How to shortlist and evaluate Content Writing Services: Follow this definitive guide.
Before you buy blog articles ask content creators these 3 key questions.
If you’re worried about choosing a new content writing service, you’re not alone. It sometimes seems we’re surrounded by scammers, especially for online services. And if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
But, this doesn’t mean you have to give up on outsourcing your content generation. After all, just like in any other partnership, you have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find the prince.
So, how can you figure out which writing service offers bona fide service and significant ROI … without kissing frogs? You’re about to get a checklist of 3 top tips.
But first: What do content creators promise?
Beware of (empty) promises from professional article writing services
Search engine results show pages and pages of web content writing companies. Even when you filter your search, you’ll still be left with a shortlist. Crunch time: which SEO blog writing service will you choose?
Most content creators (whether freelancers, ghost blog writers or a content writing company) compete on these features:
But, what does this mean? And how will you know which SEO blog writing service is best? It’s simple: by looking at the benefits to you.
Just as all content creators are not all equal, neither are your content needs the same as other business’s.
So, here’s what you need to know: what are they offering and how will it benefit you. But there’s one more thing, and it may be the most significant.
This is the question on everyone’s mind:
How can you be sure that a content writing service will do what they say they can?
Best article writing services? Use this checklist before you buy blog articles
Question 1: What are you prepared to pay?
First, let’s look at Pricing. Many companies make the mistake of making purchase decisions based on price and price alone. This generally goes one of 3 ways. And herein lies the first question on our checklist.
- Some want the cheapest content writing service. They want best quality articles at the lowest price. No, better quality than that. And yes, at a lower rate.
- Some want to pay a fair price for fit-for-purpose web content writing.
- Others believe that more expensive automatically means better quality, so they’re willing to pay the premium.
Easy, right? Which one are you?
Not so fast … Here’s the other thing:
What’s the content worth to you?
For example, consider this scenario:
Are human rights and working conditions a priority for your company? You should know that most content writers spend 1-2 hours writing a 500-word blog post. So, if the answer is yes, working conditions are a priority, then you are unlikely to choose a content service provider that charges below minimum wage.
Pricing is about more than money: it is about VALUE. And this means different things to each businesses. What does it mean to yours?
So, what’s the real question you should be asking before comparing blog prices?
Question 1 (revised): How does Pricing fit into our business ethos?
Secondly, let’s unpack Participation. Once again, it’s not as simple as it seems. This is how to look before you leap:
Question 2: How much of the job are you prepared to hand over?
Your level of participation in the blog writing process will depend on considerations like these.
Authenticity: Because if it doesn’t sound real, customers won’t buy it.
- Does the content writing company have subject matter experts, and does it matter? Will you need to include all resources in the brief?
- Do they know about brand voice consistency, SEO and digital marketing?
- How much of your IP are you prepared to expose to an outsourced content writing service?
- Is security top priority? Will you upload the articles inhouse?
Reputation: Because a bad reputation is bad for business. (Duh)
Incorrect data, skewed insights, bad writing will all damage your online reputation. Here’s the bad news: it takes nearly 40 good customer experiences to reverse the damage of one negative review. So, how much autonomy will you give to the content writing company, and what functions will you perform inhouse?
Sustainability: Because success is a marathon.
Here’s another thing to consider: what is your strategy? Immediate, short-term and long-term? Have you considered the impact of bringing content creation and content management inhouse? If so, perhaps your contract with the service provider should include skills transfer where they mentor your staff with the intention of bringing it inhouse.
And so first, even before you start to compare providers, define what you will need from the professional article writing service. This way, you will eliminate those services that don’t accommodate your needs.
And you won’t land up paying for services you don’t need.
Broad strokes, the options are:
- Give us a turnkey service: keyword research, writing, editing, uploading, scheduling and proofreading. We don’t have the skills, time, or interest to add relevant content to our blog every few days. Time is money.
- We’re going to keep an eye on things. It’s teamwork and we’re going to participate. So, you do some of it (like writing and uploading) and we’ll do some of it (like management and review).
- Forget about it. We will have to give up too much to outsource our content creation: we’ll do it inhouse.
So, what’s the real question you should be asking before comparing content creation vendors?
Question 2 (revised): What services do we really need?
And this brings us to the last question in this trio:
Question 3: How do you know the content writing service can do what they say they can?
You already know how this goes: nobody wants to be tied to the wrong partner. It can prove expensive in so many ways. What business can afford to lose money, time, or reputation?
There are 2 sides to this coin:
1. How to do a performance check?
On the one hand, there are those who talk the walk. On the other there are those who actually walk the walk.
So, where do we look to check which ones you’ve got on your shortlist? How can you know whether they can do what they say they can? Use these tips to spot problems:
- Does the content writing have a blog with relevant content? But, most of all, are there errors in the web copy? If they don’t know (or care) enough to get their own content right, will they care about yours?
- Is there a free trial article? It’s one thing to look at samples of previously written articles, and another to review an article written for your business specifically. Content creators who know about digital marketing and branding will have written those articles according to client specifications and brand voice. Your specs will be different: You may find bucket brigade too horrible for words; you may need more opinion and fewer hard facts..
So, a trial article is a valuable thing.
The caveat (of course there’s one): It’s not all about YOU.
Speaking from a content writing company’s perspective, if everything is on the Client’s terms, how is the service provider protecting their business? We are very cautious when offering a free trial article because we’ve been burnt. Imagine writing a free 2000-word article, only to have the prospective client grab-and-run.
Our compromise: we offer a free 350-word trial article. These give prospective clients a fair idea that we can write SEO content on your chosen topic, for your particular target audience, at the right stage of the sales funnel, and in your brand voice.
Nobody gets hurt.
2. How to do a credibility check?
When you’re assessing whether the content writing company is legit, start with the obvious. Are they for real?
- Good reviews and testimonials: are there any?
- Social media: is the company active on platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook?
- Complaints and comments on social media: A professional article writing service will engage to make things right.
- Client list: is there anyone you can contact to verify?
- Complaints and warnings on business and consumer watchdog sites.
We used to have physical location on this checklist, but this isn’t relevant now with shelter in place, lockdown, curfew and other work from home safety protocols. In our case, Two Red Crows Brand Storytelling has never had a brick and mortar office.
Nope, not once in 10 years.
I’ve often suggested to the team that we get offices for our local writers, but the resistance is robust. If you know anything about writers, you’ll know that they have their own ideas about working hours and workwear and, even, going out in public.
So, what’s the real question you should be asking before committing to a content writing service?
Question 3 (revised): Can we try-before-we-buy?
How to get what you need from a Content Writing Company?
Shortlist and evaluate Content Writing Services using these 3 criteria:
- How does pricing fit into our business ethos?
- What services do we really need?
- Can we try-before-we-buy?
Focus on your specialty; focus on your business. Leave the business of writing excellent blogs to the excellent blog writers. Now that you know how to choose, you can separate the good from the bad and the ugly.
You’re good to GO!
Thank you for reading.