Outsource Content Marketing: A Guide for SaaS Companies

15 min
CONTENTS

What is Outsourcing in Content Marketing?

Why Outsource Content Marketing?

Benefits of Outsourcing Content Marketing

Your Options When It Comes to Content Marketing

How to Outsource Content Marketing?

Now Over to You

HUMAN CRAFTED
human-crafted-eye
This piece of content is the work of a human mind.

Over the past several years, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, the demand for content marketing outsourcing services has been growing exponentially.

And, as our 2023 State of Content Marketing Survey shows, this trend will live on.

But does it mean you should also jump on board?

We’ve prepared this comprehensive guide to answer this question.

Let’s talk all about content marketing outsourcing.

What is Outsourcing in Content Marketing?

Content marketing outsourcing is the process of delegating content marketing tasks to a third party (e.g., a freelancer or an agency).

Here’s what we mean by it.

Say you want to increase content velocity but have no resources for an in-house hire.

So, your further options are either to search for a freelancer, get in touch with an agency, or browse online marketplaces.

Either way, you’ll be outsourcing this task to someone outside your company.

Also, while we’re at it, outsourcing content marketing is not just about content creation—these notions often get confused.

Content creation is only one of the tasks you can outsource, as you can see on this graph.

 

That’s quite a list.

But why do companies outsource in the first place?

What profit do content marketing team leads see in it?

We’ve asked a few; let’s discuss their responses.

Why Outsource Content Marketing?

According to our latest State of Content Marketing survey with Superpath, 42 percent (289) of respondents saw an increase in their outsourcing budgets in 2023.

Here’s how Eric Doty, content lead at Dock, explains these results.

Teams want to reduce headcount because it’s way less flexible than outsourcing… And, outside of the flexibility, it allows us to hire a specialist for each channel.

We can boil down Eric’s quote to this.

The first reason companies outsource content marketing is to get work done by an outside professional right away instead of spending time training a new in-house employee.

Another reason is that outsourcing content marketing tasks helps in-house teams manage the workload and scale their efforts.

Here’s what Christina Heiser, content director at Saatva, shared with us.

Due to the volume of articles we publish, the amount of research our articles require to write them, and the fact that our internal content team is small (there are two of us who work on the blog full-time) I've always sought the help of freelance writers to ensure I'm able to meet these content goals effortlessly. I plan on continuing to outsource articles to freelance writers in 2024 so I can continue to publish new content at a steady pace.

Michal Leszczynski, head of content marketing & partnerships at GetResponse, voiced the same opinion.

(Hiring freelancers) helped us scale our content, maintain the quality of work, and learn new approaches, while avoiding the costs of hiring and managing a new in-house writer. This approach seems to work very well for us, and we’re planning to continue down this path in the future. Potentially, we may use AI more often to write or update existing content, but external writers will certainly be critical for us, especially where personal experience and authority will be needed.

These all look like sound reasons to outsource content marketing.

Let’s take a look at some other motives/advantages of getting outside help.

Benefits of Outsourcing Content Marketing

So, what do you get from outsourcing?

The experts we interviewed shared some perks.

However, there’s so much more you can reap here.

Let’s take a look.

Benefit #1: Save on resources

The first benefit on our list is in sync with Eric Doty’s quote.

Outsourcing helps make your content marketing processes leaner.

Of course, lean can mean a lot of things:

  • A smarter approach to team management.
  • A more effective budget allocation.
  • A more efficient use of your team’s time.

However you put it, it comes down to a better use of your resources.

Let’s discuss an example concerning financial resources, which are most likely the biggest priority for content marketing team leads.

Say you need another content writer to publish more content.

How much would hiring an in-house professional cost you?

If your business is in the USA, depending on the state, you will have to pay social security, Medicare, federal and state unemployment, and sometimes even local taxes, which can be as low as 14 percent.

So, if your employee earns $4,000 a month, you’ll have to pay $560 every month.

Apart from that, the average cost of hire is $4,700, which can be quite a toll if your budget is limited.

So, in this case, things are looking up for onboarding.

The next benefit is related to this one; let’s discuss it.

Benefit #2: Grow your team faster

Onboarding wins another vote for helping business owners save time growing their content marketing teams.

Let’s compare.

How much time is usually needed to hire an employee?

In the USA, on average, onboarding a new team member takes 44 weeks.

This timespan may seem too long.

However, if you consider the actual onboarding process for a content marketing-related position, it makes sense.

Here’s what the onboarding process for an in-house content writer looks like.

 

Many activities in the above onboarding process remain in the loop for several months until the new hire feels confident in their new role.

With outsourcing, you don’t need as many steps, save but a few, such as introducing a contractor to company guidelines, explaining goals and objectives, and discussing brand style and voice.

Let’s take a look at the next benefit.

Benefit #3: Reduce campaign timelines

Hiring outside help can significantly reduce the average duration of a content marketing campaign.

Let’s say you set a campaign to drive blog traffic, improve rankings, and reach 10,000 monthly visits.

One of the objectives you’ll have to set is to increase content velocity, say, from eight blog pieces per month to 15.

If you have only two or three writers on your team, they will have to work their fingers to the bone to reach that objective.

Not to mention that they are also responsible for optimizing and updating existing content.

Outsourcing content writing solves this problem.

You can hire another two or three writers, which will help you both publish more great content and speed up the campaign.

Many companies already operate like this.

According to a Semrush report, 43.95 percent of brands outsource between one and five content pieces per month and 23 percent six to ten pieces.

And there’s nothing bad about it.

On the contrary, it’s a way to optimize your team’s efficiency.

Let’s speak about this benefit more.

Benefit #4: Decrease your team’s workload

A content marketer’s job is stressful.

Our 2023 State of Content Marketing Survey showed moderate-to-high stress levels for most respondents.

What does it mean?

Even though many companies (confirmed by 215 of our survey participants) experienced budget cuts this year, the demand for achieving better results still grew (and remains a concern for most survey respondents).

Thus, companies have to be smart with their money.

Outsourcing to freelance professionals is one of the ways content marketers balance out the “low resources : high results” ratio.

Speaking about hiring seasoned outside contractors, it can lead to another benefit of outsourcing.

Let’s talk about that.

Benefit #5: Access the top talent pool

Probably the best part about outsourcing is the opportunity to find a contractor with the expertise fit for projects.

And it won’t be hard to find one.

All you have to do is go to an online marketplace (e.g., Upwork), set filters to customize results, and dive into the pool of professionals available for work.

Image Source: Upwork

You can find the following information on a contractor’s profile:

  • Hourly rate
  • Areas of expertise
  • Skills
  • Education
  • Additional training
  • Work history
  • Portfolio
  • Client testimonials
  • Contact details

So, you already have all the information about a contractor before hiring them, and their portfolio serves as proof of their competence.

The same goes for agencies—they always vet the expertise of their contractors and workers before hiring them, guaranteeing a job well done.

There’s another perk of tapping into the pool of freelance talents.

Benefit #6: Branch out your content marketing strategy

Hiring someone with an outside perspective can help diversify your approach to content marketing.

How?

Faruk Aydin, head of growth at iAge Technologies, put it beautifully in his quote for the Semrush report mentioned earlier.

Professional copywriters have their point of view and how they see the market, and they see more from a client’s side than us. Because we have our eyes closed sometimes, we only think that our product is the best, our solutions are at the top. Well, not really. Copywriters, especially when you work with some freelancers, can tell you something different.

So, even though it’s true that no one knows a product better than a person inside the company, someone who’s dealt with similar products and projects before can help uncover new approaches that a content strategy needs when it hits stagnation.

Let’s move on to the last advantage.

Benefit #7: Reveal new growth opportunities

We’ve already figured that outsourcing can help you scale your content marketing operations while sticking to your budget limits.

But that’s not all you can get from it.

While you have professional writers, designers, and content strategists acing your projects, you can focus on finding new growth opportunities.

For instance, delegating can free up time to devise new strategies, tap into new promotional channels, or work on product development.

The success of your content marketing strategy depends on its scalability potential, and outsourcing can be a driving force behind it.

With the benefits clear, let’s discuss how to start outsourcing content marketing.

Your Options When It Comes to Content Marketing

If you’re considering outsourcing content marketing, you have the following options:

  • Form an in-house team.
  • Hire an agency.
  • Delegate tasks to freelancers.

Let’s discuss all three choices in detail.

Option #1: Build an in-house team

An in-house team offers security in terms of content marketing operations.

Many companies understand that and have already started moving toward building internal marketing departments.

This fact is reflected in the available data.

For instance, a study in Search Engine Journal from 2019 states that 91% of companies have already transferred some of their digital marketing activities to in-house teams.

And here we have the share of B2B marketing companies with dedicated marketing teams (data from 2020).

Image Source: Statista

But don’t jump on the bandwagon just yet. Let us help you make an informed decision.

First, let’s take a look at the pros and cons of building an in-house team.

 

 

There’s a very convincing factor you should consider here—your budget that will have to cover the following expenses.

1. Personnel

As mentioned earlier, hiring one in-house marketing team member can be quite expensive.

Here’s a more in-depth overview of how much hiring one content writer will cost you (data for the USA).

 

So, if you need four content creators, it will cost you $383,760 (we’ve taken the average annual salary and tax amounts, so the final cost may be higher).

In addition to the writer, you will also need to fill the following roles to form a content marketing team (with average yearly salaries according to glassdoor.com):

  • Marketing manager—$96,830
  • Content strategist—$75,183
  • Email marketing specialist—$63,439
  • SEO manager—$86,258
  • Marketing data analyst—$73,049
  • Social media manager—$59,938
  • Graphic designer—$59,529

Finally, you’ll also need to supply them with tools and resources.

2. Technology stack

Depending on your content strategy, your content marketing toolkit can include fewer or more solutions.

Here’s the standard pack of essentials you’ll need for daily operations.

 

Note
The prices above are accurate as of December 2023.

3. Additional training

As mentioned earlier, your in-house employees will require regular training, especially in the very beginning.

Outside of online courses and workshops, your team will benefit from visiting content marketing events.

Just to give you an idea, here are the participation costs for the top digital marketing events in 2024.

  • Generative AI for Marketing Summit—£999 (or $1254.88).
  • Digital Marketing Europe—€275 (or $301.76).
  • MozCon—$899 (for the Extremely Early Bird access).
  • WebSummit—€950 (or $1,023.50).

So what would be the entire cost of hiring a team member, giving them access to the above tools with a monthly subscription, and sending them to all four events?

$119,024 for one year.

That’s quite a commitment.

If you cannot keep up with it right now, you could try to outsource to an agency, but this option doesn’t always mean cheaper prices.

Option #2: Hire an agency

We started our section about in-house teams with the fact that they ensure more security.

You might have to sacrifice that if you decide to hire an agency.

However, it doesn’t mean that the cons outweigh the pros in this case.

 

Another downside worth mentioning is content limitations based on content formats.

For instance, most agencies seem to focus more on producing SEO content, which is okay but hardly brings any long-term tangible results.

That’s why we chose to concentrate on original content—the results it brings are more sustainable.

Now, let’s compare hiring an agency against building an in-house team.

 

So, there’s no definitive answer as to whether an agency is better or not.

Your final decision will depend on your priorities and budget.
Speaking about budget, how much does an agency cost?

By taking the prices of some of the most prominent agencies out there (let’s call them agencies A, B, and C), we can get an idea of the price ranges you should expect.

  • Agency A: Prices range between $5,999 and $14,999 a month.
  • Agency B: Prices range between $1,225 and $5,300 a month.
  • Agency C: Prices range between $599 and $5,999 a month.

You can learn about factors impacting the prices for SEO and link-building agencies on our blog.

Another side note here—you can hire several specialized agencies to cover content marketing tasks.

However, as an agency, we can deliver better results if we have the leading role. This way, we are sure there are no communication issues between us, our client, and other contractors.

Back to the prices.

So, how much would a cooperation with an agency cost per year?

So collaborations with agencies may start from $7,188 a year (if we pick the lowest price mentioned above) which is significantly lower than hiring an employee.

However, if we take the highest price, we’ll end at almost $180k a year, which is 47 percent more than hiring an in-house employee.

Besides, a cheap price for an agency’s services doesn’t always (read: “in most cases”) guarantee good results.

But what should you do if your budget doesn’t run to even the cheapest agency?

Cooperation with a freelancer might be an option.

Option #3: Work with freelancers

Working with freelancers continues to be a trend.

Like with agencies, content marketing teams hire freelancers as a part of a so-called hybrid model—when part of the activities is outsourced while most of the content marketing strategy is maintained in-house.

You can also outsource most content marketing efforts to freelancers, but before you do so, consider the pros and cons of this decision.

 

Now, let’s compare working with freelancers against an agency and an in-house team.

 

There’s another downside.

The content production process a freelancer uses to complete the task is less involved and may not ensure the best result.

To compare, take a look at the typical content creation process of a freelance contractor.

 

And now, match it up to an agency’s content development process (we used ours as an example).

 

As you can see, an agency can ensure a smoother content creation process.

However, it doesn’t mean you can’t build such a workflow yourself using help from freelancers.

So, how much would a freelancer cost you?

Here’s an hourly wage breakdown for essential content marketing roles.

  • Marketing manager—$24–$60
  • Content strategist—$25
  • Email marketing specialist—$15–$40
  • SEO manager—$15–$35
  • Marketing data analyst—$20–$50
  • Social media manager—$14–$35
  • Graphic designer—$25
Note
Data is based on the search results from Upwork.

How much would it cost you a year?

The cost will depend on the workload.

If we consider averages, the median annual salary of a freelance content writer is $57,660.

Thus, a freelance writer costs 45.6 percent more than an agency, if we choose the average of the lowest agency price band we mentioned earlier.

Yet, working with a freelancer costs 40 percent less than an in-house team member (i.e., $95,940).

How to Outsource Content Marketing?

The biggest concern is maintaining quality when outsourcing to outside contractors.

That’s why your approach to this task should be responsible and calculated. There’s a lot at stake.

To help you start off on the right foot, we devised this process with ten steps, ensuring that you successfully outsource content creation tasks.

Step #1: Decide if you need outsourcing

Outsourcing is not for every business and is certainly not a quick fix.

Here are some common instances when you should and should not outsource content marketing.

 

Many of these instances are supported by data.

Here are the results we collected from Semrush’s report mentioned earlier.

 

Of course, to be sure that outsourcing is the right solution, you need to evaluate your content needs and goals before moving forward.

Let’s talk more about that.

Step #2: Understand your goals and needs

What do you want to achieve with a project?

Take some time to evaluate your current marketing strategy and pinpoint weaknesses and areas of improvement.

Doing so will help you come up with a way to fix the chink in your strategy’s armor.

Of course, each content marketing campaign should have its goal and objectives.

Do you want it to:

  • Build brand awareness?
  • Generate new leads?
  • Boost revenue?
  • Improve customer engagement?
  • Increase website traffic?
  • Foster brand loyalty?
  • Get new email subscribers and nurture them?
  • Facilitate brand authority?

Regardless of how many goals and needs you have, they should be clear-cut.

After all, understanding them is not just for your own benefit.

The contractors you outsource campaign activities to should also be given a clear indication of what the final result of their work should achieve.

So, communicating your goals and needs clearly on both sides increases the success of your cooperation with the contractor.

The next step is no less important.

Step #3: Assess your budget

As mentioned, outsourcing is a proven way to reduce operational costs.

However, you should remain rational here—you won’t find a top-notch freelance professional or an agency at a cheap price.

A freelancer’s or agency’s rate can depend on the following factors:

  • Experience
  • Expertise
  • Complexity and volume of the task
  • Complexity of the subject matter
  • Availability of essential resources
  • Deadlines and turnaround time

So, if you need a pro content writer to complete a 3,500-word blog article in a week, their final paycheck will be considerably higher.

Another factor at play is the type of content/task you want to outsource.

For instance, producing video content will cost you more than writing two or three pieces of content.

You should also pay attention to the contractor’s pricing model.

  • Hourly: freelancers reportedly charge around $28 an hour for skilled services.
  • Per 100 words (for content writers): this rate can vary depending on the contractor’s expertise (from $3 to $30+ an hour based on how English-speaking writers charge on Upwork).
  • Per project: some freelancers charge for deliverables regardless of how long it takes to complete the work.
  • Monthly retainer: this pricing model implies that you have long-term cooperation with a contractor and pay them monthly depending on work volume.

There’s another pricing approach based on the outcome.

We follow this model at Minuttia since we find outcomes a more tangible benchmark than, say, charging per word.

Here’s what George Chasiotis says about it.

Image Source: LinkedIn

Regardless of what pricing model the freelancer uses, there’s still a chance of additional hidden costs.

 

So, what conclusion can we draw here?

Always discuss hidden costs and other stipulations with a contractor before hiring them. Otherwise, you’re risking busting your budget.

Okay, let’s say you have the outsourcing budget figured out.

The next step is to choose what to delegate.

Step #4: Decide what you want to outsource

If you’ve stayed with us so far, you know when you should or should not outsource.

Besides, you know that your choice of activities for outsourcing will depend on your needs and goals, which we discussed in Step #2 of this guide.

But on a more general note, for which jobs do content marketers usually hire outside help?

According to Statista, graphic design, video design/animation, and copywriting led the race in 2022.

Image Source: Statista

And here’s a more specific list of tasks you can delegate to contractors:

  • Your content marketing plan
  • Video production
  • Video editing (e.g., for video podcasts)
  • Short-form articles
  • Long-form blog posts
  • Social media posts
  • Case studies
  • Gated content
  • Infographics
  • White papers
  • Reports
  • Data visualizations
  • Search engine optimization
  • Landing pages
  • Visual content

We also recommend keeping up with content marketing trends to understand what content types are performing the best in your industry.

This way, you can adjust your strategy on the go and have contractors produce content that will keep your online presence up to date.

For instance, these are the top-performing content types this year, according to Semrush’s 2023 State of Content Marketing Survey.

Image Source: Semrush

Say you’ve chosen the activities for outsourcing.

What’s next?

You’ll have to fix your expectations and requirements for the deliverables on paper.

Step #5: Prepare a company style guide

When outsourcing, you want the final result to look exactly how you expected.

To maximize the chances of that, you will need a highly detailed company style guide.

What is it?

A company style guide is a document that includes information on your company’s requirements for writing, formatting, and editing.

For example, here’s what a writing style checklist should include.

 

These are basic requirements for a writing style guide. You can change them to whatever you see fit.

However, such a guide is not the only way to ensure that you’ll get high-quality content in return.

Here’s what George Chasiotis suggests adding to the list of documents outside editorial guidelines.

  • Brand guidelines help contractors understand your brand voice.
  • Comparative guidelines inform contractors involved in content writing on how to talk about your competitors.
  • Legal guidelines state which legal claims to avoid to stay out of legal trouble.
  • Pain Point x Use Case x JTBD x Feature Matrix to connect features to pain points, use cases, and JTBDs at scale.
  • Transcriptions of product-expert interviews to record and save a unique perspective of people specializing in their company’s products.
  • Sales call transcriptions can help contractors understand a customer’s perspective.
  • Product screenshot library helps integrate information about a product in a content piece more efficiently.
  • Quotes library shares quotes from industry leaders and influencers, which a content writer can include in a content piece for more authority.
  • Post templates allow contractors to create content of a certain format faster.
  • Customer examples can be easily integrated into a content piece to make it more informative.
  • Graphic templates for designers to create visuals at scale.
  • A demo account helps writers include product demonstrations in content pieces.
  • Feedback archive allows content contributors to enrich a content piece with social proof.

Many of these documents are of the utmost importance in SaaS content marketing if you outsource product-related content.

In addition to these guidelines, you will also need metrics that measure the success of the work done by freelancers.

Let’s talk about them.

Step #6: Choose metrics to measure success

You won’t need success metrics for every task you outsource.

For example, if you hire a freelance designer to craft some graphs for a blog post, the only KPI is whether they’ve done the job according to your guidelines.

However, things might get more involved when it comes to content writing tasks.

Depending on the job to be done, you will need some of the following metrics to evaluate the result.

  • Page views
  • Time on page
  • Bounce rate
  • Likes, shares, reactions
  • Click-through rate
  • Conversion rate
  • Website/page traffic
  • Position in SERPs
  • Generated backlinks

For instance, if you’re hiring a freelance social media manager, based on the nature of their work, its success can be measured with engagement metrics and, in some cases, click-through and conversion rates.

So, take some time to analyze your goals and means to measure them before outsourcing.

Alright, you have your essentials ready.

Now, it’s time to figure out how to ensure that you hire the right contractor.

Step #7: Set up a hiring and review process

Here’s the catch with outsourcing.

You have an entire talent pool in front of you, but not every professional in it will suit your needs.

Besides, for some projects, you might have to look at dozens, if not hundreds, of freelancers.

So, you definitely need a screening process to filter those who don’t match.

Many companies start with a job description, which is a smart idea—it increases the chances of attracting the right candidates.

Here’s a good example of a job description for a freelance graphic designer position posted by LLH on LinkedIn.

 

Once you post your job description, it’s time to set up the screening process, which will help you review and select the top candidates for the task.

During the screening process, you’ll need to check the following criteria:

  • Portfolio provides an overview of the candidate’s previous work experience and helps determine their eligibility for your project.
  • References from previous clients help you understand whether the candidate’s work ethic and values align with yours.
  • Skill tests allow for an objective assessment of the candidate’s abilities.
  • Interviews are an opportunity to assess their communication skill set.

The cherry on top of it all should be a trial task—the last factor assuring the candidate is the right fit.

Note
Every trial task should be paid.

No self-respecting freelancer will agree to complete a trial task for free. Besides, asking for free work puts your company in a bad light.

A professional way to ask for a paid task would be to create a contract for one project and set the payment. This way, both sides have some guarantees.

To sum up, here is how your screening and review process should look…

 

With this clear, let’s move on to the next step.

Step #8: Fine-tune communication channels

Poor communication can be responsible for poor end results.

So, organizing communication channels from the start can help eliminate this risk.

Seems like an easy task?

It may be, but here’s the caveat—your preferred mode of communication may not be suitable for the contractor.

So, while assessing the candidate, discuss what communication channels will ensure easy, uninterrupted, and quick interactions.

We should also mention access to other resources.

For instance, adding a freelance content writer to your content calendar helps them understand the scope of work and track deadlines.

The same goes for all resources—if they can make communication easier, give contractors access to them.

After all, it’s better to establish contact opportunities from the start than fix problems later.

During the assessment, a candidate can ask about the workflow.

So, you should have that in place, too.

Step #9: Establish a workflow

You should have a workflow for every contractor, to whom you give content marketing assignments.

A workflow should include a clear set of steps leading a project from its beginning to the end.

Besides, it’s another factor ensuring the high quality of the final result.

What would an effective workflow look like?

Here’s an example for content writing tasks.

 

Having such a workflow in place ensures that the contractor will move from one stage to another very quickly.

Besides, if you spot a hold-up at any of the stages, you’ll be able to eliminate it in no time.

Alright, you finally have all the vital processes in place.

Now, it’s time to find a professional for your project.

Step #10: Find a contractor

You have two options when outsourcing content marketing.

You can either hire freelancers or delegate work to an agency.

Before you go, let us remind you of the key characteristics you should look for in a contractor, no matter if it’s an agency or a freelancer.

  • Industry and niche expertise. If we’re talking about SaaS content marketing outsourcing, you want someone who’s an expert in this field and knows it from the inside out—they can contribute unique insights.
  • Feedback from previous clients. This way, you minimize the risk of hiring an incompetent person.
  • Their personality. Assessing the candidate’s values, motivation, and work ethic ensures that you always remain on the same page.
  • Knowledge of your target audience. This factor is similar to the first one—check if the candidate’s previous work experience and expertise can cater to the needs of your target audience.

With this clear, let’s wrap things up.

Now Over to You

Here you have it.

The full process of outsourcing content marketing, plus three ways to handle it—build an in-house team, hire an agency, or work with freelancers.

Which one should you go for?

There is no concrete answer.

Above all, you should consider available resources (time, money), your needs, goals, and priorities.

Having a profound understanding of these factors will help you make a well-informed decision.

Gravitating toward choosing a content marketing agency?

We can help you get started.

Let’s talk!

HUMAN CRAFTED
This piece of content is the work of a human mind.

Related Content

Adaptive Content Marketing Newsletter

Join our biweekly newsletter and learn how to adapt to industry changes, redefine your content marketing playbook, and drive sustainable growth.