Justifying Cost of Content Outsourcing

Joined
Mar 17, 2016
Messages
104
Likes
60
Degree
0
#1
Maybe I am missing something, but here is where I am:

I know I need content. Duh.
I know I dont have the time or inclination to produce said content.
Ergo, I must hire and outsource.

I found a fantastic writer, but he commands fantastic prices. $300 per month for 4 pieces of written content each month.

I am not sure that I can or should justify this rate considering my site is at break even right now. Will the ROI on this writer be worth it? How do you all calculate the ROI for outsourcing and other expenditures?

This is probably a convoluted noob question, but I would rather get flamed than fall.
 

Ryuzaki

女性以上のお金
Staff member
BuSo Pro
Digital Strategist
Joined
Sep 3, 2014
Messages
3,054
Likes
5,578
Degree
7
#2
For me, I know going in that I'm paying $100+ per article for ones that I don't intend to earn money from. They are supporting content, they hide the fact that I intend on making a lot of money on a few other articles.

You can come at it from two angles, as I see it right now just spitballing... You understand the return on these articles as something indirectly related to cash, like I'm talking about above. If you order the right content, they pay you back in traffic, links, social signals, list magnets, etc. It's all in how you design it when you order and what you do with it afterwards. But like you said that's not necessarily making sense for you money-wise at the moment.

The other angle would be to use the cash on one, insane article. It's got content, tables, lists, charts, interactive jquery graphics, maps you can hover, all of that. You go all out with your entire content budget on one masterful piece. Then you go all out on promotion and this piece slays all others because the return on "attention" is exponentially proportional to quality.

Many moons ago I spent two weeks crafting one post by hand. I did real research, collected real data, created 3 types of interaction (2 tables and one map), explained the data, made custom CSS stuff for expert quotes about it and for references, I went all out. Then I sent it to @Steve Brownlie to do high-metric outreach. He let me know that this might have been the easiest post to get links to ever. I'm sure he can say a lot more about the topic, as could @stackcash, the content master.

People get ROI on content all day, every day. But it requires you following up on it and making sure you're exploiting it. Later on, when you can publish and rank within a month with no links, that's when you can scale to the moon on volume. At first, I'd be thinking about a ratio of infinity-to-one in terms of quality to quantity.

Later though, when it comes to high volume publishing for SEO purposes it becomes a game of how much cash can you float, when you know you can hit publish and in 12 months that piece of content breaks even. When you can manage the overhead and wait it out, it's like printing money. I'm not there, but I've known people there, where they combine their social media presence, list, and SEO, and it all boils down to volume. Once you have mass exposure, a lot of those eyeballs do the social and off-page SEO work for you.
 

stackcash

I Sell Words
BuSo Pro
Digital Strategist
Joined
Nov 19, 2014
Messages
652
Likes
1,038
Degree
3
#3
$75 per article really isn't much money at all, honestly. That's about 2 to 3 hours of work.

If you're not willing or able to spend 3 hours writing a 1,000-word article just the way you want it, then you need to pay people to do it for you.

Sure, you can hire a writer (or several) at $.02 per word from Craigslist. But, how much time are you going to spend training and managing them? Is it close to 3 hours per article? I bet it's pretty close.

That's not even considering the time you'll spend sifting through the 100+ applications you get, testing the applicants, etc. I can't begin to tell you how many times I've spent weeks negotiating with a writer to join our team, only to have them back out after a few projects.

Besides simply trading money for time, you also need to consider your goals. Can you consistently come up with insightful content that keeps your visitors reading? Do you have the experience to know how to combine natural, helpful writing with proper optimization so the content can actually be seen?

Writers are not machines. You cannot insert a dollar bill and have a perfect article pop out. You need to acknowledge that they have a skill set that you may not have....and that they should be compensated accordingly.

On top of this, I'm assuming you're expecting each article you publish to make you money. If you have zero idea what the potential ROI is for each article, then you don't have all the information you need. A single article can earn thousands upon thousands of dollars (if not, more) indefinitely. Would you not trade $75, $100, or even $1000 for this?

Granted, you can't spend money if you don't have it to spend. If that is the case, you should simply be writing the content yourself. If you don't feel that you have the skill set to write the content, then, as @Ryuzaki pointed out, you should save up to outsource one single, amazing piece of content. Spend 3 months promoting that one single piece of content and the money will follow. Rinse and repeat.
 

CCarter

If they cease to believe in u, do u even exist?
Staff member
BuSo Pro
Boot Camp
Digital Strategist
Joined
Sep 15, 2014
Messages
2,035
Likes
4,544
Degree
5
#4
Whenever I was in a meeting with a small business owner and they used the phrase "justify the costs" for the proposed marketing campaign it always meant that they just didn't want to spend money - period. I never bothered following up with those business since they were stuck in the "small business" mentality. They had no wish to grow. They were more concerned with saving money and not spending and somehow magically new revenue would come in. They weren't willing to take the risks on growing their business.

Content has been king since the days of storytelling. The stories people told before the printing press where the content. When you look in a magazine that's mostly content in there where the Advertisement is laced against. Same with Radio and TV. They both play content pieces and throughout the content pieces there are ADs that drive in revenue.

It's the same thing with websites. If you aren't willing to create content then what exactly are you here for? The only way to generate revenue is against content. And if you think spending $5 on some engrish content that you have to waste your time rewriting makes sense, well it sounds like you aren't willing to take any risk in your business or growing it. The difference between a $100 piece of content, or even $5000 piece of content like TheWireCutter does, versus a $5 engrish article is worlds apart. Certain levels of content pull you into the story, the words interweave a message with a story that cannot be duplicated with low quality nonsense.

Basically it's like "justifying" a budget for a TV Show like "Game of Thrones", versus "Barney & Friends". If you honestly cannot see a single piece of content that you paid $100 for generating you more than $100, potentially an infinite amount of money cause of that one piece, then it sounds like you are in the wrong business OR you aren't measuring your success correctly.
 
Joined
Nov 18, 2014
Messages
192
Likes
140
Degree
1
#5
If you honestly cannot see a single piece of content that you paid $100 for generating you more than $100, potentially an infinite amount of money cause of that one piece, then it sounds like you are in the wrong business OR you aren't measuring your success correctly.
To add, I think people (I know I used to) think it's going to happen as soon as they hit "publish" and they think the whole buying content thing failed when they still have a $0 after 90 days. When, realistically, either it always will be a zero, or it's going to be a while via SEO/ranking. It's just not PPC where you get the immediate clicks/traffic/sales.
 

contract

We're all gunna mine it brah.
Joined
Jun 2, 2015
Messages
312
Likes
384
Degree
2
#6
CCarter wrote a really nice piece about "stocking your shelves with product" awhile ago.

It's on Buso somewhere. I often think about it from time to time.

If you have a blog, and want to make $ through content... Well, then you're going to need to stock your blog (aka store) with content (aka product). Your customers can't buy from you (in the form of ads, ebooks, affilate, etc) if you constantly have empty shelves. They'll just go to another competitor who has everything they want in stock.

....

If you are 100% serious, then it REALLY doesn't matter what the content costs. No expense is too expensive if the end goal requires it. (Obv, you will make mistakes, overspend, etc. But most importantly, you WILL LEARN and improve; if you are willing.) If you have to eat PB&J sandwiches for a month in order to fund content, then you make the damn SACRAFICES.

Thinking that content won't make you money is SELF DOUBT in the clearest form. You've already accepted that you're going to fail. There are countless sites out there pulling hundreds of thousands of dollars EVERY MONTH on a SINGLE peice of content. Yet, you think it's somehow impossible for you to do it? You don't need a mother fucking case study to know that Buzzfeed makes a fucking ton of money. If you can't trust your gut, this isn't for you.

These GIANT content sites don't have any fucking secrets. THEY JUST FUCKING DO IT! Period. They aren't worried about this article or that article failing. They stock their shelves constantly with content and know someone will come along and buy into what their selling. They get tatical and promote the hell of their site. People have been doing this FOR AGES, in ALL type of industiries. The local home builder takes out TV ads, sends postcards... The blogger buys PPC ads. Giants like Red Bull hand out sponsorships like candy.

Just because you're offering content and not energy drinks, home construction, payday loans, etc. Doesn't mean the game requires a super advanced formula. You get creative and learn about what works and what doesn't by DOING.

....

In the FIRST 2 years, there is going to be NO ROI.

That's not true for everyone but the point is crystal fucking clear: If you can't accept a time frame that SHORT, then you're not prepared for the long road ahead.

It takes some people 5-7 YEARS to buy, merge, round up and sell companies before they see the profit at the end. It's like sex, it all comes at the end.

Imagine buying bought out for $20 million after 7 or 8 years... Oh wait.. You were too worried about ROI on a fucking $100 article in the first 2 years and didn't have the balls to pull the trigger and make the sacrafices. That buyout has now VANISHED!

Do you think the business all-stars give a single fuck about ROI? No! They focus on ROM, return on minutes, because they only have so much time to get shit done.

Short term thinking is what kills businesses today. So many people just give up before they even get started either. (Mentally speaking).

....

If you think paying for content is TOUGH...

LOL. Then...

Just wait till you dive into the real world of running a giant content-based site...

Paying for content will feel like taking candy for a baby. Meanwhile you'll be dodging gunfire and grenades left and right. IT IS A CONSTANT BATTLE ZONE... and THE WAR ENDS IN EITHER VICTORY OR DEFEAT.

Paying for content is like getting a scratch on your leg and being too weak to get up and man the machine gun. If you can't overcome 1 BATTLE, then the war is going to be over in 1 second with your guts spilled out on the battlefield, beacuse NO ONE is going to stop and give a fuck about you.
 
Joined
Sep 4, 2016
Messages
313
Likes
204
Degree
1
#7
@contract calls it as it is, and I respect him for that.
I havent had a job in close to 2 years. Everything I'm putting into my own project is my savings. No cash flow at all. It stresses me the fuck out but hey, every dollar I spend is an investment in my online business.

While people are worried about the cost of content, I'm pouring money into hiring experts to write, and talk about my brand/niche on a daily basis.

Persistence and a set of balls goes a long way.
 

RomesFall

so po qwo ro
BuSo Pro
Joined
Oct 7, 2014
Messages
445
Likes
618
Degree
2
#8
It starts with and ends with content. Period.

I'm working on a site right now that's been sat aging for the better part of 2 years. I couldn't get behind it up until this point. The barrier entry on the niche was too high - namely because of the quality of the content.

Thousands of real bloggers, who know how to write and have the time to do it.

It would have been pointless me going to iWriter or Textbroker because as @stackcash says, you need to qualify these people, teach them how to do it the way you want and hope they don't just magically disappear after all that.

And after all that... Their content probably still won't be as good as 50% of your competitors, because these are struggling writers remember.

We as marketers have an advantage on the bloggers who can write though, we have the ability to do good keyword research, match the intent of a searcher etc. We know how to promote. But all of that doesn't matter if the content is crap.

That's why I never started on this current site until now.

When you're doing your niche analysis, your competitor research and your customer profiles ALWAYS think about this. My advice to you would be to spend a week writing a piece, send it to a quality service and tell them, this is the standard if you can match and exceed this then I'll pay you anything you like. Because it'll be worth it.

Even if you're only doing SEO, there's this widespread train of thought that you must consistently improve the rankings of an entire site. It's just not true, most sites make the majority of their revenue from just a handful of pieces of content. This is what @Ryuzaki is getting at. It's 80/20 in action...

You could easily focus on 1 or 2 pieces, promote them, rank them and cash in before repeating that process on the next couple of pieces of content. That's something I could have done if it wasn't for my perfectionism holding me back the last couple of years. Regardless for me now I can have my cake and eat it. But remember if you're not sure that you can make the $ from those killer 1 or 2 pieces, you've probably not done enough research around that topic. So improve your processes for those, don't let uncertainty creep its way in to your content quality.
 

Andrewkar

...
BuSo Pro
Joined
Nov 6, 2014
Messages
381
Likes
200
Degree
1
#10
Whenever I was in a meeting with a small business owner and they used the phrase "justify the costs" for the proposed marketing campaign it always meant that they just didn't want to spend money - period. I never bothered following up with those business since they were stuck in the "small business" mentality. They had no wise to grow. They were more concerned with saving money and not spending and somehow magically new revenue would come in. They weren't willing to take the risks on growing their business.
Thank you. That's all I had to say.
 
Joined
Sep 17, 2014
Messages
383
Likes
243
Degree
1
#11
It's not a convoluted question. You say you know you need content, refuse to write it, and don't want to pay for it. What else is there other than failure for you if you go this direction?

Maybe you can find a business model that doesn't rely on content. There are plenty of them.
 
Joined
Jan 16, 2017
Messages
105
Likes
25
Degree
0
#12
This post has switched on a light for me. I struggle with sitting down and writing. I have found some decent $10-12 per 1000 word writers on UpWork and I convinced myself to get some articles written for my site, because I am sure I can sell the site as a going concern and re-coup my content costs, if worse comes to worst.
 
Joined
Nov 12, 2017
Messages
35
Likes
30
Degree
0
#16
CCarter wrote a really nice piece about "stocking your shelves with product" awhile ago.

It's on Buso somewhere. I often think about it from time to time.

If you have a blog, and want to make $ through content... Well, then you're going to need to stock your blog (aka store) with content (aka product). Your customers can't buy from you (in the form of ads, ebooks, affilate, etc) if you constantly have empty shelves. They'll just go to another competitor who has everything they want in stock.

....

If you are 100% serious, then it REALLY doesn't matter what the content costs. No expense is too expensive if the end goal requires it. (Obv, you will make mistakes, overspend, etc. But most importantly, you WILL LEARN and improve; if you are willing.) If you have to eat PB&J sandwiches for a month in order to fund content, then you make the damn SACRAFICES.

Thinking that content won't make you money is SELF DOUBT in the clearest form. You've already accepted that you're going to fail. There are countless sites out there pulling hundreds of thousands of dollars EVERY MONTH on a SINGLE peice of content. Yet, you think it's somehow impossible for you to do it? You don't need a mother fucking case study to know that Buzzfeed makes a fucking ton of money. If you can't trust your gut, this isn't for you.

These GIANT content sites don't have any fucking secrets. THEY JUST FUCKING DO IT! Period. They aren't worried about this article or that article failing. They stock their shelves constantly with content and know someone will come along and buy into what their selling. They get tatical and promote the hell of their site. People have been doing this FOR AGES, in ALL type of industiries. The local home builder takes out TV ads, sends postcards... The blogger buys PPC ads. Giants like Red Bull hand out sponsorships like candy.

Just because you're offering content and not energy drinks, home construction, payday loans, etc. Doesn't mean the game requires a super advanced formula. You get creative and learn about what works and what doesn't by DOING.

....

In the FIRST 2 years, there is going to be NO ROI.

That's not true for everyone but the point is crystal fucking clear: If you can't accept a time frame that SHORT, then you're not prepared for the long road ahead.

It takes some people 5-7 YEARS to buy, merge, round up and sell companies before they see the profit at the end. It's like sex, it all comes at the end.

Imagine buying bought out for $20 million after 7 or 8 years... Oh wait.. You were too worried about ROI on a fucking $100 article in the first 2 years and didn't have the balls to pull the trigger and make the sacrafices. That buyout has now VANISHED!

Do you think the business all-stars give a single fuck about ROI? No! They focus on ROM, return on minutes, because they only have so much time to get shit done.

Short term thinking is what kills businesses today. So many people just give up before they even get started either. (Mentally speaking).

....

If you think paying for content is TOUGH...

LOL. Then...

Just wait till you dive into the real world of running a giant content-based site...

Paying for content will feel like taking candy for a baby. Meanwhile you'll be dodging gunfire and grenades left and right. IT IS A CONSTANT BATTLE ZONE... and THE WAR ENDS IN EITHER VICTORY OR DEFEAT.

Paying for content is like getting a scratch on your leg and being too weak to get up and man the machine gun. If you can't overcome 1 BATTLE, then the war is going to be over in 1 second with your guts spilled out on the battlefield, beacuse NO ONE is going to stop and give a fuck about you.
Got to say...this is still one of the most inspiring posts I've yet found for justifying content creation, whether done in-house or outsourced. I like to read it and imagine I'm paying myself each time I write an article, because in the long term, I am.

And the shelf post by CCarter is this one, if I'm not mistaken--> https://www.buildersociety.com/thre...-of-what-everyone-used-to-do.2867/#post-29727 I just came across it the other day.