What to Expect from a Content Creation Agency
My grandmother, like most grandmothers, was a wise woman. She had a variety of lines that she would say with regularity, and one in particular always stands out:
“Your local doctor is a generalist who knows something about a lot of things. He’ll tell you where a problem is, but you wouldn’t let him do heart surgery on you.”
In other words, when you’ve got a specific need, you should see a specialist with deep expertise in that area.
Some freelancers and agencies offer a broad range of services, which may include website design, content creation, social media management, public relations, and almost every other area of marketing imaginable.
This article will explore what content creation agencies offer, who should consider working with one, and how they differ from in-house staff or freelancers.
What Does a Content Creation Agency Do?
Before we get to who should work with an agency, let’s take a minute to look at content and how it performs.
Although it’s a relatively new term, content as a form of marketing has been around for as long as people have had something to sell. At its most basic level, it’s using words to convey the benefits of a product or service. It utilizes the power of storytelling to raise awareness and desire, to build trust, and to drive sales.
Legendary copywriter Gary Halbert created a popular newsletter in 1986—delivered by snail mail! Each installment was written on a typewriter and mailed out to recipients along with the rest of their letters. In one issue, Gary taught a business model of offering an interesting report and running classified ads to generate sales. This is the exact same model still being used today with lead magnets, except it’s now digital.
We know that content as a tactic is not new. It’s also effective: companies have found it costs 62% less than traditional marketing, and generates 5x more leads.
No wonder that 98% of B2B brands believe it justifies its cost.
Fortunately, anyone can try their hand at content creation. In fact, many businesses, small and large, create their own content. Larger companies may have internal teams dedicated to it, but it can be more challenging for smaller businesses. As such, it’s not unusual for content to be an afterthought or another thing on a person’s seemingly infinite to-do list.
A content creation agency is for businesses that recognize the need for content as a marketing channel, but need additional support in creating it. The agency is, as my grandmother would have said, a specialist that can solve the issue to a high level.
Why Hire a Content Agency?
When a company decides it needs additional resources, it has three main options:
- Hire in-house staff
- Work with freelancers
- Work with an agency
Building an internal team can be a slow and expensive process, especially if multiple people are needed. It’s a multistage process that looks something like this:
- Post a recruitment advertisement
- Wait for applications
- Filter the applications and compile a shortlist
- Conduct first-round interviews
- Evaluate the applicants
- Conduct second-stage interviews, and possibly more
- Offer a package to the preferred candidate
- Negotiate the package
- Wait for the candidate to complete their probationary period
- Onboard the candidate and teach them the company culture
- Give the new hire a period to settle in and find their feet
- Start creating content
It can take months just to reach the stage of conducting interviews. Depending on how many applicants will be interviewed, and how many rounds are required, this can also take months. Then, once you’ve found an applicant you like, you have to wait for them to join. A typical notice period is four weeks, or longer for more senior members, and it usually takes a little time for someone to settle in.
Hiring internal staff takes a long time even if things go well—but it’s not unheard of for a new hire to be a bad fit, and then the process takes even longer.
Internal staff are also the most expensive option. In addition to the salary, there are costs such as sick and vacation days, possibly benefits like healthcare and 401(k) contributions, and you’ll have to pay a fee to the recruitment company if you used one.
How Do Freelancers Compare?
Freelancers are a popular option, particularly for businesses that need additional resources occasionally but not enough to justify hiring a new team member. They are often the cheapest option, are available for ad hoc work, and can provide support almost immediately. But freelancers aren’t without their complications. There can be difficulties in paying them. They face the notorious “feast-or-famine” cycles, where there are periods of high income and ample work, followed by periods of uncertainty. Understandably, freelancers can be reluctant to turn work away, so it’s not unheard of for them to overcommit to too many projects.
Some are able to balance this commendably, but it can result in missed deadlines or sloppy work—neither of which helps your business reach its content creation goals.
Freelancers are often solo workers, too. If they become ill or have time away from work, there may not be a contingency. This can also mean that they’re not considered part of the team or culture, and they can be overlooked in team meetings and discussions. This is entirely dependent on how each business chooses to incorporate them, of course, but many see them as an execution-only resource—there to complete the tasks they’re given, rather than part of the strategy discussions.
The Agency Offering
Agencies offer a third option that sits between the two. It’s a quicker and more cost-effective solution than hiring internally, and avoids the main drawbacks to working with individual freelancers. In particular, an agency will have its own team, reducing the risk of overcommitments and delays from someone being off work.
Because the agency provides its own team, you’ll have more resources at your disposal. This might result in a higher output, or it could open up more avenues such as topic planning and the creation of additional types of content.
By choosing to work with an agency, you can expect the benefits of having an internal team—including experienced people creating your content, both saving you time and providing extra capacity—without the drawbacks of individual freelancers.
How the Process Works
The first step in the process is finding an agency that appeals to you. This will be a working partnership, so you need to be as happy with them as you would be with an internal member of staff.
Be sure to check their expertise, confirming that they know how to write B2B content effectively. You can shortlist your favorites and have meetings with each one to help make a decision.
Once you’ve chosen an agency, it’s time to get down to business. They’ll want to learn as much about your company as possible: what you do, who your audience is, your tone of voice, branding, and so on. This is also where you will discuss deliverables—what types of content they will produce for you and how often, as well as any other responsibilities. It’s important for both sides to be clear on all responsibilities from the outset, as this will avoid any confusion down the road.
The agency will have its own process for working with clients, from onboarding through to the first set of deliverables. Again, being up front about processes and expectations will help to ensure a smooth and pleasant partnership.
Possible Services an Agency Will Provide
Agencies come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Draft.dev creates written technical content aimed at reaching software developers, including handling topic planning and research as well as creating social media collateral. At the other end of the scale are “full-service” marketing agencies, which offer a wide range of marketing services typically including web design and social media management. And of course, there’s everything in between. Brafton describes itself as a “creative content marketing agency,” offering blogs, email newsletters, and video production, while SeedX creates content for industries as diverse as e-commerce stores and political campaigning.
Needless to say, it’s essential that you hire an agency that’s capable of producing what you need. That means not only the type of service, but the quality of that work too. For example, it’s no secret that developers are known to be averse to marketing, and strategies need to consider this. Therefore, not every agency will be capable of reaching developers effectively, whereas it’s what Draft.dev specializes in. On the other hand, if you want a new website and omni-channel marketing strategy, you’d need an agency that offers those.
A content creation agency can have a drastic impact on your business. By increasing the amount of content you create, you’ll reach a wider audience and have more visitors to your website, where you can turn them into leads and customers.
An agency should be able to offer more support than an individual freelancer, while also removing the risks inherent in relying on one person, such as illness, personal time, or overcommitment.
At the same time, an agency can also be a faster and cheaper solution than hiring an internal team. You pay only for agreed deliverables and not the additional costs an employee requires, such as paid sick leave, healthcare, or retirement contributions.
If your company would benefit from an agency handling your technical content, get in touch with Draft.dev and see how we can help you.
Build a Blog that Software Developers Will Read
The Technical Content Manager’s Playbook is a collection of resources you can use to manage a high-quality, technical blog:
- A template for creating content briefs
- An Airtable publishing calendar
- A technical blogging style guide