How much is a blog post worth? $50? $200? $500? According to the fine folks at Fiverr, $5 a pop?
Companies are hungry for content, and words can be had for virtually any price (yes, even $5). In today's tech-obsessed world, there's a push for everything to happen faster, cheaper, more efficiently. Place your order on an app or a form, and in the blink of an eye, you'll receive a package of content with the exact titles and keywords you've specified. Presto!
This on-demand delivery model can work awesomely well when it comes to buying groceries through Instacart or booking an Uber at the airport. But when it comes to content marketing, more often than not, the end product is utter crap when you follow this hands-off model, regardless of whether you've gone straight for the lowest bidder or not.
If your content creator views your content as merely an order to be fulfilled, nine times out of 10, it's not going to satisfy your needs.
Great content is a craft--not a commodity.
Here's why the SaaS model, smart as it is for many things, doesn't work when it comes to content:
Great content requires true insight
Are you asking someone to write an article on your behalf without ever having a conversation with them? That's your first mistake. Keyword data can be useful, but when you're asking someone to write a story that showcases the value of your brand, they need to first understand who you are and what makes your prospects tick. Quality content needs to speak to its readers' passions, fears, and motivations--which means whoever's creating it needs the time and space to climb inside their heads. That takes a genuine content strategy; it's not possible in a formula-driven package offering.
Content marketing is a collaboration
In the same vein, it's important to get out of the mindset that content is a product to be bought and sold. It's not: It's a partnership between the content creator and the stakeholder.
Your role in the process is to clearly define the messaging and goals of each piece of content, and the creator will offer a recommended plan of attack. Once you've mutually agreed on an ideal game plan, you'll work through the content process in pre-defined stages (at our agency, we typically start with a detailed pitch or outline, move to a draft, which is internally edited prior to client review; and then complete another draft based on our client's feedback). You'll ensure that your content creator has the right resources, such as access to research documents or subject-matter experts, and the creator work to ensure a solid understanding of the goals and messaging of the piece before moving forward. A collaborative process is crucial to developing successful content, and in an on-demand market, it's completely missing.
Content marketing is a service, not a product
At the end of the process, you may end up with a product: An ebook, a series of blog posts, or an infographic, for instance. But in order to get to that end product, it takes a team of people who are invested in your goals and objectives. You're not paying for words or images on a page--you're paying for the time and expertise of the people who worked together to conceptualize and deliver the best possible work they could for you.
So, if you don't have an in-house team available to craft content for your business, it's fine to look for support (and in some cases, I recommend it). But as you choose your partner, think carefully about the goals of your content, and find a collaborator who'll be invested in the journey with you. Only by slowing down and being thoughtful about content--treating it as a core part of your business rather than a simple commodity--can you truly realize the immense power of content marketing.