It’s hard to forget the first time your sales team brings in a Spanish psychic network opportunity. In my previous life in crowdsourced call centers, sourcing hundreds of Spanish-speaking call center agents from across the United States was already a significant challenge, but — through the power of the crowd — we had built a flexible Spanish-speaking team. As it turned out, that wasn’t even our clients’ primary concern:
“We want Spanish speakers who are actual psychics,” they said.
Besides the classic operational question of how does one vet candidates for true psychic powers, this question shouldn’t have been necessary anyway. We were only supposed to handle the sales calls, so the qualifications of the position included the combination of great sales rapport and language skills.
The belief that no one else could capture the nature of what you do is a major barrier for most outsourcing services. At the crowdsourced call center I referenced above, our clients included pharmaceutical, insurance and financial companies, among others. Each overcame the initial hesitation to sharing their customers with us, but we found excellent solutions to support each one (including the Spanish-speaking psychic network).
The key to successfully transferring any core (and time-consuming) internal function to any external partner is figuring out which pieces can and should be handled internally so the company can outsource the rest and invest more on its core competencies.
With outsourced writing, the challenge is particularly pronounced. It’s especially important to capture voice and tone in addition to accuracy about your business, and getting this transition right is a challenge we love here at Verblio (formerly BlogMutt). Writing is a creative process and it requires a joint effort between writers and clients to make it work. When that happens, clients gain a unique tool that gives them a competitive advantage in the market.
That all sounds good, but…
What if my content can’t be written by anyone else but me?
This is indeed the key question. Can another company ever really get you or know your subject matter expertise as much as you do? Probably not. But we can do it pretty well, armed with the right platform and the right strategies.
It would be hard to share just how many times over the years I’ve heard people express the concern that no one else could ever understand what they do enough for them to outsource to someone else to help. We all know this story from the personal sense, of people whose jobs have grown so large that they have to remove some responsibilities just to survive. But this also applies to companies as a whole.
I’ve heard the question “how could you ever write for me?” from companies who work in industries ranging from pretty technical spaces like cryptocurrency, denture technology, building materials, composite materials, and obscure legal decisions—which do require some expertise in addition to solid writing—to real estate apartments, pet care, fitness, and personal growth categories, which require client guidance, but are fairly approachable topics for most writers.
And, I get it. Who can tell your story like you can? You might have lived this business since it was born. You might have skipped months of sleep at a time to make it work. Or you might just care deeply about your business and customers, and what could be more personal than writing your own story?
So, how can you make sure you take advantage of an outsourced freelance writer platform, even if you have rare subject matter or want to keep ownership of your tone?
The Top 2 Client Strategies for Outsourcing Writing In a Way that Works for You
1. The Obscure Subject Matter Approach (aka target 80% of your topics)
While I would love to say that Verblio can handle every single topic thrown our way, there are subjects that are just too insider that require you or a top expert to handle it. Past examples of this “too insider” or those we just can’t write for are a topic from a recent client on “The Annexes of UN ECE Regulation 10” or uses for industrial thread. It happens, though you might be pleasantly surprised by the expertise we have in our marketplace of writers. Here’s a recent post about how we can use our model to tackle hard-to-cover, super-niche topics.
That said, sometimes a topic is simply not right to outsource—if it’s critical that it be your work, or just too technical to hand off to someone else. Our solution to this situation is that outsourcing doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing endeavor. Keep the critical pieces in-house and gain the benefits of outsourcing for the other 80% of your content creation efforts.
One of our agency clients, Mark Mitchell, is a solid example that encapsulates the division of labor to outsourcing well. He specializes in digital marketing strategy for construction and building materials clients, and as such, his clients’ topics are often niche and technical. He says that, for example, when he’s working to market a company that produces a specific material used for composite patios, he will have that company’s specialist write the main, longer-form “pillar” piece. But every accompanying customer engagement and outreach piece to support that piece, like “5 Uses for Your Patio in Winter” or “How to Find the Right Contractor for Your New Patio” will be created by Verblio writers.
2. The Entrepreneur’s Approach (aka target saving 80% of your time)
This approach is particularly suited to entrepreneurs and all of those leaders who are both obsessive about their company’s messaging, and have almost no time to write anything. (Also known as every content manager, ever.) That is, let us get your post 80% there, and you finish the last 20% with your unique voice and expertise.
Verblio client Dave Milliken wrestled with all of these questions. Dave started his company Greetly not just out of his basement, but inside a closet inside of his basement. Greetly provides an innovative digital receptionist service, and Dave has been building and growing this business for several years. He has also started and stopped his subscription with Verblio several times during those years. This happens more than you might expect, as our best clients are ones who have both tried writing themselves and working with direct freelancers multiple times.
The writing from [Verblio] is solid, but I just kept feeling that as a entrepreneur, all writing about my company should be from my voice. I would take the posts from my preferred writers and edit them until it sounded like me. So, while my writers got me 75-80% there, I was still putting good effort into my writing. So I cancelled and decided I would write the whole post myself. And you know what happened? I didn’t write anything at all. And our organic traffic decreased. I run a lot of the company and writing never made my top 10 list for any given day. I realized that for me, getting writing that is 80% what I want to send out is actually a huge help. And that without it, I won’t be delivering the content about my company that is critical to Greetly’s success.
After four months of consistent blogging through Verblio, Greetly has seen its organic traffic consistently increase by over 200% per month.
So it’s that easy?
Well, I wish I could say it was, but outsourcing a core component of what you do isn’t and shouldn’t be easy. At Verblio, we’ve worked hard to create a platform solution that quickly gets easier as you move forward, but outsourcing writing is a continual journey of co-creation. I’ll write more about my thoughts on co-creation for writing in my next post.
Until then, if you find yourself thinking, “I don’t believe an outside writer could ever capture what we do,” please remember the Spanish-speaking psychics and that modern writing platforms were created to solve just that challenge while tapping an increasing workforce of a sharing economy—just like all the great outsourcing innovators who came before us.
Feel free to contact me at ceo[at]verblio.com or sales[at]verblio.com to talk through our solution and how outsourcing could go to work for you.