As a small business owner, you have it rough when it comes to finding the right content marketer to provide valuable content that drives buyers to purchase your products or services.
You need content that can build brand awareness, attract visitors to your website, build trust, earn permission to offer your products or services, convert fans into customers and create loyalty. It’s a huge task for one individual, especially if that individual is you.
At some point, you’ll probably realize that it’s better to outsource some or all of your content marketing for your small business so that you can focus on growing other aspects of your business. Here are four tips to consider to help you find the right person.
Start with strategy
Before you can outsource anything, you have to decide why you’re creating content in the first place. Just like “everyone’s doing it” wasn’t OK when you were in high school, it’s still not OK in your business.
The best place to start is to look at your vision, which includes your mission, values and purpose. Then, write down exactly how you want your content marketing to support each of those components. It’s likely that your mission includes a revenue or customer goal so consider how you’ll craft messages and other assets that build brand awareness and trust in order to convert visitors into buyers over time.
There’s a good chance that your strategy will include a blog and social media channels that you update consistently. Consistency beats frequency in content marketing for small businesses.
Many business owners start out with the passion and drive to update their blogs three to five times a week. It's what an expert told them to do, what they see on other blogs or because they think they need it for SEO benefits.
Just like exercise, frequency is important, but not if it leads to burnout or a blog that looks like a ghost town. It's better to be consistent. Start with high-value, well-written content on your blog at least twice per month and then add more content over time.
Set a budget
Creating a budget occurs after strategy and frequency because you have to identify what you need first. If you don't have the budget to get everything you need today, you'll at least know the gaps that you need to fill by either creating your own content or cutting other areas of the budget.
With most things in life, you get what you pay for. A content marketer does so much more than a freelance writer, so make sure you determine if you’re looking for a writer or a marketer. They’re not the same.
The price of a blog post can start at as little as $5 or cost thousands of dollars. Obviously, if you're paying the lower end of the spectrum, you'll need to check for plagiarism and grammar. You'll also need to plan time in your schedule to revise it, upload it to your site, add the metadata and distribute it.
The best rule of thumb is to determine a fair price based on the service provided by the content marketer and the value that each content marketing piece provides over its shelf life. As you continue to add more content to your blog, you'll discover that certain posts bring you more sales and you'll refine your budget to bring you the most return on investment.
Finding a Content Marketer
It’s time to outsource some or all of your content marketing asset creation. You have a strategy, frequency and budget. The search is on.
There are hundreds of thousands of content marketing professionals all over the Internet. The challenge is to find the best one that you can afford using word of mouth, through an organization or by searching online.
Word of mouth
What’s interesting about the some of the best freelance content marketers out there is that they don't own or update their blogs. If they happen to have a blog, they’re not blogging daily or even weekly. They’re like the hairdressers who don’t cut their own hair or accountants who request extensions on their personal taxes. They're in such high demand that they neglect the one thing they tell everyone else to do.
Content marketers who are so busy writing for everyone else are the ones you want to try to get to write for you. They’re busy for a reason, and it has to do with quality, service, price or all three. The next time you’re at a luncheon or event, ask your peers to refer you to a content marketer, and be thankful if they give you the name of theirs.
There aren’t many organizations that certify content marketers, but there are a few. Copyblogger maintains a list of certified content marketers who meet the their stringent standards, and Content Marketing Institute hosts a directory of agencies. The marketers on these sites aren't on the low end of the pricing spectrum, but they have taken the time to make sure they stay in the know in the ever-changing landscape of digital marketing.
LinkedIn is a great social networking site and resource for your content marketer search. There are over 5,000 professionals who use the term content marketer in their profiles, and if you expand your search to include the term: freelance writer, you'll get more than 271,000 results. Find out whom your peers are connected to in the industry and ask for an introduction.
If you’re having trouble getting your peers to pony up the name of their content marketer, you can search Google or try freelance websites like ODesk, Freelancer, Elance and Fiverr. The best thing about using these sites is that you only pay if you accept the work and there’s no commitment to use a freelancer for a second job, which is both a curse and a blessing.
The positive news is that the freelancers who don't perform don't get paid. You also don't have to use them again. On the flip side, high-ranking freelancers typically have enough work to keep them busy. It’s possible that they’ll treat your business like a number, so get in line or pay more to move to the front. They may also farm out your work to someone who gets paid pennies overseas. Ultimately, if you get the quality that you want, on time and at a decent price, you may not care or want to know how the job gets done.
If you find great content marketers who are reasonably priced, either load them up on assignments before someone steals them away or pay them more to earn their loyalty. In today's market, freelancers are treated like cogs in a machine. The more you treat them like an employee by showing them respect and care, the better your chances are of getting great content over and over again.