By Michele Linn published June 24, 2011

Looking for Help with Content Marketing? Tips on What to Outsource

After adopting the concept of content marketing, one of the next revelations is typically this:  “How am I going to get all of this done?” One surefire way is to get help (using a service such as Junta42), but how exactly do you do that?

In this upcoming series of posts, our CMI contributors, who span the gamut from consultants to agencies to clients, will help you figure out how to get the content marketing help you need.

Up first, they answer this important question: “Which parts of the content marketing process are best to outsource (e.g. strategy, process, content production, distribution, and measurement, etc?)”

I believe that the writing part of content production is easier to outsource than people think. I think it is a fallacy that content production has to be 100% by the internal expert to be genuine. Good content writers can interview experts, for example, and then write up a white paper/blog/presentation, thus saving enormous amounts of time. Internal experts are often too busy and often, frankly, daunted by the job of writing. It goes without saying that they need to handle any reaction to their work – comments, etc. – themselves. John Bottom (@basebot)

The best part of the content marketing process to outsource is the writing of the content. One benefit of an outside writer is fresher and more targeted content because the writer has an external perspective on your company and can more easily get into the mind of the targeted audience. In addition, an outside writer enables you to take advantage of current trends in content marketing, as he or she has an up-to-date understanding of best practices in writing, formatting and distribution in many industries and businesses.- Manya Chylinski

While starting content marketing can be overwhelming,  it’s most important to keep elements that are most critical to your business in-house. Therefore, content marketing strategy, social media and related metrics should be integrated with your business and marketing strategy.Next, before you outsource content creation, ask your employees if they’d like to contribute to your content creation process. The benefit is that they have deep knowledge of your business, and they may be the best candidates to  convey your stories. Don’t overlook the variety of social media content formats. To this end, it’s critical to have editorial support to organize the content and provide copy editing to take away the fear of poor writing skills.- Heidi Cohen (@heidicohen)

First take an assessment of your internal staff skills, and perhaps more importantly, the time you haveavailable.  I see a lot of clients with skills but no time to do them.  One quick example: A large Sports Expo client with two trained journalists on staff  bought a video cam for each.  They have fun visual events at their shows (such as splash dog competition to see how far dogs can jump into a pool of water), but they cannot find the time to shoot videos and quickly post them to their site that  could go viral! Using that as an example, anything you don’t have time to do should go on a list.  Next, prioritize them by those most likely to bring you new business — the best ROI for your outsourcing costs.  Then get going.
Scott Frangos (@webfadds)

I don’t think you can completely outsource any of it. But you can get tactical help in any of the places you mention as long as you still keep an active role. The content production is the most out-sourceable of the processes but only if you’re right on top of it. If you try to outsource the whole process or big chunks of it, the work will end up losing its authenticity. And authenticity is the magic ingredient of content marketing.- Doug Kessler (@dougkessler)

Two areas of the content marketing process are extremely suitable for outsourcing.

  • An experienced content marketing consultant adds enormous value in developing an overall strategy. In addition to knowing exactly how to promote your business with a variety of content types, you’ll also receive help understanding the complexities of how best to implement your strategy.
  • Outsourcing content production usually produces a higher quality product and quicker delivery times, offsetting the investment required. It also allows you to work with experts for each type of content – writing, video, graphic design, social media, etc.

Sarah Mitchell (@globalcopywrite)

Ideally, we’d all like to have in-house resources to devote to this vital process. But since that isn’t always the case, I’d suggest working with a trusted resource to help mold and define your strategy first, especially if you’ve not had experience with this in the past. A professional content marketer will have the experience to know what kinds of questions need to be asked and  to organize  a comprehensive plan that addresses all of the obstacles that your organization faces. They’ll also  help you decide what other areas may be best to outsource, depending on your unique skills and resources.- Elise Redlin-Cook (@redlincook)

In my opinion, strategy can go either way as long as individuals from the organization are fully invested in the development process. It’s OK to work with consultants if your organization is just getting familiar with  how to approach a content marketing strategy, but in the end, the meat of the content has to come from the folks inside your business.  New content ideas will surface over time and the strategy will evolve. The organization needs to actively participate in order to ensure that the evolution is driven from within the culture of the business. Content production, distribution and measurement can be outsourced with the right level of guidance from internal managers and directors. But some of the conversations that the content creates online need to be delivered and responded to by internal authorities and personas. Outsourcing is possible here too as long as the processes for response are designed with the nature of real-time taken into consideration.  Your customers don’t like to wait long for you to respond when they talk.- Nate Riggs (@nateriggs)

When it comes to content marketing, you can outsource quite a bit. Deciding what to outsource comes down to assessing your in-house skill gaps, time constraints, organizational goals and even what you just plain hate to do. But one area of content marketing that can’t be outsourced is your thought leadership. The innovative ideas your company uses to set itself apart need to bloom from within. While a consultant can help you uncover the secret sauce that gives you a competitive edge — and can even help prioritize ideas — your employees need to paint and spread the vision.- Stephanie Tilton (@StephanieTilton)


There are a number of commonalities among our contributors’ responses:

  • No matter what you outsource, you still need to commit the time and energy to making the project a success.
  • It can make sense to outsource strategy, but you can’t outsource thought leadership and authenticity.
  • One of the most common aspects of content marketing to outsource is creation.

Stay tuned next week when our contributors help you decide if you need a consultant or agency to help with your content marketing needs.

I’d love your thoughts. What parts of the content marketing process have you had success outsourcing?

Author: Michele Linn

Michele Linn is the co-founder and chief strategy officer of Mantis Research, a consultancy focused on helping brands create and amplify original research they can use in their marketing. Before starting Mantis, Michele was head of editorial at Content Marketing Institute, where she led the company's strategic editorial direction, co-developed its annual research studies, wrote hundreds of articles, spoke at industry events and was instrumental in building the platform to 200,000 subscribers. In 2015, she was named one of Folio's Top Women in Media (Corporate Visionary). You can follow her on Twitter at @michelelinn.

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  • Lucinda Brook

    Being able to consistently develop compelling content is a pain point that comes up again and again in content marketing surveys. But actually a lot of organisations miss the big picture – compelling content, comes from defining the strongest strategy up front, creating the right processes and plans, identifying strong internal evangelists (and training them up where appropriate) and getting all the different marketing levers to use content as a hub. By marketing levers, I mean e-marketing, SEO, social media, PR – all have one common core which is content and all need a slightly different style / approach. So while outsourcing content writing to a copywriter for example might help ensure continuity – you’d need a strategist to ensure that that content fits into an overall plan and meets core business objectives. And so on and so on. Outsourcing to a content marketing specialist therefore that sees the big picture and has skills to meet your marketing needs across the mix can make the whole engine work that bit harder… Sceptics will say I would say that but as a passionate business person / entrepreneur myself, we wouldn’t have set up our business if we didn’t believe firmly there was a gap in the market… 🙂 Lucinda Brook, Director, Marketing Clout –

    • Michele Linn

      Great point. While outsourcing writing helps – and is the most common thing to outsource – you aren’t going to see the results you desire unless you have the right strategy in place. Getting that plan together is a great thing to get help with – as long as you have the internal support to see it though. 

  • Laura Crest

    Hi Michele,

    Thanks for sharing the sage advice of savvy content marketing experts on this outsourcing question.  It is integral to smart content marketing strategy to ensure cost-effectiveness while producing consistent quality content, and by far much easier said than done!

    • Michele Linn

      So true – it is much easier said than done!

  • tobymurdock

    you should certainly outsource all of the administrative tasks involved in content production: managing assignments, organizing editorial calendars, managing payments to freelancers, measuring performance. 

    that’s best done with software, specifcally kapost’s online newsroom:

    • Michele Linn

      Interesting perspective – thanks for commenting!

  • Amanda Maksymiw

    I second Heidi Cohen’s advice on tapping into employees before looking to outsource to freelancers.  As Heidi mentions, your employees are going to be more educated on your business and customers than any freelancer you can find.  So if you can make content creation or distribution work internally that is a great start. 

    If you must outsource content creation, I agree that writing and design are the two areas that make the most sense. 

  • Peggy

    Nice article Michele. Thanks for compiling these perspectives! I think it is about finding a balance — between building up employees to be voices of the company and giving the editorial support to help keep things moving forward. I agree with the others who have commented — having freelancers/ex-journalists helping to support the content creation process can make the writing part less daunting. Having an outsider’s perspective can also help with fact-checking and speaking to a more layman audience.

  • Anne Patrick

    Great article post here, Michele. And if I had given a chance to answer, I probably chose the “organization of the content”. Grammar can be studied as well as the marketing strategy but how about composing or creating the whole content? The most important part of content marketing is how you will deliver the topic with great sequence. We can’t present an advertising right away or any promotions. A good content is one that is giving an answer and not as to give market only. This is great topic to discuss. Thanks for sharing.

  • Anonymous is nice for all is here with you.!