The Word Factory's Margot LesterEven if your official planning for next year is done, there are some quick things you can to do improve performance in the New Year that don’t require additional budget. These easy-to-implement ideas will help you get more from your content marketing in 2013. This is the final installment in the series.

2013 Content Marketing Planning Task 3:

Get better content from freelancers.

According to the Content Marketing: 2013 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends—North America Report, 44% of organizations outsource content creation to freelancers. If you’re one of them, you want to maximize that workflow for maximum cost effectiveness. Here are 4 tips, which also work great with internal teams of content developers:

1. Use models and criteria to ensure quality

A list of descriptive criteria based on best-in-class examples gives freelancers a clear picture your qualitative and quantitative standards. This is more than your corporate style guide. It's actual models and articulated traits to guide their content development. These resources also make it a lot easier to review and revise their work if you’re working from the same standards. Click here to learn how to develop and use criteria to help your content development team create great stuff. It's also a good idea to share your content marketing mission statement.

2. Leverage writers’ interests, expertise & knowledge

After you’ve been working with a stable of freelancers, you begin to notice who’s best at what, whether it’s a topic (say, home improvement) or a form (like how-to articles). You can improve productivity and quality by making assignments based on those strengths. A writer who's adept at covering certain subjects or forms will generally work faster than one who isn't. And better writer engagement begets better audience engagement. But don’t overdo it lest your authors get bored or complacent. Mix it up when you can to keep content creators interested and to make sure you don’t put all your eggs in one contractor’s basket.

3. Package assignments to create efficiencies

Another way to create efficiency and improve effectiveness is to bundle assignments on a particular topic whenever possible, allowing one freelancer to research a topic and create lots of content from it. This is particularly effective if your content is highly technical or complicated, because only one writer will be investing time learning the subject matter, looking up terms or figuring out how to “translate” complex ideas into simple language. The result is faster, better content.

4. Develop a framework for planning content

Improve the odds of getting content that's on point by using a standard planning framework for freelancer assignments. We use Content-Purpose-Audience Strategy® for each piece or set of pieces to ensure clarity of message and purpose. You can use it, too, or create your own standard format. This better-than-an-outline process is a road map for the piece and helps the writer -- and reviewers -- stay on track. It also helps guide research, reduce redundancy and limit review passes. Here's how to use the C-P-A.

2013 Content Marketing Planning Action Step:

Review your assignment process and try at least one of these tips to improve freelancer production.


Other posts in this series: