In a few short years, content marketing has gone from being digital marketing’s “new kid on the block” to one of the most widely-adopted promotional strategies in use today.

The Content Marketing Institute’s 2017 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends reports show how far content marketing has spread: 91% of participating B2B marketers use content marketing (of the 9% that aren’t already doing so, 54% plan to add the tactic in 2018). 86% of B2C marketing respondents have active content strategies in place.

This broad adoption should come as no surprise, given that:

  • Content marketing produces three times more leads than paid search marketing, according to a survey by Kapost and Eloqua.
  • “60% of people are inspired to seek out a product after reading content about it,” per data from Demand Metric.
  • DemandGen data suggests that nearly seven in 10 B2B buyers claim to increasingly rely on content when researching purchasing decisions.

Yet, despite these compelling reasons, many businesses struggle to implement content marketing campaigns—let alone do so effectively. A survey of 400 U.S. industry leaders by The Creative Group reveals why: 45% of advertising and marketing executive participants say they struggle to find and attract quality creative content team members.

Your ability to partner with the right talent can mean the difference between a campaign that takes off and one that never gets off the ground. One of the first decisions you’ll have to make as a content marketing leader is whether that talent will join your in-house team or contract with you on a freelance basis.

How to Decide Between In-House vs. Freelance

An increasing number of companies are turning to freelance content creators. That’s because this contingent talent:

  • Offers greater flexibility to engage on a per-project basis, rather than committing to long-term or ongoing work you may not need.
  • Enables you to select the ideal freelancer for each project, drawing on a worldwide talent base, rather than limiting your search to your geographic area.
  • Can be more cost effective to partner with, as they can often be brought on as 1099 contractors.

However, working with freelancers isn’t appropriate in all circumstances. There may be situations where hiring in-house employees is a better option for your needs.

Planning Your Content Team’s Structure

Let’s consider two companies. Both are enterprise software providers, but their needs are quite different.

Company A is launching a new content marketing initiative, and needs a marketing associate with experience managing all aspects of a campaign for a long-term engagement.

Since the median salary for marketing associates is $44,375 per year—and since we can conservatively estimate that basic benefits will add just over 30% to this amount—the cost to make this hire will be roughly $57,688 per year (not including associated overhead expenses).

Company B, on the other hand, has an employee like this in place already. Instead, they need a blogger with industry expertise to create a series of 10 articles for use in a marketing campaign.

Many freelance content writers are available for between $30-50 per hour. Assuming that the writer needs two hours to complete each post, the total cost of the project will be around $800—an amount that does not justify the cost of recruiting and onboarding an in-house marketer.

Certainly, Company B would be better off hiring a freelance blogger, as the nature of their short-term project makes going through a full hiring process unnecessary (not to mention, costly).

However, while Company A may benefit from bringing on a full-time, in-house content marketer who could take on everything from strategy to execution, they may also choose to pursue a hybrid solution. For example, they might:

  • Bring on a handful of freelancers, including a contract-based strategist and multiple writers to create the suggested collateral. If the work required by the position can be achieved in fewer hours than a full-time schedule involves, this may be a cost-effective solution.
  • Train an existing full-time employee to handle the strategy side of the campaign, while delegating to a few freelance content creators.
  • Hire a full-time content strategist to work internally, but share content creation work across a freelance agency or group of freelance writers.

Each of these solutions would allow Company A to maintain flexibility, while also enabling them to tap into a broader base of talent than may be possible in their local area.

A few calculations will make the decision clear. By breaking out each role required and comparing the estimated time requirements relative to the costs of bringing on corresponding freelancers—while also considering the pros and cons of having or not having in-house staff—Company A will be able to choose the talent strategy that makes the most sense.

How Instapage Handles Content Creation

As you can see from the examples above, many different variables must be considered when determining whether to work with in-house or freelance content talent.

But enough with the hypotheticals. To help your company navigate these questions, let’s look at one example of how one of today’s top technology companies manages their content production.

Instapage CEO Tyson Quick uses a distributed team of freelance writers from Moldova, Canada, and Portugal to support the growth of his landing page creation tool. Hiring globally enables him to secure the best talent for each project, while also taking advantage of cost savings that can be reinvested into other marketing campaigns.

According to Quick, “It makes sense, not only from a financial perspective but also from a quality perspective—sometimes, we just can’t find the talent we need locally. It really makes our content manager more effective because now he can produce 3X more content every single week while maintaining our high quality standards.”

Curious about how other companies utilize freelancers? Read about a Fortune 1000 company that saw 40% in cost savings by scaling their content production with freelancers on Upwork.

Putting It All Together

Hopefully, this article has you thinking about the best approach for managing your company’s content creation requirements—whether that’s bringing on in-house talent, contracting solely with freelancers, or embracing a hybrid solution.

However, if it’s left you with more questions than answers, check out Upwork’s free ebook, The Content Marketer’s Surefire Strategy for Success.