The Insider Guide to Hiring a Content Writing Agency
Do you feel overwhelmed by the prospect of building a content strategy that covers all bases? Unsure about the real ROI on your current content marketing efforts? Stretched thin by the constant tasks required to keep publishing content?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you’re not alone — and it’s probably time to hire a content writing agency.
Here’s the thing: outsourcing to a content writing agency might seem like an expensive and complicated undertaking, but it’s actually the most effective way to optimize the return on your marketing efforts while you focus on your core business.
This guide will cover everything you need to know about hiring a content writing agency, including:
- How to know when you need one
- The benefits of outsourcing
- Services to expect from a content writing agency
- What to look for in a quality agency
Let’s get started!
- Half of all companies and two-thirds of large companies outsource their content marketing in some capacity.
- Hiring a content writing agency optimizes your content strategy while allowing you to focus on your core business.
- Signs that you may need to outsource include lack of ROI on current content, feeling in over your head, or consistently missing deadlines.
- Outsourcing to a content marketing agency has several benefits including more flexibility, lower costs, and consistent KPI reporting.
How to know it’s time to hire a content writing agency
It’s tempting as a business owner to want to keep everything in-house. When it comes to content in particular, it’s easy to want complete control over your messaging, strategy, and production. But what if you could hire a content writing agency without sacrificing any of those things?
Deciding to outsource your content does not mean you’re letting it fall on your priority list or giving it less of your focus. The opposite is actually true. Outsourcing can be a total win-win scenario because your content strategy gets more time and attention while you refocus on the things you do best: serving your customers.
Research by the Content Marketing Institute found that today, half of all companies and three-quarters of large companies outsource content marketing in some capacity.
Fortunately, there are some surefire signs that tell you it’s time to seriously consider outsourcing:
You feel in over your head
When you don’t have the right knowledge, resources, and expertise to execute your content strategy successfully, it can quickly become overwhelming. Content writing agencies can fill those gaps for you and help you manage your strategy from development through to execution.
Your content isn’t seeing results (or you don’t know if it is)
Are you producing content regularly but aren’t seeing the results you want? Maybe you aren’t even sure if your content is yielding results at all.
Either way, it’s likely that you are missing some key components to your content strategy, like keyword research or SEO content. Content writing agencies know all of the building blocks needed to make content perform.
Your internal team is stretched too thin
Employees that have too much on their plates can quickly become demoralized and discontent in their roles. Don’t let that happen to your team!
If your team is struggling to keep up with the demands of your content strategy — especially if they don’t have the right content experience — it’s definitely time to think about outsourcing.
You’re missing deadlines (or you don’t even have them)
A significant factor in whether or not your content strategy will be successful is how consistently you publish content. Hubspot research has found that brands see the best results when they publish 11-16 blogs per month. On average, companies that blog more than 16 times per month see 3.5 times the traffic than those who blog 4 times or less.
That’s a lot of writing. If you can’t keep up with your deadlines and publish content regularly, you’re going to keep fighting an uphill battle with your content. Content writing agencies have the resources to deliver content frequently and at scale as needed.
You lack in-house expertise
If your core business competency isn’t marketing, it makes sense that you would not have the level of expertise required for a high-performing content strategy.
That means that unless you have an in-house content marketing team, you are likely missing some important knowledge that could optimize your content’s performance. Content writing agencies can provide it for you.
Benefits of outsourcing
Now that you know how to tell when it’s time to outsource, let’s look at some of the direct benefits you can expect from hiring a content writing agency.
More time for your core business
I’ve mentioned this one already, but I’ll emphasize it here again because it’s one of the primary benefits of outsourcing content. There’s no getting around it — researching, writing, and publishing content is time consuming. When you do it in-house, it can take away from the time you’re able to spend on your core business activities.
You don’t have to sacrifice one for the other. When you outsource your content, you leave the writing up to the marketing experts and stay focused on what matters most to your business.
Higher publishing frequency and consistency
Content writing agencies dedicate all of their resources to content creation for their clients. This means they have more writers, SEO researchers, and other support staff to produce more content on a consistent basis.
Consistency is one of the most important Google ranking factors, so letting it fall to the wayside is a missed opportunity. Outsourcing can eliminate that risk.
That’s right — outsourcing often saves you money in the long run. Full-time content teams are expensive. They require salaries, benefits, management, and often additional office space.
When you outsource, you save on all of those costs, paying only for the services that will directly benefit your business and earn you more revenue.
Clear, consistent reporting on performance metrics
Measuring performance metrics helps you to know if your strategy is delivering results. You can expect a content writing agency to report on KPIs frequently and consistently so you can see the exact ROI on the services they are providing.
Adherence to deadlines
Meeting your deadlines is part of your content writing agency’s job. While it’s easy to reconfigure priorities internally when other projects pop up, your agency will always have your content schedule at the top of their list.
More flexibility with strategy and scale
Content writing agencies usually have more content resources than a company’s internal team. One major benefit from this is the ability for you as the client to test out a wide range of strategies and content types (like blogs, videos, infographics, ebooks and more). You can also scale up or down on your content creation as business demands without having to worry about adjusting full-time staff.
What can a content writing agency deliver for your brand?
So you’re ready to hire a content writing agency. But how do you know which one is right for you?
The truth is, there are many great agencies out there. It comes down to finding the one that feels right for you and your brand. The only way to find this out is by doing your research and talking with multiple agencies before deciding which one you’ll hire.
There are, however, some specific traits, services, and competencies you want to be sure your new agency possesses. Here are things you can expect a good content writing agency to deliver:
Today, 93% of all online experiences begin with a search engine. Whether people are looking for brands, asking a question, or just browsing, it’s likely they’re starting with Google.
If your content isn’t ranking on SERPs, you are likely invisible to your target audience. One of the most important things to look for in a content writing agency is SEO expertise. Whether they’re actually handling your SEO strategy or just creating content, you want to feel confident that everything you publish is fully optimized.
The best content writing agencies will be able to demonstrate with no problem how they incorporate SEO strategies into your content development and creation. Steps like content auditing, keyword research, and technical SEO analysis will be built in to their services.
All of the content produced by your content writing agency should be optimized. Good agencies will be ready to show you examples of how they do this and demonstrate a track record of success with their own brand’s content and/or case studies from other clients. This is very important for B2B companies — your agency should be able to create content that resonates with your audience, is optimized for crawling, indexing and ranking by search engines, as well as easily shareable on social media.
Consistent, frequent delivery
Content agencies should have delivery and publishing built in to their processes so that you can feel confident in your content schedule. You can expect agencies to deliver content every single week for the best results.
Paid promotion management
Paid promotion is a common service included with other content services. It can often give your content an immediate boost and is cost-effective when done right.
If you plan to make paid promotion part of your digital marketing strategy, you should have no problem finding a content writing agency who can handle it for you alongside content creation.
The best content writing agencies will be clear with you about when and how they report on performance metrics. If they don’t mention it or can’t answer your question specifically when you ask about it, it’s a sure sign that you might want to go with another option.
KPI reporting keeps everyone accountable, helps keep strategies on track, and demonstrates value for the agency delivering services.
What to look for in a content writing agency
It’s likely that you’ll find multiple content writing agencies who possess all of these important business competencies. But there are other, less tangible factors you should also consider when making your final decision. They may not be quite as easy to measure, but they’re important to your ability to work together with your agency over time.
The nature of content marketing also requires your agency to be your partner in many respects. Creating content for any business means understanding that company’s mission, target audience, brand voice, and overall goals.
Look for an agency who asks lots of questions about your brand and otherwise demonstrates that they care to work together, not just for you.
Cultural fit is really important to your ability to work with an agency long-term. Ask yourself: does it feel natural when you’re communicating with your agency? Do you share the same general values around best business practices? Do your processes align well? These can all make a big impact on the success of your working relationship is over time.
Agencies can’t be everything to everyone. While many agencies are generalist today in that they offer a variety of services, the best agencies will be fully transparent with you about their expertise, services, and abilities — and the limits to all three. Be clear about your expectations from the start and look for an agency that will be honest rather than overpromising on every expectation.
This one might be hard to assess in the beginning, but there are ways to do it. Does the team from your prospective agency show up to meetings as planned? Return your calls? Email back in a timely manner? These are all signs of an agency that will follow through in the long run.
My advice here is to not let any agency have too many chances when it comes to following through on promised services. If they show from the start that they can’t deliver, move on to an agency that will.
Outsource to jumpstart your content strategy today
If you’re a business owner, you probably don’t have a lot of time to write blog posts and manage your blogging strategy. But what you can’t do in-house, you can do with outsourcing.
In fact, by partnering with professional content creators and strategists, you can build an even more impactful blog without having to go through the time-consuming and expensive trial and error that often comes with nailing business blogging. Over 70 percent of brands outsource their content creation to specialized content agencies!
And, you’ll save money. When you outsource, you can pay for the services you need and then scale up or down accordingly. You’re more agile and always ready to pivot.