By John Doe December 11 2017

7 Essential Questions To Ask Content Creation Companies

It’s a widely held belief nowadays that content is king. For businesses and entrepreneurs, there is a big push on getting blogs out to their target markets. But it’s also become much more time consuming, which is why content creation companies are in such high demand. These companies do the work for you, allowing you to focus on your areas of expertise.

It’s not just a case of picking the first company you find though. They need to be the right fit for you, and have the ability to produce meaningful, high-quality work. Here are some key questions you should ask content creation companies when outsourcing your writing.

  1. How do you test your writers?

People don’t buy a car without taking it for a test drive, while businesses don’t choose an office space without taking a look around first. The same should apply here. A good content creation company will have examined every single writer on their books before taking them on. That gives you – the end client – the comfort of knowing you’re being dealt with by a true professional.

Ask them what sort of test they use for their writers and how long it is. It doesn’t need to be hugely intensive but should be long enough for their grammar and quality to become clear.

What to look out for

Always choose companies that are fully committed to good grammar and punctuation. A content creation company that prides itself on good grammar will hire writers of a similar mentality. They should be able to say that every writer on their books passed their tests with a 100% score on this count.

Avoid companies that use the same test for all of their new writers. This means it’s easier for people to sign up to them even if they’ve failed, as when they come back for a retest, they will already know what to expect. If the company is truly committed to hiring the best, their screening process should reflect this.

How we do it

At The Content Panel, we don’t allow just anyone to write for us. Potential writers need to complete a multiple-choice test with regards to grammar and then send a sample piece of work on a topic we decide. They also have to do this within a time limit, which prevents them from seeking help and separates the good from the great.

  1. How big is your pool of writers?

While quality is more important than quantity, you want to choose a company with several high-class writers. This is because companies with only a few writers will take longer to turn your work around. We all want to get personal attention, and if your project is being written by someone juggling multiple others, the quality may suffer.

What to look out for

Try and avoid content creation companies that can’t even give you a rough estimate of their writers. The chances are, they have a very small number and are trying to avoid telling you this.

Look for a company that specializes in a variety of industries. If they have a diverse set of writers, it increases the chances of finding someone who is a good match for your specific needs.

How we do it

At The Content Panel, we provide a running count of how many writers we have, as well as how many pieces of work we’ve done for our clients. We believe in transparency so this is readily available on our website for anyone to see.

In addition, we ask our writers to tell us their personal passions as well as where they may currently work. This adds another layer to our expertise, which benefits clients. For example, a writer may work in insurance but also spend a lot of their spare time blogging about health and fitness. If they pass our tests, we will then be able to put them forward to clients in both of those spaces.

  1. Where are your writers from?

If you’re reading this, then the chances are that your business language is English. Therefore your content will need to be written by somebody who has a perfect grasp of the language.

Nowadays, many content creation companies have writers who aren’t native English speakers, as they are cheaper to hire. But you need to weigh up the cost savings against the damage to your brand if the content is poorly written. Alternatively, you may end up having to make a lot of amends to the work yourself, to make it readable for an English audience. This is a big drain on your time, which negates the whole point of partnering with a content creation company.

What to look out for

The company you use should be able to tell you whether they only use native English speakers, or if they have a mix. This shouldn’t be confused with where the writers are actually based though – in today’s world, people can write from anywhere.

Some companies think they can get away with it if their non-native writers use apps like Google Translate – but this only gives very literal translations. Anybody who is a native English speaker – like most of your target audience – will pick up on this straight away. Therefore you always want your work done by somebody with perfect English.

How we do it

The vast majority of our writers are either from the UK or the USA, with the rest generally made up from Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. As these are all countries that have English as the main business language, it allows our writers to easily understand the client and project they have been given. We also have some digital ‘nomads’ on our books – writers who live elsewhere. Crucially though, every one of them is a native English speaker.

  1. How will writers be chosen for me?

Simply hiring a writer who has expertise in your industry isn’t always enough. Every brand has a specific tone of voice. Whether you’re corporate or quirky, it needs to come across in your content. The last thing you want is for your work to be given to a writer who is unable to match that tone of voice. This will lead to multiple amends and rewrites, which isn’t good for anybody.

What to look out for

Ask the company for some samples based on your specific industry and tone of voice. They are unlikely to have client work available to show, as they won’t have ownership of it, but they should provide samples upon request.

This has the added advantage of showing how much attention they’re really paying to you. Have they listened to everything you’ve told them about your business? Have they researched your website? If they come back with a sample that is a good fit, then you know you’re in capable hands.

How we do it

Every single prospective client has the opportunity to view a sample related to their needs, free of charge. As well as looking at our writers’ previous pieces of work, we make use of AI technology. This scans the work of our writers with a high degree of speed and accuracy. We are then able to see who has the tone of voice which is best suited to our clients, as well as the relevant experience in their industry.

  1. Is the content going to be original?

Some content creation companies have a habit of reselling content they have already done for other clients, to save time. This is especially the case if the topic is somewhat generic. Alternatively, their writers may be sending over heavily plagiarized work. Both of these things are illegal and can end up causing you great difficulties. Therefore you should always ask for a guarantee that you’ll only receive original content.

What to look out for

The content creation company should have a built-in plagiarism checker. This is an automated tool that weeds out copycat articles – and they should tell you exactly which one they use. If they don’t tell you, then this is a red flag.

They should also be able to assure you of 100% ownership of all submitted work. This will stop them from using the same piece of work with a competitor. Having this guarantee is critical, so make sure you get it in writing.

How we do it

We use a plagiarism checker called Copyscape, which is Google approved, and run every piece of work through this before we send to clients. This means that if even a single sentence has been copied, we can get it amended first.

We also have a full commitment that our clients own all the rights to the work submitted. Writers are asked to agree to this before they join us so there is never any confusion – they aren’t even allowed to use the work for their own personal portfolios.

  1. How do I make edits?

This is all about user experience. Does your content creation company want to make life as easy as possible for you? Ideally, you would never need to make any edits, but if this is required, you want the process to be as simple as possible.

There is also a cost issue – some companies charge per amend, while some may offer a fixed number for free with an additional charge beyond these.

What to look out for

If you are being offered amends via email only, be aware that it is a difficult process. It takes longer for you to explain, and you may find yourself sending multiple emails for just one set of amends.

How we do it

At The Content Panel, we offer an unlimited amount of amendments free of charge. We believe clients should get work that is perfect for them, so we will never charge extra for edit requests.

We also have a built-in annotation system that lets clients highlight text and write comments to the writer. This completely removes the hassle of adding attachments to emails, or having to store multiple documents on your computer. Everything is on the system, making life easy for both client and writer.

  1. What will you do if I don’t like the content?

Again, in an ideal world, you would be happy with every piece of content sent your way. However, there may be times where, even after amendments, the work doesn’t quite meet your expectations. At the end of the day, you’re a paying customer so should be treated as such by your content creation company. Be sure to ask them what their policies are on rejections; it will tell you a lot about their level of service, and also how confident they are in their writers’ ability to get things right.

What to look out for

Always check the small print if there is any. Some companies may say that if they have spent a certain amount of time on your project, they will charge you regardless of whether you accepted the work. You should also see how willing they are to offer you a rewrite from someone else. If you link this to one of the earlier points, you’ll recognize that a company with a bigger pool of writers is more likely to offer this.

How we do it

Like all good content creation companies, we are confident that our work will hit the mark, so we receive very few rejections. On the occasions we do though, our policy is simple. Clients get a rewrite free of charge, and as mentioned before, the number of amendments that can be requested are unlimited.

These are just some of the questions you need to bear in mind. Outsourcing your content writing is a smart and common thing to do – but everything which goes out under your name is a reflection of your brand. Therefore you need to invest a good amount of time in finding the right partner. A bit of hard work upfront will make all the difference in the long run.