Let’s do a quick recap.
We have talked about how content creation works, and what makes/breaks content writing. There was a really quick introduction to content outsourcing in the previous article. What we do here is to blow that up piece by piece so that you have a really easy, proven way to outsource your content creation job.
The Basics of Content Outsourcing
You have only 24 hours a day out of which your work day is typically 10 hours. Let’s say you work non-stop for those 10 hours, and each article will take you 2 hours to write. With an assumed value of $10 per article that works out to be $50 per day, and $1500 if you work for 30 days that month.
That may be a lot of money for a few people out there, but that is also a lot of hard work. There is certainly lot of money in content creation, but not if you do everything yourself.
On the other hand, if it your own blog you would not be churning 10 articles a day anyway. Instead, focus on generating 1 excellent article per day.
This brings us to the question of scale. Do you want to expand your business, or write articles to your fullest personal capacity?
This also brings us to the question of priorities. Which is important – your online business and the aim to earn money, or writing content hour after hour?
There is nothing wrong in either decision.
I chose to earn money. I chose to optimize available time and energy to maximise earnings.
And, the only way to do that is to outsource your content generation.
Hire people who can create content for you. You act as a middleman, a front for that organization, and provide the name of your company as assurance of quality.
Content is a numbers game.
When you go out there and tell people that you can create content, you will get a substantial number of requests to see samples and content creation orders. You generate all this interest within days. You will most likely end up with more than a few requests.
You have only so many work hours.
If you stop accepting orders, your buyers will loose interest. You need to keep the momentum going in the initial days to make a name for yourself. If you accept orders and don’t deliver, you will loose customers.
You can resolve this situation only if you have enough people creating content.
More the content you write, more money you earn. This requires you to scale in terms of how much content you can churn out, the “peak” demand and the diverse requests you can address.
Types of Content Outsourcing
You can expand content creation business linearly with the number of people that can create content for you.
For written content, there are three types of jobs that you can outsource:
1. Create content
This is the most basic form. You outsource content creation projects to external people (or agencies).
The people who you outsourced to will create content in the time you stipulate for them, and submit it to you after completing their work. For example, you could outsource “1000 words to explain how LED television works, and how it is different from a LCD television”.
The content creator will research the subject, outline the subject in clear words, and submit this in pre-agreed format. The format can be a document (.doc format), a document + relevant image, or a plain text file.
No content creator is perfect.
Every content creator reviews her own work. It is all the more better if someone else reviews the content.
In the case of written content, editorial is probably as important as content writing. An editor will:
- Make sure the basic requirement from the order is fulfilled – number of words are as expected, the tone of article (e.g. friendly, formal) is as per the requirement, and no grammatical errors exist
- Review content correctness and accuracy. For e.g. it is better to have fact-based claims, but it is mandatory to have at least one source for assured correctness of the content.
- Consistency of the argument. For e.g., if the article is to support people who deny global warming, the facts and figures should also support the claim
Depending on how your business is set up, an editor makes corrections in the original content after marking up the changes, guide the creator to make those corrections (typical way), or reject the article and send it back to creator.
Each content order goes through a process – you receive the order, content gets created, content gets edited, and content reaches the customer.
A coordinator will –
- Ensure that the content creation process is moving forward
- See to it that your team is picking up the content orders, and delivering on them within the stipulated time
- Keep an eye on the clock for each order
- Deliver content to customer
- Assist in advertising your business
- Assist in addressing any customer questions
You may discover additional jobs depending on the nature of content creation. You would want to identify whether it makes sense to do those jobs yourself, or outsource them while you focus on the core business.
When to outsource content creation?
You have assured scale only when you outsource work.
The way I started up was – I get business, write content, deliver content. So, I do all the work involved. This took a lot of time. As you can imagine I did not have time to do anything else.
I later moved on to outsourcing the content creation, while I do the editorial and coordination. A few weeks later I found that editorial jobs were best outsourced as well. This freed me up to contact Bloggers, find new sources from where I can get business, and think about other avenues of earning money rather than writing content all day long.
The final state was to outsource coordination as well. I did not quite get to that state because it was not as much fun to me! I do not quite actively compete in content creation space any more, so this state is reserved for future use. I do guide other people from time to time, and these posts hopefully do something more in that direction.
The question of “when should I start outsourcing” does not have one right answer. It depends on a number of factors.
- Your willingness to work with other people on the internet
- Availability of time and energy to spend on content creation
- Your day job
- Your other interests
Although I have written about whether you need to outsource in the earlier part of the course, it is a good time for a refresher. Ask yourself this..
- Do I want to create content, or manage a business?
- Am I going to earn money writing content by myself, or scale?
- Am I here because I love creating content, or do I want to earn more money?
- Do I want to earn small amount of money on the side, or create a business around content?
If you have answered “yes” mostly to the first part of the question, you may not need serious outsourcing today. Consider the money spent/earned vs. time spent/earned while evaluating outsourcing.
My recommendation is to outsource content creation on day one!
Outsourcing this day and age is almost too easy. You are missing out on opportunities to earn money if you are not outsourcing work. Outsourcing frees you up to focus on getting more business, and identifying hidden opportunities to expand. Else, you will be way too involved in *doing* the actual work rather that earning money from it.
You will see just how easy is it to do this.
There are various jobs in content creation for a small / one-person business. The three roles that I described in the content creation process can be managed by one person, or a team.
While you are starting a business, follow the below blueprint for outsourcing work-
- Identify platforms where you will outsource
- Identify roles and requirements from your (future) team
- Recruit your team
- Identify tracking tools
- Start your business!
Where to outsource?
There are more than few good platforms that are valuable for outsourcing. For written content I find two platforms work just great.
iWriter has been my best source for getting content created.
iWriter is an effective medium to outsource content creation. You just have to create a request for new article, provide basic information about the category, tone and purpose of content, and any other specific information. Your request is queued to be seen by authors – you can choose whether you need premium authors (higher cost), or specific authors who you have worked with before.
At any time, there are tens of authors monitoring the request queues. You will have typical blog content written within 2-4 hours.
You could get blog posts, eBooks and any other content written (or rewritten) on iWriter. You can reject as many articles as you want until you find something that is of acceptable quality. Yes, you do spend/loose time in doing that.
I have used iWriter extensively in the past.
iWriter is cheap – costs $3 for 500 words from a standard writer. As you choose a higher level of writer (e.g. Premium, Elite, or Super Elite) you will pay more per word.
Depending on your own client relationship and the purpose of the written content, you can choose standard (better for SEO/filler posts and to get content rewritten) or Premium.
Before you build a multimillion dollar content brokering business on iWriter know this – as per the terms of iWriter you are granted an exclusive non-transferable license to the content created through iWriter. This means legally you are not entitled to sell it elsewhere.
Read more of pros and cons of iWriter.
oDesk is an outsourcing platform that you cannot just miss out.
You can use oDesk for not only written content, but also for writing content, creating images and media, for editorial jobs, and just for anything legal under the sun.
I often use oDesk for getting authors, as well as editors.
Create a content creation project on oDesk for a fixed term, and invite bids. For example: “I want to get 50 articles on various topics over 1 – 4 weeks”.
Do not pay by the hour.
oDesk is excellent as a platform to get work from. You can build better relationships with the clients on oDesk, and look at long term money earning opportunities. You can easily get work in bulk and clients tend to remain with you if you provide consistency and quality.
Freelancer.com is similar to oDesk.
You can outsource written content, and get images/videos to go with it.
Although many writers exist in multiple avatars on more than one freelancing platform, I have generally found oDesk to be a better platform.
Tips and best practices
These best practices have worked well for me –
Recruiting content creators
- Be unsure if you are unsure: Specify the timeline when you are inviting bids. If you are unsure on what to expect, provide something like “I want 10 articles over the next 2 weeks on various topics. I will provide you the topics, you need to turn around in 4 hours per article.”. This is not required in iWriter, since you can post the article requirement as you receive it
- Recruit multiple authors: Start with at least 2 in two different time zones. Recognize that authors are humans – they may suddenly fall sick, have other urgent commitments, or make themselves unavailable for all the strange reasons in the world. Your business should not be impacted by the writers. If one writer is unable to complete because of any reason, redirect to the other writer.
Have iWriter as the backup. You can just queue the post to a different writer in iWriter.
- Discriminate based on cost: The only authors who will work cheap are from third-world countries. You will get writers with adequate language skills from India, and Philippines
- Don’t be afraid to try something new: Most platforms have ratings. Top-rated authors come with higher cost. Be sure to select at least 1 author who is starting up on the job. She will write for lesser money, and who knows – you can hit find a really good writer who is most likely to work longer term.
- Go long term: Writers seem to like it when you say “required for long term assignment”, and “repeat business”. Don’t forget to mention that you are interested in long term relationship.
Getting work done
- Track diligently: The urgency and priority that you accord to your business may not be reflected in the work of your authors. Do not outsource 10 articles and check on the writer at the end of 3 days, it is possible they have not even understood what you wanted.
Check on the authors every day if possible. Set smaller milestones to track progress. For example, ask them to submit 2 articles every 8 hours.
- Automate as much as possible: You will track, write and communicate (a lot) while getting work done. Use email templates, tracking tools, automatic reminders and anything that reduces dependency on your manual action. There are good tools available to get work done as efficiently as possible.
- Be careful about scope: While writing jobs are fairly easy to understand, some of the jobs may also require you to send the URLs of the images and videos along with the written content. Be careful on what you agree to and get that work done by your authors.
I will tell you my exact methods in the subsequent sections.