The act of content creation is still one that plagues marketers. According to the 2013 Content Marketing Institute/Marketing Profs survey, 69% of marketers say they don’t have enough time to create content; 55% say they can’t produce enough content; and 47%say they can’t produce content that the audience actually cares about.
So, hiring professional writers to do the work and deliver high quality seems like a perfect solution to the content creation conundrum. You need high quality writing, and freelancers are available, often at a good price.
But here’s the rub: Freelance writers complete assignments, but that’s all they do. They may do so beautifully and efficiently, but they are not bringing that extra oomph to the issue at hand. Typically, they are not thinking strategically. If a brand hires a freelance writer to complete a story, it’s a rare freelancer who’s going to suggest doing video, or an infographic, or turning the idea into a series of webinars. The freelancer is going to take the assignment, complete the assignment, and submit an invoice. With a freelancer, there is a beginning and an end, but there isn’t necessarily a big meaty middle, filled with strategy and brainstorming.
Clearly, sometimes all you need and want is a quick trip from Point A to Point B. Like the baseball manager sending up the pinch-hitter, you’re just hoping for a solid single. However, the Internet is filled with, let’s see now... carry the two… about one gazillion solid singles. Your content strategy needs some grand slams. And getting a grand slam from a freelancer is about as common as, well, a pinch-hit grand slam.
I have an obvious bias here. In truth, we do use freelancers for some projects (and I love you guys).
However, the way that brands tell stories is changing. There are some folks who think the article is an antiquated method for informing an audience, and that we need to explore alternative ways of delivering information: video, interactive databases, events. The question is, what is the best way to inform and engage an audience? Words on a screen or on a page aren’t always the best answer, but a freelance writer isn’t thinking about the task of audience connection that way. He’s thinking about word count, and what the fee will be.
The platform on which a story is told is an increasingly critical part of the equation; the medium is the message, and the strategic discussion that determines the medium should include a content creator ready, willing and able to have the discussion.
Remember, you usually get what you ask for -- and sometimes that’s simply not enough.