Sandi MacPherson, Editor-in-Chief at Quibb

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Co-Founder & CEO at Scoop.it

Why do you consider outsourcing as the only option @lydialaurenson @sandimacpherson? Great post but outsourcing is much more a way to scale than a way to start.
I love what former HubSpot's Jay Acunzo wrote on that topic: http://nextviewventures.com/blog/should-startups-blog/ If you're going to do content marketing as a startup, your content should solve the same problem your product does. Who else than one of the founders can be the voice of your content?
So I'd argue that you should either not do content marketing or do it yourself as a founder. With your vision, your learnings, etc... Then, when you've learned what content gets your audience to convert, you can scale through outsourcing (but here again, that's not your only option. Here are other lean content practices you might want to consider: http://blog.scoop.it/2015/03/25/11-effective-lean-content-marketing-practices-to-generate-roi/)

Editor-in-Chief at Quibb

Really great points, Guillaume. Thanks for all of the supporting resources too.
(Also, I flubbed on the title... it should be "How To Hire Writers For Content Marketing: Reviewing The Options For Quibb", much more niche than how to do content overall and building a strategy for content.)
I asked Lydia to survey what the current solutions are, to help me better understand my options wrt creating content. This wasn't meant to be a final 'this is what Quibb will do now' post :) I was also curious to see the different 'products' that some of these outsourcing companies offer, to get a better understanding of how they could potentially assist in making content for Quibb. As Lydia found in her research - it seems like most of them are tailored to do everything, soup-to-nuts. That said, I know some other platforms like Kate Kendall's CloudPeeps offers professionals to help with some of the more mundane tasks associated with writing content (e.g. creating and inserting UTM links, finding photos, copyediting, etc etc.), which would be in-line with more of what you're suggesting, i.e. the CEO/Founder actually drives the whole thing.
People seem to be interested in this topic, so I'll be sure to update everyone once I've got all my thoughts together on this :)

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Co-Founder & CEO at Scoop.it

Ah ha! Saw what you did there with the title: nice click bait, well done! ;-)

There's also DOZ (http://www.doz.com/) which can help find marketing pros for hire if you're going down that route but again the important stuff is to understand what your content should be about and no one will know that better than you. Happy to help if you'd like to follow up: I've been going through this myself (which is how/why we ended up building Scoop.it and Scoop.it Content Director).

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Founder and CEO at CloudPeeps

Hey Sandy! Thanks so much for the recommendation for CloudPeeps. I just wanted to clarify that we have a range of Peeps in the community – some are incredible senior and can do a lot more than just "mundane tasks". We have folks that have done content and community strategy for Airbnb, Lyft, Unbounce, Customer.io, Mention, Nike, Anthropologie, Samsung, etc. If a client needs a full content strategy creating and implementing – Peeps can do that end-to-end, which is unlike a lot of the pay-by content pieces marketplaces. :)

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News Deeply, Audacity & Empathy

Hey Kate! Thanks for commenting -- I didn't realize that CloudPeeps was also a content marketing solution. I'm curious about how you ensure quality for the content that you create?

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News Deeply, Journalism For Brands

I absolutely agree that Sandi is an amazing writer, and she has great insights. It would be awesome if she was able to write all the time! With that said, Sandi is also a singular founder, and she has a lot on her plate. :) I think there are a lot of things that content could do for Quibb that could be outsourced to a writer (or team of writers), especially since Quibb is a media platform itself.

CEO and Co-Founder at Brolik

Agreed, Guillaume Decugis - While it may be challenging, getting your core team involved as a starting point is the way to go. The voices of your organization will create authenticity and you'll also build personal brand and writing skill for team members in the process. There are some good tips on building a team of in-house content creators here: http://brolik.com/blog/blogging-tips-build-team-content-creators/

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Creator/Host, Unthinkable podcast

I just saw you mention this as I was digging around Quibb today - thanks so much Guillaume!

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Digital Strategist at Self-employed

Have you checked out Freelanship.com? They have a growing (curated) database of more than 700 freelance young people on their site - the majority of whom are writers (studied journalism). It's HIGH CALIBER content comparable to the price you'd pay a freelancer on Elance - but all based in the US.

http://blog.freelanship.com/content-marketing-budget/

News Deeply, Audacity & Empathy

How does it assure quality? :)

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Digital Strategist at Self-employed

yes ma'am - stands behind it 100%

News Deeply, Audacity & Empathy

I'm very curious about how quality assurance is done. :) How do you ensure that it's high caliber content?

Digital Strategist at Self-employed

The founder manually approves everyone in her database, and for VIP clients, a seasoned editor reviews the content before its submitted back to the client.

Co-Founder at Shape

Would be nice if you could show some samples of how the quality compares. Right now it seems all anecdotal and may turn out different for everyone...

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Editor-in-Chief at Quibb

Agree - I'd like that too :) Currently, it's too early and there's too little data for the various posts to figure out exactly what worked vs. didn't work so well. I'm hoping to keep working on figuring out some of that in the coming weeks.
Beyond this post, I'll be sure to share my plans going forward, and results. Content marketing/content strategy seems like it's a hot topic these days.

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Co-Founder at Shape

Cool, looking forward to see the results then. I'm also trying to figure out content right now.

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I have an agency - we write for companies. (We also do strategy and design and branding - but my point here is about writing, so that's what I'm focusing on.)

Writing original content takes time, also multiple eyes is always a good thing. You get that with an agency. You also get consistency - we keep the knowledge in-house. Your main writer goes on holiday? Your work is covered. No need to worry about someone finding a job somewhere else and hiring someone new - we deal with that. Also, the work gets better over time as our expertise in your specific market grows.

We do retainer work. Depending on the content the work can be anywhere from $5k and up a month - but you get a lot for that (generally 2-3 researched and well written articles per week OR 1 infographic for 2 articles (infographics take ages to do) + social media + strategy).

It costs more, but we do the vetting for you. If the style of one writer doesn't seem to be jiving, we find a different writer for you.

My point wasn't an infomercial for my agency - but more to tell you that for a bit more money there are alternatives that bring you a lot more. You no longer have to spend time searching.

There are a lot of writing agencies out there. Perhaps you should consider one?

Content Marketing Director at B2 Interactive

Nice article!

I'm a big advocate for doing content marketing in-house, or hiring an agency that integrates content marketing into a larger digital strategy and works alongside you as a partner to make sure that your industry expertise shines through. I completely understand that this isn't always an option, and will be transparent that I haven't had any experience will "content mills" to this point.

Through my experiences, I've definitely come to value having a content marketing team to work with within our agency. I'd say writing is probably the easiest part of content marketing, with distribution being the hardest (but most important.) Reaching influencers, finding communities where your content can thrive and create conversations, and figuring out other ways to make sure the content has a significant impact typically takes way more time than the writing. Maybe there are content mills that handle that, but I'm sure most don't.

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Good writing is rarely easy.

Independent

Nice post. I'm biased because I'm a content marketer but I do think that in-house is the best option if you have it available. The tribal knowledge and accountability are just higher than with an outsourced option. But it's the classic build vs. buy tradeoff, so each company needs to really understand the goals, objectives and values of content marketing and make their calculations accordingly.

News Deeply, Journalism For Brands

Agreed -- definitely pro hiring in-house or having the CEO do the writing if possible. It's not financially or logistically possible for everyone, though!

Growth Marketer at HubSpot

I love this teardown of the various options.

I'm confident in my writing and haven't done jobs on oDesk or Freelance fro the reason stated in this post, that it's a lot of work for little pay. I've seen offers as low as $0.01/word (and I'm sure there are lower offers).

I agree with Lydia's recommendation at the end of the post. As a content marketer, I've found it more useful to hire someone with experience in writing (whether it be through their own personal projects or previous work) and train them to work toward the goals you have.

It's more difficult to teach someone to write than it is to tell someone who knows how to write, to write with a specific goal in mind.

Andrew Goldner, Quibb, GrowthX, Kauffman Foundation Andrew Goldner
Quibb, GrowthX, Kauffman Foundation
Andrew Chen, Quibb, Uber Andrew Chen
Quibb, Uber