Hey there Sea Changers and welcome back to the site where we discuss all things affiliate marketing as we take our journey towards funding our sea change together. Today I want to discuss with you how to outsource content creation for your website. This post has come about due to a need that has arisen for me personally for my sites as well as a number of questions I have been asked recently on this topic.
Outsourcing can be a scary proposition for many of us (and I say ‘us' as it has always scared me a little) for a number of reasons but usually due to the fact that we are worried about losing control of the content we publish to our sites. We often wonder whether the content will be as good as what we do, or whether it will continue to attract attention. At the end of the day, it is our baby and we are not sure we want to give up complete control over it.
But you know what? If you do it right it can assist you to take your business to levels that you never dreamed of. So let's take a look at what we need to do to ensure that we are going to get the best bang for our buck!
When to outsource
The first thing we need to consider is when the time is right to outsource. Many will say that you should not be outsourcing until your site is making money. And whilst I agree with this to a degree, there are some other influences that might make it worthwhile to outsource some of the work prior to this point. That said, if you do not have any other source of income, then may be that is your first sign as you simply may not be able to afford it – in this case, please continue anyway as the information below may just help tighten your own processes to get you there a little faster.
On the other side of the fence, just because your site is making money is also not necessarily a trigger to outsource either. So with all that in mind let's have a look at some of the reasons that you may choose to outsource:
You are missing publishing deadlines
This is probably the most common reason that affiliate marketers start to look at outsourcing. As websites mature, there always seems to be more and more work to be done. Such requirements as email campaigns, social media, SEO, comment responses and website/post updates all take precious time that could be used for content creation. If doing all this means that you are not getting your posts out as per your publishing schedule, then maybe the time has come.
You don't know how to do something
Again, as your website grows and you start to branch out in other areas within your site, there may be some tasks that just take forever simply because you don't really know what you are doing. A common example of that is the development and ongoing management of email campaigns. If you don't know how to use the autoresponder software then you can lose hours simply trying to work it out. The same can be said for video publishing and graphic design software.
At the end of the day, ask yourself if it is taking you three hours to do something that someone in the know could do in 30 minutes.
Life gets in the way
For many of us, the whole reason that we start down this online business caper is to be able to get out of an office and work from home, or anywhere else that suits us. The problem here is that just because we are working from home, doesn't mean that other things can't distract us. In fact, this happens more often that we realise due to the taking on of school pickup/drop off, work around the house or a part-time job. In many cases, these influences just don't allow us near the laptop as much as we would like/need.
You are losing interest in writing
You still love your site, but have lost the love of writing. Don't fret, it happens. This risk here if you try and push through is that your content will reflect your disinterest, and sadly, your readers will notice it as well.
What to consider
One common mistake that website marketers make once they have made the decision to outsource is to just get someone to write some posts for them. This can certainly alleviate some of the pressure but may not solve the initial problems that you have. So once you have decided that outsourcing might solve some of your problems, there are a few things to consider:
What to outsource
As we discussed earlier, one of the biggest mistakes that many of us make is to just assume that when it comes time to outsource that we get our blog posts written for us. Whilst this is something that as your website matures you will almost certainly do, it might not be the best thing for your site in the first instance.
When considering what to outsource, ask yourself the following questions:
What takes me the most time? – If it is purely just writing posts, then outsource your writing. However if it is setting up and maintaining your email lists and campaigns, then you might want to consider that. Social media is obviously another aspect of online marketing that can take up a lot of time.
What am I best at? – This is what the self-help gurus like to call this “hiring your weaknesses”. If writing is your strong suit but social media is not, then hiring someone who knows what to do in that space can not only increase your social media effectiveness, but also free you up to get back to writing.
What would I have to learn? – If you have an identified need to do with your website – such as create an email campaign but you really do not know how to use an autoresponder, then you may be wasting valuable time that you could be spending elsewhere trying to learn it all. Ask yourself whether you really need to learn something and if not, pay someone else to do it.
The next thing to consider here is a potential return on investment, or ROI. Let's use an example:
Say that you want to get someone to write a review post for you with affiliate links to the product/s being reviewed. If the post costs you $200 to get written, but it generates no income, then you ROI is 0% – bad. If however, the posts are generating $200 per week, then you have doubled your money in 2 weeks (200% – good) and obviously increasing ROI into the future. This is a very simple example but if you alone are writing materials and can only release 1 post a week but you can pay someone else to write 2 more and all achieve 200% in two weeks, then the money spent is well worth it.
When it comes to other area however you may need to measure your ROI differently. In the case of social media and email campaigns, you can measure in a couple of ways:
- Increased traffic – If the new email or social media campaign is aimed at driving traffic to your site, then you will obviously want to be monitoring whether traffic is actually increasing or not. In most cases, you can then apply a financial ROI on the increase based on your average sales per visitor numbers – e.g. If you know you average 10 sales for every 100 visitors, then an increase of another 100 visitors should give you an extra 10 sales on average.
- Increased sales – as per increased traffic, if the results of the outsourced processes should be resulting in increased sales.
- Personal time – this is another aspect of ROI measurement that you may want to consider – especially if you are outsourcing the development of a process that may not generate increased traffic or sales straight away. If you know that you are not good at something and that it will take you way longer to do it than it would someone else, then consider what your time is worth. Again, if you know that you can write a post in 2 hours that is going to get you $200 on average per week, then your time is worth roughly $100 per hour. So if you would take 4 hours to do something that you can hire someone to do in 1 hour, then you are instantly saving yourself $300 in lost time that you can then use to write income generating posts.
What you really want
Once you have decided what it is that you are going to outsource, and as you start to determine your ROI measurements, the next step is to think about what it is that you really want out of your outsourcing process. This is one area that can cause issues for you as you move forward if you have not given this some good consideration from the outset. The reason for this is that if you don't intimately understand what it is that you want, then how can you expect others to get it right for you?
We will expand in this in the next section, however take the time to write down what it is that you REALLY want – i.e. to set me up an email campaign, or promote me on social media is simply not enough. You need to know:
Why are you doing this? – is it to save time, increase sales or traffic or just to get some more stuff done.
What exactly do you want done? – i.e. if they are to run a social media campaign for you then what is it that you want them to do? Will they be promoting a product, your site, you or will you be running a competition?
What are you expected outcomes? Revisit your ROI considerations and set some targets. That way, as you are explaining your requirements to your writer or content creator, you can discuss these requirements and ensure that you are both working on a feasible method to achieve these. Trust me, it is so easy to ask someone to write a post and expect to make $200 a week from it and then realise that that was never going to be possible based on the instructions that you gave them.
Where to find good people
And finally, where are you going to find your content creators? Here are a few areas you can investigate:
Upworks is probably the biggest and most widely used freelance writing platform there is. There are 1000s of writers on there looking for work which is good if you are looking to get a post written. Potential writers need to apply before they are allowed to tender for jobs and Upworks are fairly brutal on who they let in so it is not a bad place to start out if you are looking for someone good
For more information in regards to Upworks, click here.
Fiverr works in a similar vein to Upworks however freelancers offer ‘gigs’ at $5 per pop (hence the name). You have the option to post a number of ‘gigs’ in the site ( I think 7 to start with). Some people make extremely good money from it if they are offering quick, pre done work for $5 – i.e. such as 5 recipes for a healthy cook book or 3 social media posts. There is some good talent on here and it is a good place to test some people out cheaply – especially if you don't have a lot to spend Then, if you do find someone good you can re-hire them at a better rate via the payment of tips.
For more information in regards to Fiverr, click here.
There are numerous others that you can use also from traditional job to niche writing sites. Here are some other options you can try – these are a little smaller than the likes of Upworks as well so you can often find great people at cheaper rates simply because they don't want to go through their application process:
- Craigslist – search freelance writers – in most cases you need to search a particular city however if you look around there are sites that do this work for you and list jobs from multiple areas/countries.
- Seek.com– or any other job search site
- Bloggingpro.com– similar to Upworks
- Mediabistro– TV, PR/marketing, magazine and book publishing and social media
- flexjobs– concentrates more on remote working, part-time contracts and freelance work.
- Airtasker – an online tasking site that connects people with tasks of any type. There is a good market here for blog writers also.
This is a very small list – a simple search for freelance writing jobs on any search engine will open you up to a world of outsourcing opportunities.
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What to provide
Now comes the critical part- providing the right information to ensure that you are going to get exactly what it is that you are after as well as giving yourself the best possible chance of hitting those all important ROI targets. Once you have found someone willing to do your work, you need to provide:
One of the keys to success in outsourcing is to try and get the work being done to be as seamless as possible between what it is that you do, and what it is that any content creators that you hire will do. The first step here is to make sure that they have a good grasp of your website. This includes:
- Niche – Crucial – provide a clear outline of your niche and set clear boundaries.
- Writing style – formal, casual, humorous etc.
- Branding – catch phrases, overall ‘vibe' of the site.
- Audience – who the site is aimed at – or who your most common visitors are.
Some of this may have been covered when discussing your website outline but the style guide describes how you want them to present information. This is not only critical to the website outline requirements but can often affect SEO as well. This includes:
- Fonts – Often set by the website editor and theme but still be clear. Include your preferences for the use of bold and/or colours within the text.
- Heading style – Which headings to include and how to use them – e.g. Heading 2 for major section headers and Heading 3 for sub sections.
- Paragraph structure – Again this will go back to your writing style – some people like one sentence per paragraph, others like two or three. Be clear on how you want this as this will determine their writing structure. This also includes paragraph and line spacing (this is again however often determined by the website theme).
- Images – This is another aspect of branding so be clear on whether you want images, and if so, how many and what type as well as what types not to use (such as images of children on a CBD oil site). Also include preferred size and placement of images and where they can be sourced from.
- Button and Call's to Action – List the options and where they should be used.
- Affiliate links – Outline how and when to incorporate affiliate links.
- SEO requirements – List the requirements that are expected of them – this can include tagging structures for the post and images, internal and external link requirements and meta text and tags.
- Keywords – Outline how keywords will be determined as well as how and where they are to be incorporated into the post and within SEO requirements.
In tandem with the style guide, as you start to talk to a content writer about your requirements, you will want to provide a clear list of instructions for them to work from. Much of this information with come from your thinking around what it is that you want as we discussed in the previous section, however you will also want to include specifics for the role that you are outsourcing. Let's use an example of wanting someone to write a post for us reviewing a product:
- Product: Samsung 4K television
- Keywords: Samsung 55″ 4K television Review
- Details/spec location: www.samsung.com
- Affiliate program – Amazon – [links provided]
- Word count: 1500 – 2000
- Writing style: casual – rest as per style guide
- Audience: All
- Content topics:
- What it is
- How it works
- Pros and Cons
- My thoughts and recommendations
- SEO: As per Style Guide
- Editing requirements – how the editing process will be managed including:
- Media to be used
- Turnaround times
- Editing expectations
- Responsibilities for inclusions such as images, links and SEO
- Posting/publication – provide a clear outline as to who and how the content will be published.
At the end of the day, the instructions must be sufficient to give the writer enough information to be able to write your post as if it were you and to reduce the amount of rework and editing. In time, if you are lucky enough to get your hands on a good writer then the more they write for you the more leeway you may give. For example, you may just give instructions such as “write me 5 review posts on products within my niche” or “three reviews on MLM programs within my niche”.
If your requirements were for an email or social media campaign them you would also need to include:
- Number of posts/emails
- Style guide for social media and/or emails
Metrics in this example are simply the ROI indicators that we discussed earlier. It is up to you (and how well you know your writer) as to how much information you wish to reveal here but at the very least you need to be clear on what you would be aiming for from the post in terms of traffic, sales, open clicks (in the case of emails) or new followers/subscribers (for social media).
This will assist the content creator in determining how to write their posts in an effort to meet these metrics. It will also allow them to discuss them with you to ensure that you are not setting either of you up for failure.
So there you have it, some clear details on what to look at if outsourcing is something that you have a need, or want, to do as part of your online business. I hope it has been helpful and as usual, please do not hesitate to comment below if you have any questions, need some advice or have any experiences to share.
Do you want further assistance with any of the above or are you not quite at that level yet?
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Until next time
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