A few weeks ago, I wrote about the decline of blogging activity in businesses. Even though this might be offset by increases in marketing activity in places like Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn, it's still a disturbing trend to observe. There are numerous statistics that underscore the importance of a blog to a balanced inbound marketing plan - the most potent one may be this one from HubSpot: businesses that blog attract 55% more site visitors than businesses that don't.
If you're responsible for the development of blog content for your company, you have two primary choices:
1. Develop the needed resources internally.
2. Outsource blog content development to external resources.
Let's take a deeper look at these two choices.
Ideally, if you can develop high quality blog content consistently and rely on your company's internal brain trust for informed support, you're in great shape. HubSpot is a prime example in this category, they rely on their legions of orange-blooded employees to crank out relevant blog content at a prolific rate. It's such an ingrained aspect of their culture, using any other method of content development would feel completely foreign.
On the other end of the spectrum, and more the rule than the exception, are companies with highly intelligent and experience-rich employees with the keys to the blog content kingdom locked up in their collective brains. Typically, this group of employees spans from mid-level in the organizational chart all the way up to the C-suite. Many have customer-facing roles where there exists a steady flow of really rich material - material that can form the foundation of new blog content development efforts.
What are the issues here? You've likely heard them all by now:
Not enough time to write
Not sure what to write about
Don't really like writing
Can't be committed to writing
No one's available/qualified to manage the process
Not sure if it's worth the effort
And this list just covers a few of the internal reasons for not blogging.
If we switch gears to the debate about using external resources, these issues come up:
Outside writers don't know our "voice"
Writers lack the experience to write about our complex issues
External resources aren't dependable
It's too expensive to hire writers
Finding the right writers is too difficult
External copywriters don't know our brand
Someone needs to manage the writers
So, what do you do if your company says yes to blogging and yes to outsourcing? There are a number of options available. If you happen to be a HubSpot user, there are two content development platforms right in the Service Marketplace: Zerys and WriterAccess. The basic role these two services play is one of a broker. They've developed a pool of writers, with a wide range of writing backgrounds and skill levels, that businesses can shop their content assignments to. There's great transparency in determining your blog development costs - the essence of the pricing model is: the higher the word count and the skill level of the writer - the higher the cost to produce the blog content. If you don't already have a solid network of writers to draw from, these two platforms can be of help. Be prepared to play a pretty heavy editing role. On the front end, you have to vet writers prior to assigning a project (and you can build a preferred writer list that exclusively gets to review and accept any of your assignments) and on the back end, you have to review, edit (and provide guidance) and approve the blog content. It takes time and usually, a lot of patience.
There are lots of other options, some bid-based and others fixed-price, such as Elancer, oDesk, TextBroker, StudentGems, iFreelancer and many, many virtual assistants who provide blog writing support. Based on feedback from clients and the business community in general, the biggest challenge with outsourcing blog writing is getting the content to properly reflect the tone, style and experience of the aforementioned brain trust.
There is a brand new entry on the blog outsourcing scene - one that could very well solve the nagging issue of capturing the right "voice". It's called EasyBizBlogging and is the brainchild of Marcus Sheridan of The Sales Lion. (Full disclosure: I have been deeply involved in the launch of EasyBizBlogging and am a sales affiliate for the product.)
EasyBizBlogging uses a four-step process to merge the power of a company's brain trust with the skills of a dedicated writing team. In step one, the client goes through a guided blog title brainstorming process using the consumer question model The Sales Lion (TSL) has developed. In step two, the TSL team reviews, vets and fine tunes the questions for maximum SEO impact. Step three involves a one hour interview (for 10 blog posts) to obtain in-depth information for each of the posts and the interview is recorded and transcribed. In step 4, the transcription is reviewed by the writing team, edited and subsequently delivered to the client for upload into their content management system.
What compelled my involvement in the EasyBizBlogging service was the allure of combining blog outsourcing with the preservation of the company's voice. The goal is to get more companies regularly blogging and leveraging the many benefits from doing so.
You can find more information - the pricing, the process and what to expect in using EasyBizBlogging by clicking on the photo below. Tell Marcus I sent you!
Are any of you or your clients not blogging? Have either you or they used any of the resources mentioned in this post? If so, what experiences can you share?
I'd also love to get feedback on what you think of the EasyBizBlogging approach.