agency or person who you’re hiring. Clearly spell out all expectations and pricing details, and have both parties sign before assigning any work.
Don’t underpay. You get what you pay for. If an agency or writer is willing to work at extremely low rates, chances are you are not going to get top-quality content (or much loyalty) in return. Content has a high ROI, so pay for the quality and the results that you want.
If you find the right person or team, it doesn’t actually matter much whether they’re part of a dedicated content marketing service or are working solo. Hire someone you connect with and who understands your business — the rest will fall into place.