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When to Hire an In-House Content Writer vs. Content Development Firm

June 9, 2023

by Hannah Hicklen

High-quality content can help companies grow their credibility, appeal to customers, and increase brand awareness. But deciding to hire an in-house content writer or content development firm can be complicated. This article can help you decide which option is best for your business needs. 

Many growing companies are investing in content marketing. Why? Because high-quality content is a great way to grow your online presence, appeal to customers, and promote your brand. Online content, such as blogs, emails, and social media posts, can boost your image and help establish your business as an industry leader.

However, developing high-quality content that appeals to your audience can be labor-intensive. Should you hire an in-house content writer or outsource to a content development firm?

While both are able to deliver interesting and first-rate content, there are many reasons why you may want to hire one over the other.

What Types of Content Do Writers Help With? 

  • Blogs
  • Email content 
  • Press releases 
  • Social media content 
  • Ad copy 
  • Case studies
  • Whitepapers

This article breaks down the pros and cons of hiring an in-house content writer vs. a content development firm. With this information, you will be able to determine which option will be best for your business needs.

In-House content writer vs. content dev firm venn diagram

Looking to hire a content writer? Search for top-rated content development firms on Clutch, then filter by location, client ratings, and cost to find the perfect partner for your business.

In-House Content Writer 

What is an In-House Content Writer? 

Content writers specialize in creating content, usually for different online channels. Often, they studied communications, journalism, or marketing and have large portfolios of written work. With experience developing interesting and engaging content, they can help many businesses support internal and external communications.

By hiring an in-house writer, many companies hope to have more control of their brand identity and the quality of the content they produce online. 

4 Benefits of Hiring an In-House Content Writer

A great content writer will be able to deliver high-quality content that reflects your brand, but there are many more reasons why hiring an in-house team member may benefit your business. Here’s why:

A Better Understanding of Your Brand and Audience

When an in-house content writer starts working for a business, they will go through the same onboarding process as the rest of the team and become engrained in your business.

By entrenching themselves in your business processes, language, and more, they will have a better understanding of your brand identity and your audience in a way that is difficult to replicate with a content development firm.

A great content writer can use their understanding of the brand voice and identity to create content that is more likely to convert. 

Easy Cross-Team Collaboration

Some types of content may require feedback from teams other than marketing before it can be published. For instance, content that is being written specifically for potential buyers may need to be reviewed by a sales lead to make sure that messaging aligns with company goals. Other times, you may ask a content writer to ghostwrite for an executive.

In these cases, having an in-house content writer may make these collaborations easier. Depending on company size, in-house teammates are likely to know one another. People can pop into one another’s offices to ask questions or use internal communication systems to collaborate more effectively. 

More Control Over the Final Product

While content development firms will respond to feedback and make edits, costs may increase if they charge based on the time spent on a project. In-house writers, however, can make changes quickly and can continue to work on a project until it’s perfect.

It’s also easier to communicate your vision to an internal team member who you work with all the time. With better collaboration and more internal resources invested in a piece of content, you are likely to be happier with the result.

Long-Term Value 

While it can be expensive to hire in-house content writers, it makes sense financially if you’re producing a lot of content. Full-time writers can provide support for many different projects, which can help you get the most value for your buck.

The more content they create, the more cost-effective this solution will be. However, it may not be worth the expense if you don't have enough content to keep them busy.

4 Challenges of Hiring an In-House Content Writer 

While an in-house content writer can use their understanding of your business to develop content that drives conversions, it’s not the best option for every business.

Lengthy Hiring Process

Hiring an in-house content writer can take time. Companies have to create job descriptions, budget for the position, post a job opening, run background checks, interview applicants, and read through resumes and sample content.

This means that it could be months before your business is able to hire a content writer, then they will need to spend a few weeks to a few months onboarding. If you need to develop content quickly, a content development firm may be a better fit. 

Limited Scalability 

Content writing can take a lot of time and effort. So, while content writers can support a wide variety of content types, there is a limit to what they can accomplish in a given time period. If your content strategy is extensive, you may need to hire an entire team which can increase costs significantly. 

Expensive & Requires A Lot of Resources

Hiring an in-house content team can be expensive. For each person you employ, your business will need to cover the cost of hiring, their salary, benefits, training, and more. With an average salary of about $50,000 per year, the cost can add up quickly.

Additionally, your team will need to invest in content marketing tools to support team communication, SEO, keyword research, and content creation. While some of these tools are free, others have costly monthly subscriptions.

If hiring a content writer or team is still the best option for your business, be sure to thoroughly scope out their job description, your content needs, and what resources you will need to create an accurate budget.

Additional reading, ‘21 Best Content Marketing Tools for Small Businesses.’

Limited Experience 

One person, or even a small team, will have a limited skill set or limited experience. For instance, a great content writer may not be familiar with keyword research or won’t be able to develop other types of content like images and videos. Others may be great writers, but don’t know how to create a content strategy.

This means that many businesses have to hire many several professionals or someone with years of experience in the industry, both of which will be expensive.

Content development firms, on the other hand, already have well-rounded teams that can fulfill all of your content needs.

Content Development Firm

What is a Content Development Firm? 

Content development firms are service providers that specialize in creating various content types to support their client’s marketing efforts. Most of their team will be comprised of excellent web writers, but some may be able to help with content strategy, ideation, and SEO as well. In addition to creating written content, they may also be able to support some video and image creation.

Additional reading, ‘When to Hire a Freelance Content Writer vs. Agency.’

4 Benefits of Hiring a Content Development Firm 

As a team full of experienced writers and content marketers, content development firms can help grow your online marketing efforts. These are some of the biggest benefits of hiring a content marketing agency:  

Cost-Effective 

Compared to hiring an internal content team — which requires the cost of hiring, salaries, and benefits — a content development firm is significantly more affordable. Content agencies usually charge hourly rates for their services or by the project, which means that companies are paying just for the work they will receive, not overhead costs. 

Scalable 

As discussed above, a great content strategy requires consistent content development across several platforms. This means that there’s a lot of work to be done. Especially if your busines is growing and you want to invest more in content marketing, hiring a content development firm would be a great investment.

An internal team will have a limited capacity to take on these projects and it takes a long time to hire someone if you decide to scale your efforts. A content marketing agency, however, will be able to quickly bring on other team members to create more content if needed.

Additionally, if your content needs decrease — whether because your marketing strategy is pivoting or because of financial reasons — it’s easy to scale down your team as well. 

Quick Turn Around 

Hiring a content marketing team can be quick and easy, meaning that you can start reaping the benefits of content marketing right away rather than spending months on the hiring process.

More importantly, content marketing agencies have experience meeting deadlines. They can turn out high-quality content quickly so your online presence will continue to grow. 

High-Quality Content 

When investing in content marketing, you inevitably want to see results. There’s no point in building out a content marketing strategy if it isn’t going to generate results. Content development firms have created content for businesses in many industries with different audiences and different goals. They know what works and what doesn’t.

They also spend a lot of time conducting market research and keyword research in order to identify areas of opportunity for your business. Regardless of the type of content they’re developing, their work is more likely to be optimized for search (SEO), perform better on social, and generate clicks. 

4 Challenges of Hiring a Content Development Firm

If you’re planning to hire a content development firm, here are a few things to consider before making a hiring decision:

Less Understanding of Your Business

It often takes time to understand a business’s brand and audience. Especially if your business operates in a more niche industry or market, content marketers may take more time to develop a solid understanding of your brand voice or how it fits into the market.

While an in-house content writer is more likely to have a better understanding of your brand and how your business operates, a content development firm should be able to pick up the details of your business quickly if you provide the right materials when your partnership first begins. 

Project Management Can Be Challenging 

Whenever you hire an outside service provider, there is a chance that your team will struggle to communicate with theirs. Poor communication can lead to missed deadlines and opportunities, frustrations, and poor content quality. However, if you establish the channels for communication early on, you should be able to avoid project management issues. 

Varying Costs 

While content development firms are usually more affordable than hiring an internal team, it can be difficult to predict the costs of hiring a service provider. The worst thing that can happen when you hire a content development firm is being surprised by the expense.

When hiring, be explicit about your budget and discuss your needs with potential partners. Ask about how they charge for their services and ask for a cost breakdown of the services they provide. With transparency, you can avoid surprise bills.

May Produce Generic Content 

Generally, content development firms will try to incorporate your brand voice and messaging into the content they create. However, they often work quickly to product content en masse and may be working for many different clients. This may lead to a lack of creativity or variety in your content, making it feel very generic.

The good news is that most content development firms are very responsive to feedback. By reviewing and editing content regularly, you can ensure all of your content is high-quality and speaks to your audience. 

Content is Key to Growing Your Business Online; Find the Right Partner For Your Content Efforts

Written content for your business — whether it’s for social media, a blog posts, or an article – should reflect your brand voice and pass on a message to your audience. A great content writer can make sure your content stands out from the crowd and is more likely to convert.

Whether you decide to bring your content efforts in-house or hire a content development firm, be sure to consider your budget and content goals beforehand. While both are capable of helping you meet your business goals, they each have their own strengths and weaknesses when it comes to scalability, timeline, and project management.         
 

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