In-house vs Freelance Writer: Which Is Best for Effective Content Marketing?
So you decided. Your business needs content marketing. But where do you get all that content – the fuel for inbound marketing? There are two options: hire a writer in-house or outsource content to freelance writers.
If you are like most businesses, you don’t have time to write content for your website and manage content writers. You prefer working with freelancers. Finding one isn’t that hard, is it? Not at all. But will it be the right decision for you?
At Kaiiax, we’ve worked with both freelance writers and managed our clients’ in-house teams. Here are a few thoughts on the matter.
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Quality: Which one is more capable of writing content that delivers results?
This might not be the first question that comes to your mind as you’re thinking about who you need to hire – a freelance writer or an in-house writer – especially if you are just starting out in content marketing. But without high-quality content produced consistently, there is no point in content marketing. It won’t bring any results.
You don’t just need content to stoke up the content bank on your website. You need content to spread the knowledge about your brand, build relationships with your target audience, and generate leads for your business. A writer who can create content that delivers these results is the one you need to be looking for.
From our experience at Kaiiax, freelance writers are more focused on quantity rather than quality. They work for different clients and are more willing to take on projects that don’t require a lot of thinking and research. They prefer speed to quality. This means their content will most likely just skim the surface of a point as opposed to really getting into the details.
Freelance writers often don’t have the experience in your industry, and even if they do, they don’t spend nearly enough time to understand your business and your audience. What’s more, they aren’t ready to discuss changes and edits or strategize the content message.
Not all freelance writers are like that of course. Good writers will take the time to interview you and your team to get to know your business, your message and tailor it to the right customer. But these are rare, and their rates are usually higher than expected.
In-house writers are always available. They have the knowledge of your business, your industry, and your customers. They are willing to work on improvements. And they are more motivated to help you succeed.
With in-house writers, you have a better chance to get high-quality content that brings marketing leads. But only if you’re willing to spend time to train and manage these employees.
Effort: Which one is easier to manage?
Both freelancers and in-house writers require a certain level of management. Managing in-house writers will definitely require more effort from your side than managing freelancers. They are your employees, and you need to invest in their development.
You need to help your in-house writers dive into your business and understand your market. You need to build a consistent daily workflow. You need to make them part of your big marketing decisions. And you need to create a work culture that allows your writers to feel a sense of ownership on your project.
Do you have content operations? You need a content workflow, guidelines, and standards in place for your writers to follow. Do you have buyer personas, customer journeys, an SEO strategy? Your writers have to know about all of that to write content that performs well on search and guides the readers down the marketing funnel. Are you ready to spend your time running daily standups, retrospectives, content planning meetings? You have to be involved in the process. You can’t win unless you play.
When you are up to your ears in your business responsibilities, the last thing you want to do is hire and train another employee. It’s understandable. We’ve been there too. But what choice do you have? Why play the game if you don’t swing for the fence? Content marketing is hard but it’s worth it if you’re willing to pass through the struggle. Kaiiax can make this struggle a lot easier. We help companies hire the right people, develop content strategies, do SEO, manage content operations and generate leads using content marketing. Check out our services to learn more about what we do.
Managing in-house writers doesn’t seem like a breeze. But with time it gets much easier. Your writers get more autonomous, they can make decisions on their own and you can delegate some of your work to them.
What about freelance writers? What does it look like to manage them?
All you have to do is send a short brief of what you need to a freelance writer and get a perfect draft delivered….in the ideal world. But we don’t live in the ideal world. Most freelance writers won’t even work with you unless you provide them with a detailed outline, SEO keywords, internal links, content references, and other information. Preparing this requires a lot of time and effort. Here is what freelance writer management includes:
- Preparing a content brief with SEO keywords and an outline for the writer to follow
- Editing the article every time the writer has sent you a draft (drafting and editing often form a loop as the draft moves back and forth between you and the writer)
- Formatting the final article for publication including adding internal and external links, images, and CTA’s
- Publishing the article on your website
- Repeating the entire process over at least 8-10 times a month
You should have somebody in your company with an understanding of SEO to manage all of this. Ideally, it should be an SEO expert who can also do content editing and provide feedback to freelance writers. Good luck finding one!
Hiring: Which one is faster to hire?
Quick answer: none. Hiring both is a long and tedious process.
Don’t get me wrong, freelance writers are easy to find. You can look for them on sites like Upwork, job sites in your area, and anywhere else on the internet. But it takes a pretty long time to find a writer you can actually work with.
As we’ve already mentioned, it’s hard to find a freelance writer who can create thoughtful and engaging content. Plus, many freelancers have issues with work ethics. We’ve come across writers who would disappear without a trace in the middle of the project, who would copy somebody else’s work and present it as their own, who are unable to meet a project deadline, who would decline all the edits trying to prove that their obvious grammar mistakes aren’t mistakes at all… don’t even get me started. It’s really hard to find a reliable freelance writer.
In-house writers are also hard to hire. You need someone who can strengthen your marketing team and complement it; someone who can accept criticism; someone who can think differently and bring novelty to any topic; someone who has creative energy, boundless curiosity, and a desire to grow professionally. These qualities are rare.
Generally, you should expect to spend up to three months looking for a content writer, both freelance and in-house.
Cost: Which one is cheaper to hire?
Hiring a freelance writer is cheaper in the short run. It might be a better option if you need content “here and now,” and are not looking to publish content consistently.
The cost of hiring an employee is higher: you need to pay salary and overhead costs, cover training expenses, and the process itself looks like a huge pain.
If you want to save some money on content writing, you might feel eager to work with freelancers. But will you be just as enthusiastic a year later when all your marketing spend is wasted?
It might cost more to hire a writer in-house, but with this option, you have a better chance to get some return on your investment. Of course, if you’re willing to work hard.
We recommend hiring in-house writers but also have a couple of go-to freelancers to scale content creation and fill the gap on your team in case your in-house writers get sick, can’t handle the workload, or leave.
Here is a short comparison of freelance writers with in-house writers to recap:
|Criteria||Freelance writer||In-house writer|