5 Content Outsourcing Pros and Cons
August 5, 2019 | by Timothy Wier
If you’re considering whether to bring on an agency to help with content marketing and production, there are some important content outsourcing pros and cons you should consider.
Making the decision to outsource isn’t something that should be made lightly. Sure, it may seem like an easy choice: you want to grow, and bringing someone on board will help you do that. But here are a few other factors to consider:
- Any content outsourcing requires you to build and maintain a relationship with a third-party, which requires work on your part
- You’re bringing in people who are not acquainted with your business or necessarily your market, meaning that you’ll have to take time to educate them
- Your content defines your brand, so you really don’t want to leave that entirely in the hands of a third party
Outsourcing your content production isn’t just an easy, “set it and forget it” decision. It requires work on your part. If you aren’t ready to put in that work, then it may not be time to outsource.
Here are five content outsourcing pros and cons to think about when weighing this decision.
A good agency will definitely provide the writing, video, design, and audio expertise you need to create exciting and engaging content. However, they’ll lack a specific knowledge of your business and possibly your industry, one that you’ll have to overcome.
Pro: You can leverage your agency’s content production expertise
Regardless of the content skill set that you are looking to outsource, the right agency will provide the skills and expertise necessary to produce great content for that medium.
Besides knowing how to create great content, a good agency will know how to leverage that content for specific channels: what works on Facebook versus LinkedIn, for example.
You didn’t get into your business to create web content or marketing videos. It doesn’t make sense that those skill sets be where you put your primary focus. Bringing on someone who can help provide the expertise in these areas can help take your business to the next level.
Con: Your agency won’t have your level of industry knowledge or experience
Although the company you bring on board is going to be an expert in the area of content production, they’re naturally going to lack deep knowledge of your industry, customers, and business.
That means that you may need to take some time with your agency to educate to the point that they can create someone that accurately represents your business. If you have a good agency, they should recognize this gap and actively work to overcome it.
But still, you should work the relationship from both sides. They can actively work with you to understand your business better, and you can actively work with them to make sure they fill in those “unknown unknowns.”
When you outsource your content through an agency, you can focus on other tasks that need your attention. But, on the other hand, your agency is still a team you need to manage, so you must invest time in maintaining the relationship.
Pro: You’ll save time in the long run
Ultimately, it’s a question of math. You’re bringing on team of creatives, not just a single person. You get to leverage the entire range of not only their expertise, but the time they can invest in you.
You’ve got more people working for you when you bring on an agency, so you’ll save time.
Con: There will be a short-term investment of time in getting them up to speed
There’s going to be some upfront investment in getting your agency up to speed on your business, your customers, and your industry. In addition to that, there’s the standard onboarding that happens any time you bring someone new into the mix.
You have to take the time to manage the relationship with the agency. This will require regular communications to establish expectations, set goals, collaborate, etc. It’s important that you still drive the relationship with the agency and not lean on them for all the work. That takes time.
Not only does an agency save you time, but they help you scale your content to the point where you’re maximizing effectiveness. Of course, the more they create, the higher the cost to you.
Pro: An agency can help you produce more content at scale
For small companies, quantity of content is critical for achieving visibility and capturing your audience’s attention. The more you post, the more likely you are to reach your audience. And you can also address more topics, allowing you greater specificity with each individual topic, increasing the likelihood that you’ll create something that resonates with them.
An agency helps you realize these benefits by scaling the content you create. They have the labor, so they can keep creating as much as you need.
Con: You have to pay a sliding scale for the amount of content produced
Many agencies charge either by the hour or by the project. Either way, the more they produce for you, the more it’s going to cost you.
Of course, you have to pay for your content whether you outsource or not. It’s just that when you hire in-house, that cost is less visible and assumed into your employees’ salaries. And when you do it yourself, you still have to pay the opportunity cost.
Content quality is vital. If you publish content that’s harmful to your brand, it could hurt your reputation. An agency can help you fill the gaps in terms of production quality, but they may have issues in the ultimate metric of quality: value to your audience.
Pro: An agency will be able to produce higher quality content in terms of technical execution
Your audience is the ultimate arbiter of whether your content is high-quality or not. That said, having a cleanly edited video or a headline that pops off the page certainly doesn’t hurt. Those are the areas where an agency will be able to help improve your overall content quality.
The more barriers to consumption you can eliminate, the better. That’s one of the reasons why content repurposing is so important: so people can consume in whatever way is easiest for them.
The same logic applies to everything from good grammar to video lighting to a podcast that doesn’t have constant static in the background. Because they produce content for many brands, your agency will be the source of technical expertise in these areas, boosting your production quality.
Con: An agency may struggle with the ultimate metric of quality: relevance to your audience
The point of content is to educate and entertain your audience, who will find what you produce so great that they’ll consider becoming a customer. And if they’re already engaged in the buyer’s journey when they encounter your brand, you want to make sure they stick with you and not go to a competitor.
An agency simply won’t have the experience with your audience that you have, meaning that “quality” from an audience relevance perspective is not going to be there. This is something that will change over time as your agency learns more about your business and your relationship grows over time. But you must be aware of this significant weakness when considering content outsourcing pros and cons.
The decision to outsource is ultimately a business decision. You have to decide whether it’s worth it to invest in a high-quality agency to generate a greater return on investment.
Pro: Outsourcing your content marketing through an agency will be a long-term investment
If you’ve done a good job selecting an agency that brings the necessary expertise, scale, quality, and freeing of time to your business, the last thing to consider is the price. Since content marketing is a long-term play, then your investment in your agency is going to be a long-term play as well.
Of course, there are ways to expedite this. And you always want to make sure your agency is taking steps to generate ROI-positive content so you get to your revenue goals faster.
But over time, as the relationship grows and you build up your assets and audience, that relationship will pay off over the long term.
Con: An agency requires a monthly financial commitment that some startups aren’t ready to take on
Of course, the fact that content marketing is a long-term investment means that it’ll take some time before the returns come in. While it’s true you get what you pay for, for startups, sometimes having that money to pay in the first place can be a challenge. And agencies aren’t cheap.
That means you have to really do some work on whether this will generate a return and how quickly that’s going to happen. It may mean that you start small and then scale as the returns come in. There are plenty of creative strategies to outsource your content without breaking the bank.
The decision to outsource is certainly not an easy one, and it definitely will have consequences on your business. But if you can weigh these content outsourcing pros and cons ahead of time, then you can make sure that go into the relationship eyes-open and maximize the return on investment.
After you evaluate these content outsourcing pros and cons, see if FEARLESS can help you get started. We offer scalable plans that start small and grow as the returns come in. Click here to learn more.