Hiring a writer? What to look for when outsourcing content creation

You’ve got the green light to start creating content. You’ve even got a budget. But as you look around your marketing department, you realize that you don’t have anyone to actually create anything. Outsourcing content creation makes sense, so you start looking on LinkedIn or asking peers for recommendations.

But not all content creators are equal. Some are generalists; others are specialists. Some can make a white paper witty; others are your go-to for sales copy. When you’re evaluating content creators, here’s what to look for to ensure it’s a positive experience for everyone involved.

  1. Expertise in the type of content you want. There’s the obvious difference between someone who creates video content and someone who writes. However, there are also different subsets of content writing: long form copy like case studies and white papers, shorter sales copy, pithy blog posts, and to-the-point infographics, to name a few. When you’re evaluating a creator, make sure he or she has the expertise in the content you want to create. It may make sense to hire several professionals in some cases.
  2. Some knowledge of the subject matter. It’s rare that you’re going to find a content creator that knows the specifics of your product or service. However, when you’re outsourcing content creation, your writer or videographer or designer doesn’t need to be the one who can set up the software and deploy it to users. He or she should have some knowledge of your industry, though, because it will be tedious and a waste of time to bring your creator up to speed on general concepts that are required to understand your company’s mission.
  3. The ability to provide work samples. At this point, you’re nodding and saying, okay, I’ve found a content creator on LinkedIn/through a directory/from my gym buddy who works in a similar capacity. Now, you’ll want to see if the content creator is a good fit. Before you hire someone, you should be able to get work samples of the type of content you need. It might not be exactly what you’re doing; for example, if you’re doing a series of case studies, you’ll want to see case studies that the writer has done in a loosely-related industry to evaluate his or her storytelling chops. But before you get started, you should be able to generally evaluate your provider.
  4. Market-rate pricing. Cost does not determine value. If you’re shopping around for the lowest price, you’re bound to be evaluating your content creator by the wrong criteria. Someone who is good at what he or she does is not going to charge you $50 for a white paper. If you’re evaluating against the above criteria, you can’t bargain shop.

Bonus: A journalism background. For videographers and writers, a journalism background is a huge bonus in your content creation efforts. These are the people that will know how to ask questions, including follow up questions that get the most interesting answers.

About the Author

christine-parizo-thumb.jpgChristine Parizo is an experienced B2B technology copywriter who got her start in B2B technology journalism back when buyers still thought mobile phones were just for calls and clouds were something to watch on lazy, breezy days. Since then, she’s infiltrated companies who want their smartphones and tablets to access corporate networks from far-flung locations, studied corporate culture, and written white papers, case studies, website copy, and data sheets. Christine digs deep into the technology alphabet soup for feature articles published on TechTarget’s sites. She’s also passionate about running, fitness, the new Star Trek canon, Italian language, and coffee. Christine is based in the Houston area and lives with her husband, two small children, and a spoiled house cat.

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