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Is it better to outsource or build in-house capabilities for content creation?

Posted by Sheera Eby on October 9, 2013

Content marketing seems to be a hot topic of discussion in marketing today. Forbes recently identified content marketing as one of the top online marketing trends for 2014.



Many marketers are trying to determine the best resource approach for their content marketing strategies. One of the key issues marketers are grappling with is whether it’s better to outsource or try to build an in-house capability for content creation.


It turns out that content marketing is time consuming and requires a significant commitment. HubSpot reports that companies that blog 20 times per month get 5 times more traffic than those that blog less than 4 times per month. The first time I read this stat and did the math, it became clear that is nearly a blog article for every business day in a month. That requires real commitment.


So what happens if you don’t blog as often HubSpot and other inbound marketing experts recommend? Well, like most things in life, you get out what you put into it. We recently ran a test to determine if HubSpot’s hypothesis would hold true. After all, wouldn’t it be nice if these stats were general rules of thumb but didn’t actually apply to your industry or your business? The reality is that HubSpot ran its analysis across thousands of companies, and the stat holds true. If you post fewer blog articles, your traffic will drop.


This brings us to the brutal reality that content creation requires commitment. Whether you decide to outsource content marketing or make a go of utilizing in-house resources, you need dedicated resources to not only launch, but sustain a successful content marketing program.

This can become difficult in organizations where the same thought leaders who are serving as content creators also have either day-to-day responsibilities that pull them in other directions or other priorities pulling their thought leadership attention.


It is very likely that most organizations will benefit from some combination of in-house and outsourcing of content creation. Most agencies that offer content creation services will be more than happy to ghost-write articles on behalf of thought leaders. These articles then become intellectual property of the client that paid for this work. Here are 3 criteria to help guide you in choosing the optimal resource approach for content creation and determining whether your organization would benefit from outsourcing some or all of your content creation services.


1. Commitment of available resources
Unfortunately, the numbers tell the story in that content marketing requires a strong commitment. You can consider trying an approach with fewer than the recommended posts, but the reality is that your program may not be optimized and, consequently, it will suffer. Google rewards frequency. Consistently posting articles reinforces that there is something current going on with your website and that Google should pay attention to that site.

Blog article creation can take anywhere from 3 hours to 3 days, depending on a number of factors, including personal writing style, research requirements, technical expertise and proficiency. Plus, there is proofing, editing, posting and time involved to promote the article. The reality is that most people don’t have access to 15 to 25 hours of uninterrupted quiet time throughout the week. Unless resources allow for building an entire content creation services team in-house, you’ll ultimately need to lean on some external resources.


2. Depth of internal thought leadership resources
Most organizations have thought leaders and experts. The question is whether the thought leadership has availability and interest in content creation. Some thought leaders are better suited for speaking engagements. Some are trained at journal writing or authoring other types of content, versus marketing blog writing. Some organizations prefer to have their thought leaders available for one-on-one customer and business development meetings. Some thought leaders are running organizations that don’t allow time for them to sit privately and write.

Availability and accessibility of thought leaders is essential in evaluating how much dependency can be given to in-house content creation. Most agencies that offer content creation services have the ability to construct articles based on an individual thought leader’s style and voice. This can help ensure that the thought leaders have the proper market visibility but aren’t necessarily doing all of the work.


3. Resources for content marketing planning and execution
An effective content marketing plan is based on analytics, not just a brainstorming exercise.
It’s valuable to think through all resources that will need to be in place prior to embarking on a content marketing strategy. Like many other services that are outsourced to agencies, content marketing requires a vast array of diverse skills that might ultimately be difficult to staff internally. These skills include:

  • Analytical resource for keyword analytics, search analytics, as well as ongoing measurement and continuous improvement
  • Operational support for project management, posting articles, etc.
  • Programming and development resources to get the blog initially in place
  • Social media support to promote the blog articles, respond to comments and other online community involvement
  • Additional content support for generating offers, creation of landing pages, ebooks, checklists and other content, etc.


Choosing the right resources to support your content marketing strategy is essential to success or failure. Is an in-house or outsourcing strategy right for you? The question comes down to the variety of skill sets required and the availability and commitment level of the resources. I’ve presented several criteria that probably lean toward outsourcing content creation services.


Topics: Inbound Marketing

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