State of Inbound: How to Find the Right Sources for Content Creation

Posted in Marketing by Frank Cowell

Every marketing activity, including free activities, costs either money or time. As companies recognize the need for content quality and quantity, they often explore the cost/benefit analysis of content creation.

In HubSpot’s State of Inbound 2016 report, thousands of respondents worldwide identified their primary content creators:


  • 71 percent of respondents say staff members write branded content.
  • 31 percent of respondents say executives take care of content creation needs.
  • To lesser extents, other content creators include freelancers, marketing agencies, and guests.

Today, branded content comes from many sources. While relying on an outside writer may seem risky, the benefits of investing in a team of content creators can enhance overall marketing timelines and objectives.

What to Look for in a Content Creator, According to Marketers

HubSpot’s report yields some interesting trends in content creation in inbound marketing versus outbound marketing organizations: 75 percent of inbound organization writers can produce a 500-word blog post in less than three hours, while only 57 percent of outbound organization writers can do the same. Furthermore, inbound writers tend to write longer blog posts than average outbound writers. For marketing content creation, inbound marketing staffers, agencies, freelancers, and guest posters may provide better ROI than their outbound counterparts.

Intel from the report explains how, in addition to the right digital marketing approach, strong content creators tend to exhibit the following traits:

  1. Look for someone who can reword a boring passage in a new and exciting way. The individual who can reimagine your content will provide invaluable support on a content management team.
  1. Industry knowledge. Writers with industry experience often provide a faster turnaround time than those who need to conduct extensive research before diving into the project. For staff members or outside writers, look for those with a firm grasp of the company mission and the state of the industry.
  1. Time management skills. Marketing writers cannot afford to sit on an assignment for days. They must deliver a finished product within a reasonable time. Invest in writers who are willing to work within your marketing timeline.
  1. A willingness to change. Some writers cannot stand criticism or changes to their work. Strong marketing writers know when to yield to someone else’s direction. Identify writers who exhibit openness to edits, a different approach, or different wording.

Related: Get your complete copy of the State of Inbound report. Download the  report now.

When to Invest in Outside Help for Content Creation

Many organizations think they cannot invest in outside content creation because of the perceived costs. In reality, guest posts are often free, and freelancers may charge competitive rates for one-off projects here and there. Small and medium-sized businesses can invest in outside help on a case-by-case basis. For companies with larger content needs, an ongoing arrangement can also deliver ROI.

Since content serves as the meat, or substance, of digital marketing activities, every organization must consider the benefits of investing in its creation. From routine blog posts to value-added white papers, each piece of content can drive traffic to your website and convert leads.

Here are times to consider investing in outside help:

  • Your existing team does not have time to manage content creation and your organization cannot afford a full-time hire.
  • You’ve invested in SEO but need additional help with content optimization.
  • Your staff writers cannot turn around content projects in a timely manner.
  • You’re running a new promotion and need to develop specialty content.

Before you pile more writing assignments on your in-house marketers, weigh the outcomes of a writing activity with other strategic marketing activities. If in-house marketers need to engage in other ROI-building activities, outsource your content to an inbound writing team. Now is the time to weigh the costs and benefits of your current approach to content development.

For more insights into content creation differences by geography and marketing approaches, explore the full text of HubSpot’s State of Inbound 2016 report. Your organization can boost SEO tactics and other key marketing and sales goals with the right content strategy.

About Frank Cowell

Frank Cowell is President at Elevator, a digital brand strategy agency based in the San Diego, California area. He works regularly with CEOs, CMOs, and VPs of Marketing who are looking to create amazing brand experiences while driving inbound leads. A self-taught programmer with a deep understanding of technology, Frank enjoys a unique blend of brand development and marketing savvy that enables him to offer fresh perspectives on often-complex marketing concepts that he distills into actionable, easy-to-understand language. An energetic and entertaining speaker, Frank presents regularly to regional and national organizations on topics related to branding and digital marketing.
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