Outdoor Industry Marketing | Outsourcing Your Content

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?


Finding the Content Sweet Spot for Your Outdoor Industry Marketing

The Content Sweet Spot | Hitting the Mark and Becoming Effective At Outdoor Industry Marketing

Graphics By: Deanna Riley – Web & Graphic Specialist
Article By: Weston Schrank -Content Marketing Manager

Having a strong content game is difficult. Any content manager, producer, and marketer will attest to this statement if they have been in the grind for a while. It is quite easy to hit a block, seem repetitive, and can at times feel like a struggle to think of, create, and manage effective and interesting content. Luckily for content creators, freelance writers, videographers or marketers in the outdoor industry, it’s addicting for us to do our jobs as it one of our deepest passions and obsessions in life. Our own team at Stone Road Media, lives and breathes the outdoors, we know, even better WE ARE the audience, the customers, and the consumers we target. However, even with this intense drive and understanding, it can be quite easy for content to come up short and miss the mark. The fundamentals of your content should have 3 goals in general, and understanding the goals and where to place the content should be key for any brand, marketer, content producer, or freelance writer in the outdoor industry.  Missing the mark is wasting time, resources, money, and more importantly valuable content. When it comes to outdoor industry marketing, hitting the content sweet spot is demanding, but particularly effective when done correctly.

So what is the content sweet spot? It is the point between the 3 general focuses and goals of content, balancing each goal perfectly to achieve maximum effectiveness. While this might sound a little bland and honestly un-informative, it all makes sense when you have a deep understanding of what the goals of your content should be. To start, do you even know? Sure one of your goals is to drive people to the website, create leads, be successful at conversion, and drive sales. But that is only one goal, and without focusing on the other two, you will never get there.

Honestly when I was forming the idea for this blog, I was trying to figure out the best way to explain how to structure content around these goals. I know this same principle has been taught or explained for content marketing before with this, and it really is quite simple…elementary school simple, but in my mind pretty effective. It’s a 2nd grade lesson for today, a Venn diagram!

Outdoor Industry MarketingThe 3 goals of your content with the content sweet spot being the intersection at the perfect balance. In other diagrams on the subject, it’s all about dialing into the sweet spot between the consumer and your expertise, but in this niche, the outdoor industry, fishing marketing, hunting marketing, shooting and tactical marketing, we know the general topics and direction of the content we produce. This is understanding where the sweet spot is between the customer, Google search, and your website. It’s easy to only concentrate and get carried away with only one aspect, but this makes the content miss the mark at achieving your goals…if you even know what they are?


Content Goal Number 1: The Customer

Outdoor Industry Marketing“Every day your target customers are bombarded with hundreds, if not thousands, of digital advertisements. Whether via website ad space, email marketing, social media ads, or AdWords, the irrelevant nature or broad generality have made that outdoor industry consumer nearly numb to the delivery.” – Customer Profiling For Greater Customer Engagement

When it comes down to finding your brand/company’s outdoor industry marketing content sweet spot, your first goal should, and always be the customer. When Stone Road Media’s Chief Marketing Officer Jeremy Flinn wrote the above quote, he meant it, and hit the nail right on the head. This kind of hits home doesn’t it? Our passion is and will always be the outdoors, whether that is hunting or fishing, the sad reality is that we have learned (rather have literally been forced) into being numb to the delivery of outdoor industry content. Some fans and consumers would even say it has ruined the industry. Season after season, any click would take us to bland, lifeless, uninformative product focused content.

Literally it has been forced down our throats, and it makes a lot of people sick. The moment really hit home when I was discussing SEO, Google, and outdoor industry marketing, with my father over lunch…literally taking a break from writing this very article. Now remember he (an old guy) is the generation that grew up on the good ole days of print and magazines. His words were, “even if I did get on the internet and look up something on hunting or fishing, I wouldn’t click on anything, at least not the first things to come up”. The second thing he mentioned was “if I do happen to click on something, it isn’t what I thought I was going to read and a lot of stuff pops up that I don’t want to see”. While he really doesn’t operate a phone that well, and never touches a computer, he knows a surprising amount, at least something important enough to put in a blog, about content marketing in the hunting and fishing industry!

What my father was basically saying is that the consumer has learned to avoid ads, really again been forced to avoid those first (paid for) results with the green ad box. When a SERP pops up in front of him, an advantage for those that can reach the consumer with content organically. But it has to be content for the consumer…VALUABLE content. This has forced your customer to only steer to the content that they want to see and are searching for. Real information not slandered in buy this and click this…but engaging, interesting, informative and consistent content.

In this reality, your number one goal for any content produced should not be a repeat, or a broad generality like so many other blogs, videos, and sites have produced over and over again. You have to strive for the content that the consumer is really searching for, what they want to see. So what? Honestly up to this point a whole bunch of smoke has been blown without some real numbers to show you why giving consumer’s content for them is worth it. I’ll admit it, it does need some numbers.

More than half of consumers are inspired to seek out brand specific content during or after the show. Sixty-eight percent (68%) of consumers spend time reading about brands that interest them, and once found, 78% perceive a relationship between themselves and the brand after reading or watching digital content; 82% of which is positive feelings towards the brand – all of this by just giving them the content they seek (Demand Metric 2014)….  giving them custom content, on a digital platform, can reach them through other channels or devices, and give you better results, views, and loyalty right? Correct! Companies with blogs, and custom content especially in the form of video, generate 67% more leads per month (Demand Metric 2014).”  – Hunting and Fishing TV Show Marketing | How to Show More Digital Love” To Your Sponsors

Content customized for your consumer is powerful, anything less than that minimum is wasting time, resources, and money. It should be specific and be given enough power to be the authority piece on that topic. If it is not then there is no use creating it. Ask yourself or your content creators and free-lance writers if it is something you or they would read, something informative that is interesting, that gives a return to the reader. This is your content’s first goal, capturing the audience, readers, viewers, and fans.

There is an endless amount of content for your brand to create that can achieve this goal. There is always another subject or detail to dive into, and there are an endless amount of ways and combinations to make it attractive to the consumer! Here are a few ways…

Content Goal Number 2: Google Search

Outdoor Content Marketing with Google SearchAfter you have thought of a very valuable piece of content for the customer, you need to relate it to your website. While the website is your first content goal it is your last…make sense? I know it doesn’t, it barely makes sense to me why I would even rank them like that, but at the same time it is correct. The fact is that you, me, bob, or whoever, it doesn’t matter, if they are reading this article they are looking into content marketing, and have a brand or they are a content creator for a brand. So? Well you or they are already in the mindset of driving people to your/their website. While the consumers and customers are set as your first goal for your content, the first thought it your head is and will always be your website. To be effective at digital, inbound, and content marketing, you have to put the website as the first initial unspoken goal, but the last overall concrete goal. Is that clear? I didn’t think so… hopefully this will clear it up.

The Google Search is your next content goal, it is your delivery system. “No social media is my delivery system” is what you probably thought. It is initially, for a short time, but google is long term, organic, continuous, domination type lead delivery!

“Your customer will unknowingly seek your brand, TV show, company, and product or service 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, and if they do it consistently will beat out the competition. How?

The fact is that custom content alone, no matter how attractive it actually is will not go anywhere without proper optimization for the google search. Optimization? Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to be exact, and if that is new to you then read up!

More often than not, literally we see this all the time in this industry, a piece of content is slapped on YouTube, Vimeo, and/or the blog page of a website with no optimization.

A good piece of content for the consumer with no optimization is like showing up to a job fair, you have the experience, the skills, and the education, but have no name tag, no resume, and you are afraid to speak….you are basically non-existent to employers”

This about sums up the majority of outdoor industry sites and content posting.  They are non-existent to google and as a result the customer as well.  Literally hundreds of great pieces of content over trail cameras, tree stands, fishing rods, baits, guns, ammo, tips, tactics, and videos, you name it, it all has been posted for readers and viewers that never can find them. Why? They lack optimization. To start they have horrible titles, more artistic or dramatic  more often than not, or my personal favorite example of what not to post in the outdoor industry “BOB’s 180 inch 2010 buck” video on YouTube.

The title is just the start, getting that right is pretty basic and common sense. Title generally, your contents title should be exactly what your consumer is looking for! After this, sub headers, keywords, LSI keywords, density, hyperlinks, backlinks, multimedia use, content length, pictures, picture titles, and much more have to be considered and optimized. Getting that mastered takes work…I promise you.

That is the basic framework behind achieving the content goal of the “google search”, it is printing that resume, grabbing a name tag, and being vocal at your job fair…

After this syndication, advertising, and social media takes place, but other than that the content you have created is out of your hands and into the consumer’s hands. Google takes into account many things, I have no 100% idea of what it does, no one does and it is always changing, they keep marketers guessing. What we do know is that it listens to the consumer. Dwelling time or average time on page in Google Analytics, bounce rate, exit rate, all of these analytics google takes into account as should you as they are key performance indicators or KPI’s for your content.

Content Marketing KPI Goals With google lending an open ear to consumers and letting the indicators speak for themselves about the content you create, it only enforces that creating optimized content for the consumer will set the base for achieving the third goal, your website.








Content Goal 3: Your Website

Your website Content marketing goals

Your final goal is bringing it all around. You have achieved your first goals. You have captured the consumer through a top ranking organic search, you have kept them engaged with the content, and they are reading and watching the whole piece, now what? How does it benefit your site, your brand, how do you get a return on your investment?

How do we consider “success” and achieve the goal of “Your Website” for our hard work and the content we are creating and delivering?

Here is a great excerpt from a past article, something SRM’s Chief Marketing Officer, Jeremy Flinn wrote:

“If the digital, inbound, and content marketing is not directly generating dollars in the account; how can we really say we are succeeding, let alone say there is a ROI, on the inbound marketing services implemented? You’re right, at the end of the day you aren’t paying the office rent/mortgage with page views, and last time I tried, my employees were not a big fan of direct deposit of visitor sessions. OK, maybe that was a horrible attempt at digital marketing comedy, but the fact is cash is king, right? It is, but all of those KPIs lead to money in the bank! In other words, all of the indexes (in the form of KPIs) that we are tracking and working so hard to improve are the means to an end. That “end” is a customer for our service or product. The more customer visits (sessions) to a website, the more they look at the brand, services, and products (page views), and longer they are impacted by our company content and products/services (time on site) the more likely they will become a customer! In the end, the stronger your digital KPIs are, the stronger revenue flow will be. It doesn’t matter if you make revenue via advertising, eCommerce, or at retail, the bottom line is nearly 70% consumers are starting the buying process online. This initial step may be a long (or short) way from the end (buying) depending on the purchase, but it very much is true about “the first impression is everything.” Those with little unique content to engage with, will lose customers on the brand, products, and services and fall short…” – Content and Digital Marketing Results

Again this is where you can get lost or become too focused, the first and last step is your website, traffic, sessions, and in the end a ROI for the content you produce. There is a fine line to forcing the issue, in other words slandering your content up with buy this, click this, and ads. Your end goal for the content, as far as your website goal, shouldn’t be to make that reader buy that product on the spot, it should be a lasting impression that slowly creates consumers and their trust for your brand, product, or service. Converting one reader or lead out of 100 is not as valuable as creating a base of addicted consumers, there addiction being your site and your content.

The world of hunting marketing, fishing marketing, and inbound marketing is unbelievable, if you know what you are doing. No matter the size of your company in the outdoor industry, you can be competitive if you are dialed into your content sweet spot. It’s so much more than who has the most ad presence, it’s about who is the authority in their niche with the content they create. Don’t try to be everything to everyone. Focus on your consumers, optimize the content, and generate website traffic. As you dial into your content sweet spot, just remember and then record and analyze your digital marketing KPIs. Let the numbers do the talking, and lead you to greater revenue in the bank account.


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.

Content Marketing | An Outdoor Industry Content Gap Is Growing, Which Side Are You On?

Outdoor Industry Marketing | The Authoritative Gap of Hunting,
Shooting, and Fishing Content Marketing

By: Weston Schrank
Stone Road Media’s Content Marketing Manager

The tables have turned, the smallest TV, manufacturing company, or web series show can beat out the big dogs of the hunting, shooting, and fishing industry with hard work rather than large budgets. They key to this is focused on digital media and inbound marketing. The playing field is level with these considered and it is a race for the authoritative title on any given topic, product, and sector in the industry. This is a big chance for anyone in the outdoor industry.

This is old news for hunting, shooting, and fishing content marketing. This gold nugget has been discovered and out for a while, but if this is news to you, unfortunately you are already falling behind, and the gap that is forming may be too big to jump.

So what’s the latest from our friend and your foe google? The hummingbird update, the fast, agile, in, and out pivotal change. Without paying attention to this many hunting, fishing, and shooting companies and brands that were once authorities, WILL BE ousted. Those not taking notice and applying to their digital media and digital content marketing will begin to free fall in reach, audience building, audience retention,  engagement, and eventually sales.

Let’s hash this wound open again, content is king, but authority is that “higher power in the sky”, it rules the content.

Content creators, their businesses, and brands that take note of the changes will take advantage of this, and an authoritative gap will be form. This gap will not be insignificant, but enormous, and once you are ahead it could be easy to stay ahead.

Which side of this gap will you be on?

What Your Business Needs to Know

  1. What Is the Gap and Why is it Important?

The facts behind this claim is that the hummingbird has asked for a lot more from your content creators and creative sector. The latest blog, article, web purposed TV episode, or you tube video have new requirements to give them power online to reach the audience. The purpose of hummingbird? When you begin to dissect and understand it the reason is clear.

It is separating the lifeless regurgitation posts from the spot-on authority on any given subject. Did your deepest fear just come true? If your content and content marketing strategy is this, basically your entire “Blog” or “Video” content of the site is nothing new or unique, it will lack authority and you will fall behind.

Why does all this matter to your business, brand, and/or product?

The world and this industry have 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. The actual change of hummingbird and its requirements and guidelines for new content will eventually create an authoritative content gap. This will stack your content as the top results for every search a customer types, related to your business.   Those top results will place your expert content in front of the competitions, causing a free fall.

If you’re already lost with this start, it may be easier to touch up on the basics of hunting, shooting, and fishing marketing.

  1. Be a Content Marketing Expert

We see immeasurable blogs, articles, and videos that are completely lifeless. They are sloppy regurgitations of an authoritative piece from another site, slapped on their site or You Tube channel, and posted on Facebook to be subsequently ignored by the intended audience.

What did they think would happen?

Fans, customers, and Google knows who and what the experts are. Those that are not will be slapped. Every piece of content needs to be correct, well executed or written, optimized, and syndicated.

If you only knew how much was and is changing and how fast this change and gap will occur, you would be embarrassed at the current content you are putting out and how you are marketing it.

  1. Go Beyond the Content

Redesign and rethink your strategy. The first step in the creative process and to any content creation is deciding on the topic. My main duties at Stone Road Media’s content manager completely focuses on content, obviously right? But this goes far beyond the piece of content and topic. I have a need to understand every other team member’s role, our company’s goals, the clients, their brand, their objectives, their customers and audiences, and ultimately put all of it into every single piece of content I create or review.

Every piece is tailored with a specific goal. This goes beyond brand-focused content and the sale. Is the piece designed for a company’s, client’s, or brand’s prospects (audience building) or actual customers? Am I framing the piece for seekers, or for retention? It will be small and broad, or specific and detailed, in either case the piece will be from an expert, well written, and optimized. Every piece is diverse, will include altered keywords, search terms, and objectives, but all structured around the overall end goal.

  1. The Content Goes Beyond You

Once the content is teed up and out the door, it is posted and unleashed on the site and to the audience. The next crucial step is social media marketing. This is not advertising but syndication. Content that is written or executed well, by an expert, syndicated across several social sites (not just Facebook and Twitter) but a continually growing number of platforms will be noticed. Once the process is repeated (literally weekly) over and over again, the authoritative-gap will form.

You will be ahead, and stay ahead.

2016 has come with some big changes that will be noticed by this industry! Do not fall behind, every company, brand, and product has competition, the top spot for every search related to your business is key. Do you have the content to bridge the gap?

An authoritative content gap will begin to form for every topic, subject, and product in the industry. You need to ask yourself,

“Which side of the gap you will be on?”

For more information on Stone Road Media’s digital media assistance and multi-faceted team, contact us today at

Weston Schrank holds a BS in wildlife science and management. 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 the content manager for Stone Road Media’s partners.