I've noticed that there have been quite a few threads recently about outsourcing content creation. As a matter of fact I just posted a reply to another thread on the topic. After I finished typing it up I realized that it might be of some use to people in general so I decided to create a post on the topic myself. Hopefully this will help some folks out.
So, here goes...
You should definately outsource all the "menial" stuff in your business, Actually you should EVENTUALLY outsource everything you can, right up to and including yourself. That's how you create a real business that's sellable.
One thing I get tired of hearing is people complaining, saying "I hired a writer and got a bunch of unusable crap back! Outsourcing sucks!!!".
Look, the fact is you get out of it what you put into it. You can't hire a writer who speaks english as a 3rd language, turn them loose with nothing more than a list of keywords, and expect to get back "War and Peace". It just aint gonna happen.
Just like any other aspect of business there is a specific process to follow to get the best results.
For example, I almost never hear of people getting screwed over on outsourced content when they follow some simple steps. Here's a brief overview.
1. Provide your writer with an outline of the content you want them to create. Do some research on the topic yourself first and make an outline for the finished product. Then when you hire your writer you turn over the outline as well as any links to good resources they can use in further research of the topic.
That way the writer doesn't have to guess at the direction you want your content to go. It's plainly spelled out for them in the outline and they know where to look for more information.
This one step alone goes a LONG way toward you getting a finished product that talks about what you want. Plus it gives you a good bargaining position with the writer since you've already done a good chunk of the work. Especially since the research involved is what takes up the biggest chunk of time.
2. Create a document that describes EXACTLY how you expect the finished product to be presented. I'm talking about stuff like font size, margins etc...
3. Find a good writer. This part can take a while to weed out the trash replies you'll get. But asking them to see a "portfolio" of stuff they've written for other people is a good start.
Also, you might consider asking for a small sample of their writing on a topic you choose. That way they have to write it for you themselves instead of sending you a "writing sample" that was produced by someone else entirely. Making them produce some "off the cuff" copy for you will give you an idea of the writers real skills.
4. Manage the writer. Be sure to stay in touch with them, and make sure they send you updates of the work as they go along. That way if they start to get off track you can catch it earlier instead of finding out when they send you the final draft.
5. Rewrites. Make sure you specify in the agreement you make that you get the right to require an unlimited number of rewrites until you're satisfied. Don't be unreasonable, but you do want to get a final product that you can use. Just like they want to get paid on time.
Speaking of which...
6. Keep your writer happy! Look, once you've found a good writer you want them to happily work with you again. Good writers are worth their weight in gold! Pay them on time, give them bonuses, have them do more work for you to keep them busy and here's the most novel idea of all.
Tell them thank you and you appreciate the good work they're doing for you. Everybody likes recognition for doing a good job, especially people who just went through this creative process only to turn their work over to someone else who gets to take the credit and glory!
It's about more than money to some writers, especially the good ones!
There's obviously more to the process and this is just a general idea of the steps involved. But it should get you started anyway.
Hope that helps,