Guest blogger David A. Gabay is a lawyer and writer.
It’s crunch time! Your quarterly product release, seasonal marketing campaign, or annual industry trade show has snuck up again—and your team is feeling the burn.
More specifically, you’re facing the void. The copy and content void, that is. There are web pages to launch, product descriptions to craft, videos to script, deadlines to hit…and the clock is ticking. With your content workload suddenly tripled, you’re wondering how your team can generate all necessary messaging on a dime.
Take a breath. Take two. Know in your heart: you’ve got this. There are ways to scale without compromising quality—or losing sleep. Here are 5 common content scaling strategies employed by marketing leaders, and some pros and cons of each.
1. Put all else on pause
You could kibosh new assets. Freeze website updates and blog posts. Just a single-track focus on the most important initiative(s).
How to go about it: Easy. Stop writing, editing, and publishing new copy until your rush is over or your major project is finished. And stop feeling guilty!
The Pros: prioritization accomplished—followed by a little much-needed R&R
The Cons: a standstill on marketing momentum, with a decrease in related metrics
2. Hire writers from a temp agency
You could ask a creative temp agency to send you some candidates.
How to go about it: Do ask for writing samples—and perhaps add a brief test for good measure. Concoct a list of deal-breakers and must-haves. Should they be strategic, detail-oriented, or both? Can they perform—with minimal nudging or handholding? Make sure the writer is a self-starter: do they reply to your emails quickly, communicate clearly, and have a healthy respect for deadlines?
The Pros: speed of placement
The Cons: lack of quality control, high placement fees or markups
3. Bring in a freelancer (or two!)
You have the option of tapping into your own personal network of writers. You know them, you trust them, and best of all, they aren’t employees. Or are they?
How to go about it: Call your local freelancer and strike a deal.
The Pros: familiar quality
The Cons: familiar quality, potential lack of bandwidth, potential legal knot (see below)
Warning: Going the freelancer route can involve risks beyond the quality of the work. California’s new freelance law sharply limits how you can use self-employed copywriters—and severely punishes violators. (We’ll come back to this in a moment). A similar bill is working its way through the New Jersey legislature—and may soon become law. Of course, run this possibility by your legal department to know how it applies in your state—and to your specific company and situation.
4. Use a freelancer platform
Don’t have a personal network of freelancers? Use a platform like Upwork to locate a writer.
How to go about it: Research a few platforms, find one you like, put in the project description, price it out (choose from hourly, day rate, or project models), and watch the responses come rolling in.
The Pros: the potential to find a needle in a haystack
The Cons: time-consuming sifting through multiple responses, samples, and fee structures
5. Outsource your content overflow to a copywriting agency
Professional copywriting agencies can solve your problem. They parachute in, link up with your team, and write great copy. After they finish they unplug, log off, and go home. Life is normal again and all is well.
How to go about it: Look for a copywriting agency like MarketSmiths—one with built-in oversight, built-in quality control, a knack for handling complexity, and “forever” scale.
The Pros: strategic oversight, built-in QC, high-quality work, nimbleness
The Cons: none
Of course, we know you can’t hire just anyone to write your copy:
Here are 4 key qualities to look for in a first-rate copywriting partner.
1. The Right People
The wrong copywriter or content strategist for a given campaign can burn through time in a way that cascades—especially when there are important dependencies at stake. Take things step by step—and nip any substandard work product in the bud.
2. Fast Learners
Need your outside writers to apply all rules and particularities from your 20-page style guide? A strong agency will get everyone up to speed, quickly. Possess built-in complexities about your industry, your value, your offering, and more? Copywriters worth their salt will need just a few hours to wrangle it all.
3. Plug and Play
Even beyond the style guide, a strong copywriting agency will be able to work seamlessly inside your existing systems and workflows. That means everything from prompt onboarding to polished communication with stakeholders to proficiency with your particular processes and systems. Plug and play is what you’re looking for—and a great agency will deliver it.
4. Legal Compliance
Working with an agency liberates your team from headcount restrictions as well as labor law violations.
X’s Dilemma: How One Major Player Did It
Company X is a well-known global media company. Several years ago, one of the product marketing divisions faced a tricky dilemma: a seasonal overflow of work that was more than the copywriting team of 12 could handle on its own. Because of local labor laws, the legal department had put a halt on utilizing freelancers.
X’s divisional director of content and communications needed a solution. So they vetted a few copywriting agencies—and went with MarketSmiths.
We assigned a team of five talented, experienced copywriters to augment X’s product marketing staff. With our client’s help, we learned the internal workflow process—and got a thorough primer on style guide particulars. We onboarded into their custom content management system, so we could upload our finished work. Finally, we plugged into their workflows, passing our copy through the proper channels until fully approved.
Working steadily from our own location, we delivered dozens of copy pieces that year, and (as needed) for three of the following four years.
If copywriter augmentation sounds like something your team needs, let’s talk.