What's your take on hiring a content agency vs freelancers? So far I've found that it's been more difficult to manage more writers vs hiring an agency with detailed briefs. The thing is though, the freelancers end up doing a way better job than the agency since we build expectations together over time. But the freelancers can't match the speed of the content agency which is a plus.
When does it make sense for you to use a content agency over freelancers or vice versa?
9 👍🏽919 💬🗨
Agency's create good content when you micromanage and watch every detail… I find when you place a big order, especially when they have 1000+ writers the quality is quite often poor. Freelancers are more expensive but of a far higher quality.
It's been a while since I've hired writers from another agency… typically when I have in the past, I get the same writer every time unless we were branching out into topics our writer wasn't familiar with.
Honestly, I'm sort of surprised to hear this question. A hugely important part of content creation is knowing the product, the audience, and the goals of the client. I couldn't imagine having to brief a different person every time we wanted to six to seven hundred word bit of content produced.
So… for me (and for our clients who hire us) you get one or two content writers who learn your product and work with you for the whole process. We're not strictly a content agency (it's just something we do as part of digital marketing packages that we offer) but I can't imagine not having a client positioned with one voice and style to create the site.
Sounds like you're going with the wrong agencies to me, but… again… I'm not sure of the landscape there right now.
It's for my own personal site and the issue is I have another site I also deal with + clients haha. Trying to be as efficient as possible but I guess I'll have to deal with the process being a bit slower than I'd like. The content I got from said agency wasn't bad or anything, it's just not as good as it could be + not consistent as I'd like it to be. I've been considering doing a huge website with info content only, in that situation I think the agency would make sense.
If you're going through an agency and the writer they give you isn't meeting deadlines or isn't up to snuff, you should be able to request another one. If you're getting freelancers and one doesn't work out, then it's on you to find a new one.
Again… I haven't explored this niche in nearly a decade, but… it seems odd that an agency (unless it's a very very small one with just one or two writers on hand) wouldn't be able to keep you satisfied and going. It "sounds" like maybe the agencies you are going with are really nothing more than a couple of freelancers banding together or something. <shrug> I dunno.
Would you hire an agency or a writer to write a best-selling novel?
Would you hire anyone to write a best-selling novel?
Alex » Micha
Would you hire anyone to write a best-selling novel?
And what would someone who can write a best-selling novel charge to do if for you specifically?
Micha » Alex
My point was that a writer (freelancer) would do a much better job than an agency writing a novel. When it comes to content creation, for me, it always should be the best possible quality if it's intended for readership. Don't write for the sake of Search Engine Optimization (SEO), write for the reader in mind. However there's some cases that you don't need to create articles or written pages with the reader in mind, in which case you'd go for an agency. Most of the time, the very top writers/freelancers charge a lot more, anywhere from $500-2,000 and upwards for a page.
Alex » Micha
"my point was that a writer (freelancer) would do a much better job than an agency writing a novel" – I'll believe that to be fact when I can compare a novel written by a random writer and one written by an agency. What if it was an agency specializing in writing novels? This is just opinion, a hardly provable one. It's like saying a passionate marketer would run the campaign for someone running for president better than an agency doing successful presidential campaigns would. Most of the time that won't be the case.
Micha » Alex
Your point is totally understandable. In the past, my stance came from really niche clients, such as a nursing home client who would require very sensitive word choices. In my search for writers who could deliver the right content, I found that freelancers specialising in nursing home copywriting tend to produce better content than content produced by agencies. By searching for the exact kind of writers for any given niche for my clients or my own projects, I was able to build up my own network of high-quality freelance writers I could rely on. Eventually, I became comfortable doing it this way. With that said, I invalidated my original point since I could easily turn into an agency and offer high quality services using the network I'd built… Since I no longer offer SEO-focused copywriting to clients, I hire freelancers for my own projects nowadays. Nevertheless, I am open to working with agencies now you've mentioned you own one! 🙂 Let's get in touch.
Alex » Micha
Fair enough 🙂 I sent you a PM
I own an agency with 170 people on board, so thought I'd chip in. I'm obviously biased, but then again isn't everyone.
We do 4M words a month. Part of what we do on a daily basis includes:
– Optimizing hiring process to get the best people for the cheapest price. We hire ALL the time, and have people whose job is SOLELY finding good writers and editors. We hire about 2% of everyone who applies, and get over 70 applicants per day on average. Other than conversational English, there isn't much of a barrier of entry to someone applying for a content writer position.
To make matters worse, you have no way of ensuring whether any samples they send and what they say in their CV will have anything to do with the quality of work and their reliability. They will promise you to have something ready by the end of the week, until their grandma dies for the third time this year.
– Make absolutely sure there isn't ANY kind of plagiarism in the content: this means a zero tolerance policy and firing everyone who attempts this. In my experience about a third of freelance writers will attempts this at one point or another, even if it's just simply paraphrasing one single article without look at other references and doing their own research.
– Structure and formatting have to be checked to make sure the client's requirements are being followed.
– Grammar will need to be corrected.
– Fluff will need to be removed.
– Writers will start to burn out or slack off, and this will be your problem to deal with.
– Issues need to be resolved in a timely manner.
– Payments and accounting need to be done.
My point being, we optimize for one thing and one thing only: producing lots of quality content, fast.
This means getting lots of great writers and editors fast, and keeping the ones worth keeping. You can not reach this level of efficiency in THIS AREA unless if you're a content agency that's been optimizing for it over dozens of iterations, simply because of the fact that you can't do everything yourself. Try to do 500k words for your sites in a month, and tell me how it won't take up most of your time just managing it, making sure everything is in order and no one tried to cheat you.
The same way I'm not going to reach an equivalent level of efficiency in an area like link building: there is someone who's been doing this for years and can do it better than I can. Will they make some money if I buy from them? Thankfully, yes, as everyone needs to make a living. But, they'll save me the headache of having to learn every trick in the book myself just to do one thing from my website creation/growth process, which hopefully they've already figured out how to do better, if they're a quality provider.
To me, this question is the equivalent of: "Are Ahrefs/SEMrush/Moz worth it, or should I make my own crawler so I can save $2k a year?". Sure, you could do that. But you're not going to do it better than them unless that's all you do. You're not going to find better programmers, server administrators, or data scientists than they will, at least not for a long time, and you certainly won't organize their work more efficiently.
If you think all content agencies will do a bad job, then:
1. Perhaps you're not willing to pay what a good content agency would charge, or
2. You had the bad luck of only dealing with bad ones that simply resell their low quality writers' subpar content and are in fact more of a marketing agency focused on making more sales.
With all that said, you should 100% know what you're doing and get involved in it as much as possible before you go outsourcing it either way. No one will care about your projects more than you yourself do.
I'm curious (see my comments above). Say I own a company and hire you to create content on specific subjects – would you typically provide me one (or maybe) two writers that are specifically the ones that are creating content for my site? Or would the orders for content just be divvied out to the next person in line?
Alex » Truslow
Normally one senior editor would be in charge of managing your order and doing the final edits – this is where you get that "specialized" feeling that someone who knows what they're doing is writing your content. But have that same $25/hr editor write all your content, and you'll go broke before you see any decent Return of Investment (RoI). A true expert process will outperform an individual in efficiency and often quality every day of the week.
Not many people cooking fries at McDonalds actually make very good fries before they start working there. But plug them into an expert process, and you'll get the same decent quality fries every time. Well, decent quality for what they are, which is fries.
If you want a handful of writers to work on your stuff, then we can do that. But again, my opinion has more to do with the business development side of things, and that is, no business gets to grow very large without expert processes in place, and thinking that a "caring" individual will outperform an expert system is in my opinion a fallacy.
Can you teach your own writers to do things well? Sure. But, in my opinion, that would mean going through unnecessary lengths to get the french fries McDonalds already does very well, and you won't be as cost efficient, as organized, or provide the job security they can provide, thus making you a worse entity to work for.
I wasn't thinking about "caring" writers so much as one that are working with the client regularly end up knowing the brand voice. They wrote last month's article, so they don't need to study it to create a proper callback link and how to connect them more efficiently.
Very cool – thanks for taking the time to explain. And it sound like neither what you're talking about nor what I am familiar with are the same things that Roy is facing.
Cohen ✍️ » Alex
Thanks for the in-depth answer. I think that if I worked more with said agency, I'd have better results. Right now my 2 writers are killing it but they aren't capable of producing as much content as I would like. Would be nice to get another 10-20 articles up each month!
Ammon Johns 🎓
I build in-house teams. If a client needs content marketing today, they are still going to need it next week, next month, next year. Past 6 months the in-house or employed remoters are always, always the best option, able to build a unique voice and make quality content they are not respinning for 5 of your competitors.
Paying a Content Writer as Percentage Instead of a Fixed Price
Does Artificial Intelligence AI Article Writer Need Ethics?
Can Content that gets Written by Artificial Intelligence (AI) Win In Google SERPs?