How to Save 4 Hours on Every Piece of Content You Create

How to Save 4 Hours on Every Piece of Content You Create

In other words, I spent most of my time coaxing brands like Vogue, Glamour, and GQ to embrace online publishing—and it wasn’t always easy. If you spent all your hours finding external contributors and editing their work, you wouldn’t have time to create sales-enablement content, analyze engagement data, develop a long-term content strategy, or even just write your own stories. Finding the right contributors On your own: 2 hours If you’re starting from scratch, expect to spend a few hours, at least, finding new freelancers. Journalists don’t typically put “good at interviewing mean people” on their LinkedIn profiles. We read their work, consider their publication titles, put them through a training course, and run their published work through our Tone Analyzer technology to ensure they are a good match for your brand voice. Maybe you can get started right away, or maybe the writer emails you an answer like this: “Sounds good, but I’m in Alaska for my brother-in-law’s wedding and working on another project, so I can’t start for two weeks. With Contently: 15 minutes Your brand editor will either assign the story directly to a writer on your team—who has been trained to accept or reject the project within 24 hours—or open it up to a team of relevant writers who are each eager to get first dibs. With Contently: 15 minutes Editing is a process. Depending on how many freelancers you use or pieces of content you produce, this commitment quickly adds up. Once your contributor submits a draft, the rate gets paid instantly through PayPal, which handles tax logistics.

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Prior to joining Contently, I worked on digital strategy for some of the world’s top magazines. In other words, I spent most of my time coaxing brands like Vogue, Glamour, and GQ to embrace online publishing—and it wasn’t always easy.

In order to convince the old-school print executives to adopt a digital strategy, I first had to learn how their departments created content. And one of the most surprising moments was when I realized that their editorial processes were incredibly laborious.

It was an insane amount of work. While many employees produced content inside of the “Vogue House,” executives still hired freelancers to write in-depth features for Vogue. Commissioning just a few pieces of freelance content each month was so time-consuming that many magazines had a whole job dedicated to coordinating them. A commissioning editor would typically spend about 160 hours a month wrangling freelancers to produce—at a maximum—six articles.

That observation stuck with me.

Today, if you’re a marketer trying to run a content team, that time commitment would decimate your operation. If you spent all your hours finding external contributors and editing their work, you wouldn’t have time to create sales-enablement content, analyze engagement data, develop a long-term content strategy, or even just write your own stories.

But that commissioning editor function is still important. Unless you have a budget big enough to hire a team of in-house writers, freelancers are an essential part of your content operation. At Contently, we think it’s possible to handle all of those responsibilities on your own, as long as you invest in the right marketing technology.

To show you how this breaks down on a per-story basis, I decided to take a closer look at how much time marketers and editors are committing to their freelancers. Here’s a comparison of many hours it takes you to finish a story with a freelancer on your own versus how long it takes using Contently.

Finding the right contributors

On your own: 2 hours

If you’re starting from scratch, expect to spend a few hours, at least, finding new freelancers.

Certain veteran marketers may be able to pull out a Rolodex of writer friends and ask if any are up for writing a niche brand story. But if that’s not the case, you’ll likely have to put out some calls on social channels and do research online for writers who have written about the same topics that your brand covers.

The big challenge here won’t be finding talented writers. It’ll really come down to identifying freelancers (since many will be staff writers unable to do work on the side) who are open to content marketing (not all journalists are interested in working for brands). What if, for instance, you need an experienced journalist who can play nice in an interview with your stern CFO? Journalists don’t typically put “good at interviewing mean people” on their LinkedIn profiles.

With Contently: 15 minutes

Our intake process includes a data-driven content strategy that’s ready for you on day one. Part of that includes curating a team of contributors from our freelance network who have the right expertise to manage any request, no matter how specific.

All of these contributors have already been reviewed before they’re added to your team. Our talent team puts these freelancers through four rounds of rigorous vetting. We read their work, consider their publication titles, put them through a training course, and run their published work through our Tone Analyzer technology to ensure they are a good match for your brand voice. Depending on your industry, we’ve likely worked with them before and have performance data to further corroborate our decisions.

You just have to look through the list and start thinking about what stories you want to produce.

Defining the story and checking availability

On your own: 1 hour*

The better the story brief, the…

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