How To Systemize and Scale Your Content Creation with Writing Marketplaces
The written word is a huge part of any marketing strategy. Your content needs to be engaging, on-brand and right for the type of campaign you’re running.
In order to pull this off, the first step is to have a plan. A carefully crafted strategy will help you determine what types of content are required and why. From there, it’s time to find the right writers for the job.
There are various ways to go:
- An advertising agency
- A freelance writer
- An in-house writer
- A content marketplace (also known as a content mill)
The option you go for will largely depend on your budget and the amount of copy needed. The larger the scale of the project, the better off you’ll be using the services of a content marketplace.
What Is A Content Marketplace?
A content marketplace is typically an online platform where freelance writers offer their services to customers. Writers sign up with the platform and look for suitable projects based on their skill level and expertise. The specifics of posting jobs and selecting them vary from site to site, but the general concept remains the same.
Many businesses use content marketplaces as a fast, cost-effective way to get a lot of copy created for a company blog. It’s not just about blogging though. You can use the writers for any kind of marketing copy. All you have to do is create the right brief.
The Changing Perception
The perception of content mills has been rather negative in many spheres. Some freelance writers hate content mills because they feel that the rates paid for articles are extremely low. Others love content mills because they’re a constant source of work that allows them to maintain a freelance career – or at least supplement their regular day job income.
In terms of those who are paying for writers, the sentiment toward content mills is also greatly divided. Some believe that the quality of the content is poor and, therefore, it isn’t worth using the service. Others are happy with the content they receive and continue to use content mills on an ongoing basis.
The problem is, the notion of good content is quite subjective. Additionally, it’s up to the writers to decide what their work is worth and if they’re willing to accept the lower rates for the quantity of work available.
The good news is, many service providers are working hard to improve their reputations. They’re doing this by ensuring a high standard of work is maintained and that their writers are being paid decent rates. It’s definitely worth your time to investigate the various content mills operating online to see if you can get what you need without exceeding your budget.
How Content Marketplaces Work From The Hiring Side
As the job poster, you have an idea of the content you need – a blog post, news article, email or SMS campaign, PPC landing page, website etc. You then post this idea as a brief on the platform. You can either select specific writers or open the job to the entire board. A writer then tackles the project and sends you the finished copy. Depending on the rules of that particular site, you can accept or reject the copy based on its quality and whether or not the writer followed the brief.
The beauty of using a content marketplace is that you can get writers with experience in just about any topic under the sun. These marketplaces are also a fairly cost-effective way to get a lot of content generated quickly. The trick is to make sure you’ve selected a good service provider. Here are some elements to consider when choosing one:
- Writer ratings – Check that the service allows you to rate writers based on the quality of the content they provide, and make sure that ratings are public.
- Areas of expertise – See if it’s possible to send your job listings to writers who have experience in your particular subject or industry.
- Article pricing – Have a look at the average price per word to make sure it will be worth your while for the amount of content you need.
- Accepting and rejecting – Some content mills allow you to reject copy if it doesn’t follow the brief or is below standard. Check the service provider’s policy on this before putting any money into the system.
Steps To Get The Most Out Of A Content Marketplace
The trick is to go in with a fully thought-out plan and the understanding that the service and the writer will not be doing all of the work for you. It’s up to you to know what you want to write about and why. Only then should you begin to hire writers to create content for you.
These six steps will ensure you get the most value out of the projects you post and that the freelance writers will be able to give you what you’re looking for:
1. Start With A Content Strategy
You can’t get what you need out of a content mill if you don’t know what you need. Whether you do the entire thing yourself, get freelancers to do the writing or hire an award-winning marketing agency, your starting point is always going to be a content marketing strategy.
In your strategy, you need to define who your target audience is. You can be as specific as your industry and company needs you to be. You also need to identify what your brand persona is – this determines how you’ll communicate and how you relate to your target market.
For digital content, the next step is to look at your SEO (search engine optimization). Do some keyword research to build a list of keywords that you want to rank for on the results pages. These should all fit into the bigger picture of the SEO you’ve already created on your website. Your keyword research can also help inform the type of topics your blog should cover.
Now you’re ready to start building a content schedule. This is where you plan the exact topics you’re going to write about over the course of a month. You’ll also need to plan when to post your blogs or articles and how you’re going to share them on social media or via email marketing.
2. Create Your Own Style Guide
When asking other people to write for your company, it’s essential that you offer an example of the style you want them to follow. A good writer can adapt to suit the style of the company they’re writing for and match tone and word use. However, they can only do this if they have access to previous content that you either wrote or liked or have an accurate style guide.
In your style guide, include information pertaining to your ideal target audience. For example, your audience might be 45-year-old men from middle-class backgrounds who love DIY – essentially your ideal customers if you run a hardware store. This information gives the writer an understanding of what voice they need to use, the type of words that are appropriate and the overall tone of the content. It also tells the writer that they can use some industry jargon and terms that DIYers are familiar with but that they should avoid getting too technical or highbrow.
If you don’t have any previous content of your own to use as an example, look around at other companies that you like to find reference samples. This is a big help for a writer who doesn’t know you or your brand yet.
You can also be very specific in your style guide about words that you do or don’t want to use in your content. For example, trendy buzzwords might be something you hate, and you prefer to be more traditional in the way you talk about things. Listing those words and phrases will give the writer even more insight into how to create your copy.
3. Pick The Right Website
Not all content writing service providers are the same, as they all have slight differences and different priorities for their services. As mentioned above, there are a few elements to look for when picking the site you want to sign up with.
You’ll need to take some time to look at the various options available to see which one you prefer. It’s a good idea to try out a few different providers to begin with. This gives you the opportunity to see which service has the right options and can provide the content you require.
4. Be Specific With Your Order
Once you’ve selected your service provider (or providers), it’s time to place your order.
Where most people fall short is in having an idea about what they want their content to convey and how they want it to be said, but not communicating this properly. All of the hard work you put into your content strategy and style guide will pay off here.
The better content marketplaces will allow you to be very specific in your brief to the writers. You can go as far as stipulating word counts for paragraphs, where to place the headings, if bullet points need to be included and even which websites or articles to use as references to back up facts or opinions.
By giving the writer as much information as possible, you’re ensuring that the content you receive will be as close to what you were aiming for as possible. This is quite a bit of work in the beginning, but once you’ve done this a few times, you’ll have a template brief that you can copy and paste with only a few changes for each new article. Putting in the effort in the beginning will go a long way toward making your life easier in the long run and getting you the quality content you require.
5. Build A Team Of Writers
Even with an online article service, you can build up an informal team of writers. You’ll have access to their usernames, and you’ll be able to slowly start to build up a list of writers you trust to give you the content you want. You’ll also be able to train them to provide content in the style that you prefer by giving them feedback and regular work through the platform.
Most content platforms allow you to send work to specific writers rather than opening the job to the entire board. When you start out, it’s a good idea to keep things open or to only allow writers with higher ratings to access your order (if that’s available) so that you can find plenty of good writers. Once you have a good group, you can send the work to one specific writer or to everyone on your preferred writing team.
6. Be Ready To Edit
Writers will very rarely get everything 100% right for you. Even if you’re paying top dollar, they’re at the top of their field and you meet with them one-on-one to discuss the work, there will likely be some things you’ll want to change. This is because writing is subjective.
It’s important to remember that the people working for a content mill may not be the most experienced writers and often prioritize quantity over quality. This means that, especially in the early days, you’ll likely have to do quite a bit of editing on the copy before it’s ready to publish.
This is actually a good thing. Look at it as a chance to learn what works for you and use the editing process to build and expand your style guide – you’ll get a better understanding of the writing process and how to explain what you’re looking for. As your confidence in content creation for marketing grows, so too will your ability to get the ideal end result with a quicker turnaround time.
Once you’ve refined your process and followed these six steps, you’ll find that scaling up systemic content production using a mill is simple. Initially, you’ll have to do the legwork to achieve the desired results, but once your systems are set up, you’ll be able to increase volume effectively by strategically outsourcing your content needs.
Article writing services can offer your business a major advantage. If you manage your expectations and put in a bit of effort upfront, you can get a lot out of these services at a very reasonable cost.