You’ve likely heard that publishing a lot of content is important to get more traffic to your site. Or, more specifically, you know publishing high-quality, long-form articles that your readers will love is the best way to build trust and grow your business. The statistics show this strategy works, as content marketing costs 62% less than traditional marketing and generates about three times as many leads.
However, scaling your editorial process is no easy feat, especially if you’re working with a tight budget. For some companies, hiring an in-house creative team is the best and most logical way to grow their business. For others, working with a content marketing agency is the most cost-effective method to become a trusted and authoritative presence in your industry.
To help you determine which one is the right choice for your business, we’ve outlined the pros and cons of hiring an internal content team versus a content marketing agency — and what that means for your budget.
What is an internal content team?
While many businesses have a go-to content writer, some may have a strategic team that leverages the power of content marketing for their audience. An internal content team is an in-house department consisting of SEO specialists, content strategists, designers, editors and, of course, writers to develop content.
What is a content marketing agency?
Content marketing agencies are outsourced by businesses to assist in content marketing creation and content strategy. Essentially, a content marketing agency can be seen as a business partner with its own expertise, team members, and marketing services. A business will render its services so they don’t have to provide all the content creation and management themselves.
For example, a content marketing agency can create blog posts, video, images, emails and more for marketing campaigns. This content can be used throughout a business’s website, social media channels, and email newsletters by using search engine optimization tools and market research.
Related article: What Does a Content Marketing Agency Do?
What’s the difference between an internal content team and a content marketing agency?
As the name suggests, an internal content team is when a business manages, creates, and strategizes their own content marketing processes. The team is usually built out with each leader and member holding their own roles to create strategic content for their target audience.
On the other hand, when a business outsources their content to a content marketing agency, the agency’s team will use their specific skills and expertise to manage and create the business’s content. This gives the business’s employees more availability to work on other efforts such as building their audience and increasing revenue.
You can build your content marketing team by hiring an internal content team, an outsourced content marketing agency, or a combination of the two. While each option has its advantages and disadvantages, no option is inherently “better” than the other; you’ll need to carefully consider the unique needs of your business to determine what makes the most sense for you.
The benefits of an internal content team
- As a business, you have more direct control over your team. Managing an in-house team gives you more oversight over who’s doing the work and how they’re doing it, as well as a greater ability to coordinate team efforts. You’ll also have greater control over costs and how your business’ data is being used.
- An internal team also allows you to be more nimble. For example, if your industry has a breaking news development that needs to be covered ASAP, your employees can cover it that morning. Agencies tend to have multiple clients and deadlines, and thus may not always be able to accommodate last-minute requests.
Cons of an internal content team
- You’ll need to manage the recruiting, hiring, and training processes for each employee. Once each worker is onboarded, you’ll also need to manage their salaries, benefits, and paid time off. This can become both costly and time-consuming.
- An internal team can fall into a rut or become susceptible to “groupthink,” especially if they’ve become comfortable or have been doing the same kind of work for a while.
- Because in-house teams are an expensive investment, scaling your content marketing efforts can be difficult, especially for smaller businesses.
The benefits of a content marketing agency
- Agencies are experienced in marketing so they know the best practices and bring new ideas. Content marketing agencies are constantly on the pulse of new industry trends and can offer a fresh set of eyes for your business.
- An agency can create a large quantity of content for your business in a little amount of time. Agencies have strong teams behind them and have gotten their workflow down to a science, allowing them to move efficiently and provide deliverables quickly.
- Depending on your business needs, working with a content marketing agency can be much more cost effective than hiring an in-house editorial team. Furthermore, a content marketing agency can increase their production quickly if and when your budget allows.
Cons of a content marketing agency
- Marketing agencies work with a variety of clients. While agencies will stick to their deadlines and communicate with you regularly, they have to do the same for their other clients. If you message them about an urgent blog post with an end of day turnaround time, they may not be able to take care of it without shirking their other responsibilities.
- When working with an agency, you have less direct oversight into the direction of their work. Your interactions may be limited to messaging or a few in-person meetings, and you can’t manage their day-to-day work as easily as you could an in-house team.
Hybrid content team
With a hybrid content team, you have all your bases covered. You can work closely with your internal content team for your primary messaging, and assign them any pieces that require quick turnaround time. You can outsource bulk content projects to your agency to ensure your site is regularly updated with new articles. If you’re struggling to develop a content marketing strategy, your agency may also provide you with new ideas that you can delegate to your in-house team.
How much does an editorial team cost?
In short, the cost of an editorial team will depend on how many people you’re looking to hire. Using the average US salary annually for each position (sourced from Indeed.com), however, these numbers can quickly add up.
Hiring a content manager to create, publish, and manage your content will cost you around $58,000. If you don’t want your content manager to do all of the writing, you’ll need to hire a staff writer — that’s another $43,000. Adding an editor tacks another $52,000 onto your bill, while adding a producer is another $50,000. If you want a devoted SEO specialist, expect to pay another $53,000. Added together, your editorial team of five will cost around $257,000 each year.
This total number assumes your company only employees one individual for each position. The more your business expands its content team, such as hiring a small team of five content writers, the greater an impact it will have on your budget. This estimation does not include other employee expenses, such as employment taxes, healthcare benefits, retirement plans, and so on.
How much content can an internal team create?
The amount of content any team publishes depends on a variety of different factors, including article word count, required research, internal processes and efficiencies and more.
However, let’s assume the small team of five employees listed above can produce 20 high-quality, strategic articles a month. That’s 240 articles published each year. In terms of balancing your editorial budget, we’ll assume an internal editorial team’s salary adds up to $257,000 a year. In this scenario, each article costs your business $1,070 to plan, research, write, edit, and produce.
How does that compare against a content marketing agency?
Working with a content marketing agency can save you hundreds of thousands of dollars each year. Literally! For example, our pricing for the same 240 high-quality articles start at $36,000 and include each step of the editorial process, from SEO research to website production. In this scenario, your business saves over $220,000 dollars a year in salary costs alone, not to mention additional employment and benefit costs, without sacrificing your brand’s quality, tone, or voice.
Related article: 5 Good Reasons to Outsource Your Social Media Management
What’s best for my budget?
Ultimately, it depends on your publishing needs. If you need to publish multiple content pieces on a daily basis, an in-house editorial department is best for you. If you’re new to publishing or are trying to scale your existing content strategy, talk to a content marketing agency.
Considerations when hiring an in-house content team
Here are a few questions to consider when hiring an in-house content team:
- How much content does my business need to appeal to my target audience?
- Does my business have time to carve out time for content creation each week?
- How much expertise does a writer need to write about my industry?
- Is my industry too specialized? Will this make it difficult to find writers?
- How much experience do they have working with CMSes?
- Is my business able to handle the added expense of hiring, onboarding, and employing an entire content team?
- What type of content writers does my business need?
Considerations when hiring a content marketing agency
Here’s what to take into account when hiring a content marketing agency:
- Check past work/portfolio/client testimonials
- Ensure they understand scope of work and expectations
- Make sure they have a working understanding of your industry or previous experience
- Check their SEO strategy to ensure your content will be search engine friendly
- Ask if they do target market research so your content will stand out
- Meet with them over video chat or in-person to gauge if you’ll be able to work well with them
- Test out a piece of content with them to create so you know their working style beforehand
Lightning Media Partners is here to help you create high-quality content that will resonate with your audience — at the fraction of the cost of an in-house team. Contact us today to get started.
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