4 signs that it's time to outsource your content

For some companies, it’s a point of pride to have everything marketing-related done in-house: creative, media buying, social media, and of course, content. But you’re a marketer, not a magician. It’s time to think about how you can share the load and one big way is to outsource content.

Finding balance is more important now than ever. The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated how crucial content is for keeping in touch with customers, writes Shohei Fukano at NewsCred. It’s no surprise then that marketing departments are using content to fill the gap left by IRL events and other in-person touchpoints.

But if you’re in charge of in-house content production, there’s a downside to this content feast. Maybe you’re one of 35% of companies that have only two to five people working on content. Or maybe your company is among the 24% who hasn’t dedicated full-time anyone at all.

In either case, there might come a time when you need to phone a friend. Here are four signs that it’s time to outsource some of your content production.

Resources are dedicated to other projects

As the company grows, resources might be pulled away from the marketing team. Perhaps the design team has been redirected to working on the product, and doesn’t have time to churn out a report for you, no matter how much you bribe them. The marketing team might be called upon to create more content than your team can handle. “There comes a point internally [with] the marketing/design team that the content ambitions exceed the creative capability,” said Bryan Bartlett, a creative director who has worked on content production in-house at tech companies. Planning for this before it happens ensures you’re always ready to share the load.

The content needs to go further

Positioning and promoting the content is just as important as writing and designing it. According to digital marketing consultant Evan DeSimone, “To do good content, it has to be bigger than just [content]. You need to invest time.” Your in-house team could be a crack group of writers and strategists, but your email A/B testing or podcast production might need some outside help. Bringing in a specialist ensures that your content will be evaluated dispassionately so it will reach the people who need it.

Internal expectations are high

The age-old misunderstanding between business and editorial comes home to roost in content marketing. Wanting a “full-tilt daily editorial team” from day one is unrealistic, said DeSimone, but it’s a more common expectation than you’d think. Results-driven senior marketers with little direct content production experience are often setting the benchmarks for success, and sometimes, it’s more than a small team can manage. Bringing in reliable outside partners who you can return to helps you keep several balls in the air. DeSimone said, “Pure resourcing is really challenging [...] Taking one element of a project and handing it off to another party reduces the burden tremendously.”

Topic expertise is lacking

Your content operation might be small and mighty, but still experience knowledge gaps. It’s challenging enough to get a meeting on any senior marketer’s calendar, and more so if it’s just to explain how something works. Internally, “the people with the most expertise have the least time,” said Ricardo Bilton, senior content manager at Free Agency. Large-scale projects are the perfect opportunity to bring in outside expertise. You might even get connected to people and organizations you’d never dream of securing if you did everything in-house.  

—Written and reported by Caroline Bottger, Associate Editor, Industrious

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