Content marketplaces connect organizations that need content — written, visual or video — with people who can produce it quickly. For companies that find it difficult to produce content consistently in-house, a content marketplace can help fill the gap.
These platforms help organizations commission content from a wide range of content producers, either directly or through the platform host. Some examples include Zerys, Ebyline, Visual.ly and NewsCred.
Like any relationship with a writer, working with a content marketplace takes some effort. Here are five tips for how to use a content marketplace effectively.
The more information you can share about what you want, the better. Be specific about your audience, your goal for the piece, any sources to use or avoid, phrases you love or hate and more.
“One of the most important things about using external marketplaces is providing very clear creative briefs and brand elements upfront,” says Chris Bolman, director of marketing at Percolate. His organization can help set up style guidelines, governing such details as fonts, colors, logos and messaging, but it’s important to communicate your objectives, expectations, creative requirements and as much context as possible in your initial creative brief. “Let the marketplace handle the execution and fulfillment, but until you have a proven process that you know delivers quality output don’t relinquish too much creative control or provide vague specs,” he says.
Questions will arise during the production process, and being responsive can help things move along. Most of these exchanges have a built-in communications platform that they encourage or require you to use. If the work has a short turnaround time, make yourself available to promptly answer questions.
“If you work with us, you should expect to interact with the writer the same way you would with any valued employee,” says Sam Slaughter of Contently, a tech and content services platform. “They’ll be professional and understanding of your goals, but also have ideas about how things should be done. The key is understanding the different languages that writers and marketers speak. They both have the same goal—creating a compelling story that paints the brand in a positive light—but they talk about it in different ways.”
Turnaround time depends on the project. A short blog post based only on Internet research could be finished in a day or less. Longer pieces or those that require detailed reporting will take much longer. Clarify expectations upfront to ensure everyone is on the same page with the expected schedule.
The information you’re sharing at the front end will help save time on the back end, says Tal Siach, co-founder and CMO of Visual.ly, which provides visual content to clients. The more you can clarify what you want, the better. “A detailed creative brief that the clients take time to fill out, like the one clients fill out at Visually, can help close the project in much less time,” he says.
Have a Strategy
Content marketplaces can be a particularly good resource for lots of low-intensity content, when you know exactly what you want and can communicate that very clearly. You still need to be a good editor, because the pay systems for these platforms often encourage volume of words and speed over quality.
Deeper strategy and planning still belongs in-house, Slaughter says. When their clients run into challenges, it’s often because they lack a concrete content strategy with clear goals and ways to measure those goals. “People have the what and the how, and but often have difficulty with the why,” he says. Handing off content production can free up resources for putting together a strong strategy.
Don’t be afraid to share your strategy with the marketplace team to ensure that the content they produce fits in your big picture. “Let your designer know who the content is for and how you’ll be distributing it to give your designer some insight,” Siach says.
Manage it Carefully
Content marketplaces can give you a big pool of people with immediate availability to produce content. If you know exactly what you want, you can get lots of content at a good price. But if giving feedback via written communication isn’t your strength, you may have trouble getting what you want or need.
“Interacting with creatives is very important,” Siach says. “Talk about improvements, not mistakes when giving feedback.”
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