Outsourcing Content Curation and Marketing in the Outdoor Industry
Based on the moves made by successful businesses in 2017, content and the lasting positive effects it has on search still is a huge part of a well rounded digital presence. In 2018, you could be asking yourself “what efforts should I make for content this year?”. One part of this effort will be (at least it should be) content curation and content marketing. Creation and marketing of high quality, relevant, and purposeful content in the form of video, photo, and writing that drives consumers to profitable consumer action. This content curation and marketing can be fulfilled by either internally hiring a content marketing manager or outsourcing content to an agency or freelance writers. Now arrives the question…” should you hire internally, or outsource”?
Your Brand’s Debate
Now as your company debates the question of whether or not you should outsource content or hire an internal content marketer, many comments will be brought up in favor, but more likely against outsourcing content. Hiring a content marketing manager gives you control of a well-connected source you can readily reach, communicate, and work with. Above all I feel like the main argument in favor of hiring internally is a consistent brand voice. While these arguments are made in favor of hiring internally, outsourcing content will likely be belittled with comments centered on lack of brand voice, expenses, lack of expertise, lack of internal company communication, and most of all lack of trust from business to business or business to individual (depending on if you go with outsourcing to agency or individual freelance outdoor writers). While all of these are valid to a degree, my aim here is to settle the debate once and for all.
As the outdoor industry navigates the treacherous waters after last year’s DGA, as a brand and company in this industry you should realize that you are already starting the content marketing race late. For more than three years now many top outdoor industry personalities, influencers, hunting product giants, and creative brands have been adapting and perfecting their content marketing efforts. Their success is a testimonial to the validity of the DGA and why it arrived last year. With that being said, will hiring internally or outsourcing catch your company up, yield similar results to the pioneers of the industry, or outcompete these already established digital authorities?
Pros and Cons
Before we dive into the most important aspect of this argument, the numbers, it’s a good idea for your business to dive into the pros and cons of both options. These will simplify the debate but also create some progress to a logical decision before looking at the numbers.
Internal Content Marketing Manager
- Control – and a lot better line of communication is a great argument for an internal hire. They are a part of weekly or daily internal meetings, sensitive or confidential information, and would be already apart of new product or service development.
- Brand Voice – again one the biggest arguments for hiring a content marketing manager internally would be a unified and consistent brand voice. Essentially It is much easier to for an internal content marketing manager to be consistent with voice in relation to information, products, or services. Think about it simply as the manager being able to comfortably use “we” in content, instead of a freelance writer speaking only to readers.
- Less Expensive – considering what you know or think content curation and marketing is. An internal hire, depending on the skill set and experience level, is most likely less expensive than hiring an agency or freelance individual on a flexible schedule. However, this comes at a cost to your content. I have seen many internal content creators focus on only their given skill set or area of interest, leaving a gap in marketing the content as a whole.
- Tolerance – you could have the worst product or service in the industry compared to your competitors. It is a harsh reality but hiring internally will only create a continuation of the problem. Hiring internally means his/her salary is based on tolerating and accepting the product or service and marketing it. Therefore, most if not all of the content will lack the excitement and life.
- Creativity – being in an office environment….no matter how “creative”, “radical”, or “progressively open” you feel it may be will dull creativity. Why? Minds in an office or internal environment think alike. Decisions and marketing efforts become funneled, and it can be easy for a creative content marketing manager to lose creativity over time. This also comes down to other employee’s suppression of ideas, content, and campaigns that are outside the box…as it is not the “norm” of the internal environment.
Freelance Outdoor Writers or Agency
- Creativity – flows from a creative content agency or freelance writer. They are the outsiders looking in. Chances are they have perceived your brand for years, they are the consumers, giving them a unique and valuable perspective. This also creates diversity, something that could bring new life into your brand and even your brand’s voice.
- Experience – is hard to come by. I don’t mean writing ability or even hunting/fishing experience. Normally this sets freelancers aside, but agencies bring more experience to the table as a whole. Not only writing and content creation, but an agency could bring a skillset to the table that could generate twice or three times as much profitable consumer action than an internal hire. They also continually work with other brands in the industry and have direct access to trends, fluctuations, and other content in the industry.
- More Bang for your Buck – …literally. The experience and skill set that comes from outsourcing content to an agency could also create relationship and infrastructure for other needs. These could be social media marketing, web/graphic design, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), video production, analytics, and a host of other services most marketing agencies or a well-rounded individual freelancer could offer.
- Communication – is absolutely the number one architect or destroyer of a brand’s success when it comes to outsourcing content. I have seen brands go from a top content authority in this industry to the very bottom over just a few short months…what happened? Communication stopped! Communication, to a level of an open phone line at any time, is often needed to create, syndicate, and market content freely and successfully.
- Expensive – hourly or contracted agencies and freelancers are one of the first reasons brand hire internally. Good agencies or freelance writers know what their value is worth to you. However, they normally bring a broader and more experienced skill set to the table to create more effective content and ROI’s on content.
The Needed Skillset
I brought up the terms experience and skill set over and over again in the pro’s and con’s section, and for good reason. Now, obviously, I am leaning you towards making a decision to hire an agency for internal content marketing efforts. Most of the time the majority of business owners and marketers agree that this is a great route, especially if you have limited resources. However, I also know that one key hire could contain all of the skills set’s necessary to fulfill what an agency could…but that would be golden goose in terms of this industry. You won’t come by a marketer that can not only write or manage writing over numerous outdoor industry topics, or niche specific topics, that can also post, optimize (SEO), syndicate, and market that content on social media channels…at least in a way that doesn’t look like a train wreck. Optimization of content alone using SEO tactics can double if not triple content’s ability to drive traffic and drive profitable consumer action. Most content creators/marketers might have SEO on their resume but do they have the numbers or case studies to prove their understanding?
I can’t argue that the right individual that has the skillset, experience, knowledge base, organization, and drive could be a smarter investment for your brand. Again, this golden goose most likely has his/her own brand or company already and is not floating around looking for a job. However, I know that an agency is a lot more likely to have this skill set and experience covered. Checks and balances between individuals and departments in an agency prevent such train wrecks that could result from lacking in one area of content marketing.
Numbers to Prove Agency Success
While I can’t directly attest to a successful content marketing strategy from an internal hire, I can report impressive results from businesses that chose to outsource content to Stone Road Media (SRM). One client…let’s just name “Outdoor Industry TV Brand A” employs many SRM services including content, SEO, and syndication. Without giving away to much confidential information or industry secrets, the following numbers give you glimpse of what a successful agency can do for your brand and business. Over the course of multiple year relationships, “Outdoor Industry TV Brand A” grew both page views and sessions by around 70% (70% increase for 2017 vs 2016 and 2016 vs 2015). Organic traffic increased around 167% year over year from 2015 vs 2016 and again from 2016 vs 2017, an impressive increase considering page views are pushing close to 3 million!
Number’s from Stone Road Media’s 2018 ATA Show Content Marketing Kit.
This is a testament to the ability of an agency to fulfill a brand’s need for content marketing. Above all, it can show you what you are missing out on by either not implementing your own content marketing strategy or what your internal hire might not be achieving.
By any means, this blog and others like it on this website should be a comparison to how you approach digital marketing in the years to come. With the rest of the Outdoor Industry pushing forward into the digital marketing realm, how long will you wait and fall behind?
The Growing Role of Outdoor Freelance Writers | Outdoor Industry Jobs
Graphic By: Deanna Riley – Web & Graphic Specialist
Article By: Weston Schrank – Content Strategist and Manager
Outdoor industry jobs in freelance writing, or hunting/fishing freelance writers are professionals of a dying art. Would you agree or disagree…really is it?
I would like to start off this article with an excerpt from one of our most recent blogs.
“Depending on your passion, you waited for that hunting and fishing magazine each and every month. You would reserve a spot in the calendar, even a chunk of time after dinner but before bed, a time for just you and the latest hunting and fishing articles…This pull and addiction was mastered by print writers, as we know to have been very successful at evoking emotional connection to the story and topic through detailed descriptions, delicate vocabulary, and well-formed article structure” – Hunting and Fishing Marketing | Appealing to Google and the Customer with Multimedia
I remember as a kid (I’m young so I know you remember) reading magazine article after magazine article, diving into adventures that I knew I may never come across in my life. However, that didn’t mean I didn’t experience it! Through the writers account, and flowing river of text, I was placed into that moment, whether it was a high elevation sheep hunt, salty deep sea fishing trip, or thrilling encounter with a grizzly while camping in the backcountry. The writer’s ability to pull and addict the reader to the content was undoubtedly an art form possessed by a handful of skilled outdoorsmen that secured their roles as a key in outdoor industry jobs.
There is no doubt that the world we live in today is going digital, nearly every piece on our blog has reiterated this old news. But will print, our coveted magazines, suffer? The bigger question for any readers diving into this topic and article is, regardless if print suffers, “what is the new role being developed into for outdoor industry freelance writers?” Now wait for it…the even larger question trumping your concerns is, “how the industry, and outdoor industry jobs will incorporate these hunting and fishing freelance writers moving in the current direction it is?”
The first and basic answer to any of these question is the general response. The direction of the outdoor industry, the hunting industry, and the fishing industry is and will continue to be content marketing. It always has been, from the magazines to the TV shows, but this movement is catching up to the outside world of digital content marketing. Again we have been repeating this over and over again in each one of our blogs, so whether you are a brand or company, or a content creator/freelance writer, it is time to take notice and learn what and how to change!
Opportunities for Outdoor Industry Freelance Writers
A popular question of the outdoor industry world of hunting and fishing, is how to get a job in the outdoor industry. While countless “regurgitated” articles and blogs will tell you to “start a hunting or fishing show” or “become a pro staff member” in order to obtain outdoor industry jobs, they are all missing the point of what the outdoor industry companies, brands, and potential employers need…real, authentic, authoritative content that doesn’t sell the product, just gives the reader and consumer what he/she wants!
Outdoor freelance writers again have mastered this, it is evident in any magazine article, and the problem however, is transitioning to the changing industry. If you are a skilled writer and an outdoorsmen with the passion and know how you are in luck! Now what I am about to reveal is key, this is why there is such a big opportunity present, and it is knocking on your door! The outdoor industry currently does not know how to value a freelance writer…do you know why that statement is true? Because the majority of the industry doesn’t know how to use the content they produce or currently hold.
“The world and this industry has gone digital, the most significant sentence of this article is this. “Your customer will seek you out online, so you need to give them exactly what they are searching for.” It is the premise behind the BE SEEN. BE FOUND. BE DIFFERENT of Stone Road Media. Customers will educate themselves before the buy, whether that buy is online or in the store. Those businesses and brands that give the information, detail, expert opinion, enjoyment, and influential piece on the subjects and topics related to their goals and objectives will beat out the competition… Newly created content will eventually create an authoritative content gap for a business that dives into and employs content creators. This will stack the content as the top results for every search a consumer types, related to your business. Those top results will place your expert content in front of the competitions, causing a free fall for the competition.” – Outdoor Industry Content Marketing | The Authoritative Content Gap
In a nut shell, as the outdoor industry recognizes the need for custom, fresh, informative, interesting, but optimized content, they will turn to content creators, and the first ones targeted will be freelance writers! This will be a massive opening for outdoor industry jobs and a big opportunity for anyone looking into how to get a job in the outdoor industry. Knowing that freelance writers possess the skills to bring a story, a “how to”, a “tips and tactics” basically anything a reader would search for and desire, will make it easy for business and brands in the industry to snatch them up.
Now this is not all good news, in fact it’s the opposite. If you are already an established freelance writer for many magazines, and are currently or about to dive into online articles and blogs for hunting and fishing websites, then your career and opportunity at seizing any of these outdoor industry jobs could be at risk.
This literally might be the first time this information has been presented online for our industry, I’ll just go ahead and claim that it is in confidence…”hunting and fishing print/magazine articles and the freelance writers that create them are not online worthy alone.”…Now let’s just agree to wait for the dust to settle on that bomb. It just blew up the strategy behind many “authority” sites in this industry. It is the same principle behind why you just can’t upload TV videos and content online and expect them to be found and reach the customers.
The reason behind why a freelance writer or an article that has been created for print/magazine cannot just be slapped onto a site and expected to be effective is that it does not meet all the criteria to be so. While a great opportunity is present and in front of both outdoor industry jobs, industry brands and outdoor industry freelance writers, it cannot be grasped without knowing the criteria for effective online content.
How to Develop Your Content and Yourself to Be Effective Online
The time is now to train and make yourself and your content into an effective asset for outdoor industry brands. If you are asking the question, “how to get a job in the outdoor industry”, this advice would be key to focus on. In doing this, a freelance writer in the hunting and fishing industry will have to recognize the differences between print content and digital content. Mastering this will concrete your ability to grasp these openings and these outdoor industry jobs.
While the magazine brought your text and images to the readers, you will be responsible for attracting and engaging customers. Sure whatever company or brand in the industry has a wide and numerous audience and social media platform, but that only takes content so far. The other half of the battle in creating web content is optimizing it for organic growth and appeal to google! Now how is this different than print, well it starts with the title. While a print or magazine title would be dramatic, fun, or extremely clever, your online content title will need to be informative and to the point! Tell google and the consumer what it is. This is just the start of optimization. You will need to dive into more content marketing strategy and basics, but to put it lightly, you need to optimize your title, header, meta data, target a keyword, target search terms, insert relative and helpful links, write the correct length and density for all mentioned above and then, and only then write the content around those pieces. Sound confusing and hard? It is and isn’t, but once you get the hang of it you are very valuable to the Outdoor Industry!
One piece of print and magazine content creation that should stick with you is being an authority on the subject. If you can’t write an authoritative, top notch piece on a subject you have no business writing it or being featured in the magazine. Think of google as the magazine editor, they will know whether or not you are an authority by either what the content is composed of, or by the consumer or reader’s reaction. Knowing what you are talking about and presenting extremely valuable, informative, and interesting content is the first step before writing or optimizing. If your content is spot on, useful, and engaging and optimized well, you and the outdoor industry employer will be rewarded with a top rank and organic traffic.
How to Write for Outdoor Industry Companies and Businesses
The real trick of the trade for outdoor industry freelance writers to master and understand is generating valuable content. Sure you have to be pleasing to google and the customer, but that is something that should already be under an online writer’s belt. The real struggle for this growing prospect is producing something valuable to the business or company. What are your goals with each and every piece of content? Each piece should not only be interesting and informative, but it should drive people to the site and online “shop”, “store”, and ecommerce sites, be appealing to google for organic traffic, and be substantial enough to tell consumers to come often. While these goals might seem simple, it can be very easy for outdoor industry freelance writers to get lost along the way. There is a fine line between producing valuable content to google and the consumer, even the slightest lean to one of those goals skews the results negatively. Adding in the task to be valuable and impactful for the business or company creates a very small target. Writing a very well thought out and created piece of content that is optimized, interesting, well written, but valuable to the promotion and sale of a business in the outdoor industry is an art!
While it might seem outdoor industry freelance writers are employed in a dying career, it is the exact opposite. Unfortunately grasping the newly found opportunities when it comes to how to get a job in the outdoor industry, and outdoor industry jobs for writers, means adjusting and adapting the writing for online use. Once this difficult mission is harnessed however, the outdoor freelance writer becomes an indispensable tool. Outdoor content marketing will be, and is developing, as the future and focal point of the outdoor industry. If you are an outdoor freelance writer that possess the skills to produce unique, informative, but online worthy content and are looking for growing opportunities then consider Stone Road Media.
We are looking for these capable outdoor freelance writers that eat, sleep, and breathe hunting, fishing, and shooting/tactical to join our team at Stone Road Media. If you are interested in joining SRM’s front running digital media assistance and multi-faceted team that has harnessed content production, management, and marketing, contact us today, email@example.com.
Graphic: Deanna Riley grew up in western PA with a love for the outdoors, which lead to her drive to capture the essence of what’s around us in her nature photography and design work. She holds a BFA in Graphic Design, and is excellent at web, logo, and print design as well as social media.
Article: Weston Schrank is Stone Road Media’s Digital Content Manager. He has turned the obsession of outdoors and hunting, expertise in wildlife and land management, and understanding of specialized content creation and SEO into an excelling and devoted career as a content manager and strategist, benefitting the company’s many outdoor industry partners, and outdoor freelance writers.
Hunting, Shooting, and Fishing Marketing | Social Media Marketing for the Outdoor Industry
By: Jared Prusia: Social Media and SEO Specialist / Weston Schrank: SRM Content Manager
Chances are you have noticed the reactions by now. You know… those little faces next to the like button that came with Facebook’s latest update! Your latest Facebook social post now includes reaction buttons that include everything from a like to one heart showing “Love” and/or four emoji faces that include “Haha”, “Wow”, “Sad”, and “Angry”. For years Facebook users pleaded for a dislike button, these 6 reactions is what they decided to give us. So what does this mean for Facebook users?
Why should your business or brand care?
Stone Road Media has set itself apart as an industry leader by designing and implementing numerous outdoor social media strategies and also by producing high quality outdoor content for a living, so trust us when we say “ take notice.” The new Facebook reactions will not only increase the total number of responses, but increase engagement as well by offering the user a means to better express their feelings about your post. Scrolling through on the mobile device or desktop shows you the 3 most popular reactions your content has drawn from the crowd, hovering and clicking on the reactions shows you more in depth numbers of each reaction. Besides getting more overall click volume, your posts, especially controversial ones, will produce more engagement in way of comments. Think about how many times you’ve seen a comment string go on for days about a controversial topic when all users could do like the post… Now users have the opportunity to express a huge variety of emotions toward a post with the click of a button. Scary right?
This change means more engagement potential across all of Facebook, but this potential will remain untapped without the right type of content and social posts. Audience building, and audience retaining content, posted correctly will pull and produce strong engagement. In the world of social media marketing, QUALITY content is king. Anyone can produce content, and almost anyone can produce quality content once or twice. What separates successful inbound and social media marketers from the rest of the want-to-be marketers in the outdoor industry, or any industry for that matter, is a true connection to content being produced, a means of having that content seen by your target audience, and a willingness to OUTWORK EVERYONE!
What do they really mean?
These reactions are fun and playful at first, but they have a very real purpose for your content, posts, and how your audience engages with your brand. Your audience is human, the emoji faces are humanoid by design, and every emotion is up for interpretation, or misinterpretation. The “Haha” face may mean the content is funny, or it may mean “seriously this again?”, “who cares”, “Really?” The same is true with the “Wow” emoji. While the “Like”, “Love”, “Sad”, and “Angry” are direct points, the “Haha” and “Wow” may be more difficult to understand. As is true with anything that starts out as a good thing, these features will be used, abused, and manipulated to mean things you may have not thought possible. In response to several comments regarding the simplicity of the reaction buttons…Just wait. These five new reactions may be more than your social posts are prepared to handle. Expect adversity in the response received by your social posts, listen to what is being said, and adapt your content and social media strategy accordingly. This is where it gets tricky. Anyone can listen, very few can implement accurate and purposeful change.
How to use them to your advantage
The new Facebook reactions can and will benefit Facebook, and the businesses that strive to get the most out of their social media marketing. A data, content, personality, or show type company can now tap into greater insights into what interests the users and customer. If done correctly slightly tweaked or tilted content can be used to adjust statuses and content posts to receive more reactions, more engagement, and eventually more impressions per post.
The “Old World” of the Outdoor Industry is well understood to be behind the rapidly expanding millennials that are driving the marketing in todays “New World” true business world. While there are some who have embraced the digital front, the majority of companies and brands in this industry have not. Growing a business and brand steadily, tracking all the benefits of the digital world, and knowing your target customer will lead to succeed in this industry. Again, these reactions give us more power for audience building and audience retaining content, not just those who are already buying, but more importantly those who will be buying. The world of advertising is changing rapidly. Don’t miss out!
For more information on Stone Road Media’s digital media assistance, contact us today at firstname.lastname@example.org.