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In-house Staff, Freelance Writer or SEO Agency: What's the Best Choice for Creating Your Content?

You can't turn a page these days -- or should we say 'scroll down a screen' -- without reading about the importance of content marketing and search engine optimization (SEO).

There's been a sea change in digital marketing over the last 10 years, and much of that has been driven by the almighty Google and the proliferation of social media.

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Every business strives to rank toward the top of Search Engine Results Pages (SERPS) in response to searchers' queries, and every business wants to attract the attention of potential customers through their various social media feeds.

"Content" is the latest marketing magic bullet to achieve both. Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing meaningful, relevant and regular content to attract and retain defined audiences. It often takes the form of SEO-rich blogs and web content, but it also includes white papers, e-books, webinars, infographics, videos and any other content of perceived value to the user.

Given the huge uptick in the demand for good content, an estimated 62% of companies now outsource their content marketing. Traditionally, companies that could afford to would either use in-house writing staff or contract with a marketing agency. Now, with more people working remotely and an increased demand for quality writers, they often turn to freelance writers.

With these three viable options for content creation, which is the best choice for you?

Factors to Consider

Your decision will likely boil down to these four factors:

  • Budget and Time Frame: How much of your marketing budget are you planning to set aside for content development? Are your needs short-term or long-term? Are you comfortable with a long-term contract or commitment, or would you prefer to stay flexible?

  • Scope of Work: Have you already defined your brand, developed a content strategy and agreed upon tactics, or do you need help with that? Does the content writer need to create a set of pieces you've already defined, or do you need a multi-disciplinary team to write, design, place media and analyze performance?

  • Type of Content Needed: What's the nature of your business and what kind of understanding will the writer need to deliver meaningful content? Is it information that can be researched or learned, or does the writer need to have a deep knowledge of the subject matter?

  • Control: What type of relationship is ideal? Do you want to be able to pick up the phone and get an answer immediately, or are you okay working through an account manager? How quickly do you need projects to be completed?

With a basic understanding of what factors you'll use to make your decision, here are how the three options stack up.

Marketing Agency


  • Can help you both create the strategy and implement it

  • Can handle a wide variety of projects (e.g., design, media buys, PR, writing)

  • Likely to have strong understanding of SEO and marketing strategies


  • Most costly option, even if you only hire them for content development

  • Subject matter expertise will vary, especially as many agencies rely on college graduates to form their marketing team

  • Usually requires a long-term contract

  • You'll have less control (and access) than with in-house or freelance writers

  • Generally, longer production timelines

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Freelance Writer


  • Generally, will have strong writing skills

  • Enables you to create a "virtual" team, whenever you need it

  • More flexible, direct communication, personal relationship

  • Enables you to hand select a writer based on characteristics important to you (e.g., business experience, subject matter knowledge)

  • Likely to have good grasp on SEO


  • May not have business experience, even if they understand your product or are a good writer (e.g., the person is a novelist or creative writer)

  • May not be able to keep up with the volume of the work you require

  • May not be able to perform other marketing tasks, such as buying the ads where your content will be placed

In-House Staffing


  • Will know your products and subject matter well

  • Likely understands how the content fits into the broader context of your marketing efforts

  • May be able to perform other marketing functions (e.g., CRM management)


  • Ongoing operating expense, plus overhead for insurance, equipment, space, etc.

  • May or may not be a high caliber of writer if not originally hired for a content creation role

  • May not be an SEO expert, even if a good writer

If you're considering hiring a freelance writer to develop innovative content for your business, visit to contact me or view my portfolio.

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