Many say creating content is hard – ever wondered why?
It’s because most people don’t fully understand how much talent is required throughout the process.
They also don’t know all about different ways of content creation.For your reference, I’ve put together an overview of the five ways to create content, each with its respective advantages and disadvantages.
1) Building an in-house team (long-term commitment)
If your company plans to make an at least 2- to 3-year commitment, building your own in-house team is highly recommended. You can start with a 3- to 4-person team (with the assumption that the team can execute both online and offline work).
You’ll need a Creative Director, Writer, Designer and someone who can monitor and analyze performance. Later, you can put in additional resources, such as a Video Editor or Motion Graphics Specialist.
Here are the key points to consider if you decide to build an in-house team:
- Being able to hire the people you want.
- Cost-effective if you have lots of consistent work.
- Getting total control over the team’s focus.
- Enjoying flexibility in change of content schedules.
- Having to make a long-term commitment.
- You need to put someone in charge of recruiting the team.
- You need to pay for benefits, office space, ongoing development etc.
- It’s hard to evolve the team if you need a new specialized function.
2) Hiring an agency (not a bad medium- to long-term option but with some caveats)
It’s not shocking when you hear about love-hate relationships with agencies. Why?
Because some are great partners and transparent from day 1, while others will say anything to win the job, and then try to figure out how to deliver it later on.
Often, some agencies put way too much focus on their own agenda, such as winning awards and creating a name for themselves. This can be a win/win for the client but it causes headaches, scope creep or missed deadlines.
Of all the content creation models, an agency is the most unpredictable. You may experience high staff turnover – expect 10-30% each year.
Additionally, agencies are not known for lean teams. It’s rare to find a 2 or 3-person agency team.
Mid-size agencies usually staff 4-6 people for an account. As for large agencies, it’s not uncommon to have 6-12 people on a team.
These extra layers can slow down your work and increase costs.
However, when the relationship is scoped the right way, and the people on your account are good, agencies can produce great work.
Even though a premium has to be paid when working with an agency, you’ll enjoy the flexibility to stop working with them if you ever have a shift in strategies or budget cuts.
Below are the key things to consider when working with an agency.
- Agencies excel at conceptual thinking, generating big ideas and creating campaigns.
- Upon hiring an agency, you can instantly leverage their process, people and learnings over the years.
- Gaining access to a network of people within the agency which can come in handy if you need to speak to an expert.
- It’s relatively easy to find and hire an agency, although the scoping process can take some time.
- High turnover rate.
- High tendency for the agency to say yes up front, and figure out how to deliver the work later.
- Agencies usually charge by the billable hour, which potentially leads to incremental fee requests by the end of the project.
- Instead of a flat fee, prices vary based on the client.
- Leadership may be motivated by big ideas and awards which doesn’t always help the client.
3) Using a staffing firm to find freelancers (short-term commitment but a premium is usually required)
If your company moves very quickly, engaging a staffing firm can be great as they are well-informed on what talent is available in local markets, and they might have candidates that can start in 2 or 3 days from when you make your initial request.
- Being able to seek out people very quickly.
- Staffing firms have insights into what skill sets are needed.
- Good fit for short-term (e.g. 1- to 2-month) projects.
- Staffing firms take a high percentage off candidates’ fees (sometimes up to 50%) which can leave them feeling undervalued.
- It can be time-consuming when interviewing candidates.
- Once you find a candidate, the staffing agency plays a minimal role, usually only handling the billing.
- Having no Account Director to manage multiple freelancers.
- Possibly attracting freelancers who “need the work” which means they may not have a proven track record.
4) Finding and managing freelancers by yourself (good short-term option but the process can be hard)
This is an excellent option if you have a lot of freelancer connections and fully understand the creative process (e.g. what freelancers need to create great work).
You also need to be good at working with creative people. You need to understand when to give them guidance, and when to give them the space to create great work.
- You know up front the person who produces your work.
- Cost-effective since you don’t have to pay for the services of any staffing firm or agency.
- You can bring your freelancers in whenever you need them, and then let them work on other projects.
- Having to manage the team of freelancers on your own.
- Having to hire more freelancers to scale the team if they hit capacity.
- They are usually working on other projects, so you don’t have their undivided attention.
5) Hiring a content collective
This is a relatively new approach to consider, which blends the agency and freelance models together.
It’s ideal for companies that need content marketing but don’t wish to invest a large sum into building up a team, or signing an agreement with an agency.
The collective option adopts an on-demand approach so you only need to pay when your content is being created.
There’s also a higher level of transparency involved.
You know the team that you’re getting and you know what the content will cost you up front since you’re ordering it off a menu.
- Gaining access to writers who are subject matter experts in your industry.
- Being able to scale the content production up or down based on your business needs.
- No need for long-term commitments.
- Having access to an Account Director who manages your hand-picked team.
- Enjoying transparent pricing upfront so you know what you’re paying for.
- The collective team is not dedicated to your account unless you have a separate agreement with them.
- Since members of the collective have various specialties, they often work in different cities, so in-person meetings cannot be guaranteed.
- They usually don’t work on-site, so you don’t enjoy the luxury of walking down the hall and seeing them every day.
For more information about the collective model, read the article I recently published: How a content marketing collective can lower your B2B blood pressure.
Creating content can be tricky.
But as long as you understand the different approaches at your disposal, you can achieve better traction by implementing the model that works best for you.