How to Work With B2B Content Marketing Freelancers


Many B2B SaaS companies are aggressively leveraging content marketing to attract and engage prospects.

One of the ways to generate content is to hire freelancers and contractors.

In this episode of Marketing Spark, Brooklin Nash and I talk about:

- The pros and cons of in-house content marketers and outsourced.

- How to hire contractors and freelancers.

- Gated vs. ungated content, and 

- Long-form content vs. short-term.

We also talk about Brooklin's approach to Twitter and how he's increased his follower count to 7,000 from 600 in the past year.

It's Mark Evans and you're listening to marketing spark. Depending on your point of view, content is king for many bdb marketers. Content is a core element of the marketing mix to attract, educate, engage and nurture prospects and customers, and over the past two years it has been fascinating to see many companies embrace content marketing at a time when they couldn't attend to or sponsor conferences. To get some perspective on the content marketing landscape and where it's heading, I'm excited to talk to Brooklyn Nash Or, Content Marketing Strategist and consultant. Welcome to marketing spark, Brooklyn. Hey, thanks for having me. As someone who has been immersed in the content marketing landscape and the content marketing business for many years, what's your take on what's been happening over the last couple of years as more and more brands try to embrace the value of content? Is it exceedingly crowded? HAS IT improved? HAS IT changed? Yeah, I mean it's definitely changed. I think time will tell how how it all shakes out, but I think it's what I've seen in the last like eight years I guess now it's been. That's weird is kind of these like cycles of a major focus on one area of content marketing that becoming somewhat overcrowded, and then a moment of differentiation where somebody tries something new. And I'm sure that's been happening long before I was working, working in this field. So I mean when I first started on, started out and comes in marketing, Seo was still top of the top of a priority list for pretty much anybody, not just in content marketing but marketing and general, as a way to get get audience in the door right and it's still obviously a very important part of the marketing mix, getting couple funnel take care of. But I think more and more the marketers are starting to realize that you can get a lot more out of content and just driving somebody to your site with seventeen ways to do x, Y Z type article and then try to convert them real quick with a flashy CTA button or that free trial button up top. I think I think folks of shouldn't focus on content that has more lungevity and that that that is more grounded and where buyers are really coming from. Instead of just as a top of funnel mechanism for getting some some conversions that you can then feed down the funnel. There's a lot of different directions we could go there. One of them is SEO. As someone who has spent years writing and not so much focused on the Seo side, what's the balancing APP between Seo optimized content, content written for Seo Purposes, and content that's simply written to provide insight and value? You? It's a bit of a balancing act because obviously you want your content to rank, but you don't want to waite for robots. You want to write for people. What's your take on this? Yeah, I think. I think the key is in seeen Seo for what it is, I mean search engine optimization. It's a tactic for a specific channel of content marketing. It's not a replacement for content marketing strategy. So you can, you can form a well thought out content marketing strategy that in many cases includes a heavy focus on Seo, whether it's because you have a low ACV and folks. You want lots of folks coming in the door. You don't really need to qualify them all that much. They can sign up for a free trial or it's seven dollar entry point, like a trefs hs trial, right, or it's a fremium model, whatever it is. You just want lots of people coming to the door. So Seo makes a lot of sense, but it's still just going to be a piece of the content marketing...

...puzzle, right. So I think the difference, going back to your question, like the difference between the few is those few options, is you can, you can create content that is primarily for Seo. Just try to put more thought into it than you would then. Maybe you would have liked five, six, seven, eight years ago, where the list of holes and the quick hit tips and all at like worked really well. And then on the other side you can create content that isn't necessarily for search because the volume isn't there or it's very far in the weed, so people aren't really searching for it, for it's a new area or its topical, whatever it is. But then you can still take the steps to make sure that it's optimized so that if there is some search volume around it, or if that takes up or if you come back to updating it a year from now, it's in a good place in terms of distribution or search is actually a viable distribution channel for it. So I don't know that it should ever be in either or, but it's more about looking at what the purpose is of the content you're creating and decided where to put most of your effort. It's interesting when you talk about the format of content and it has evolved, those quick hits, that link Bait type of content. In some respects people have moved away from it. What are your thoughts on short, firm versus long term long form content? So you talk to people, or you listen to people like Neo Patel, and they're advocating the value of long form content and the fact that it generates more traffic over time if especially if it's at Seo optimized. But I often think of the fact that, yeah, long form content is great, but people have such short dispension spans, we've got add and we're bouncing from one task to another. Is there a role for long form content and if so, how do you how you play it in the right way? It's a good question because it's a hard one to answer and I think, like a good marketer, I'm going to say it depends on what the type of content is. I think it's so people here long form content. I think I'm going to I'm going to assume most people are going to think of like the five thousand word deep dive pillar guide to lead generation, right, where it's a to z everything, anything and everything you need to know about lead generation, for example. I don't know that that is serving its purpose like it once was. You might be better served by splitting that out into a bunch of different articles and like glossary in trees and treating as a way to increase your own internal linking and kind of like spread wealth around how you're using the content, let alone like we re using it for that short form like social post, email, that kind of thing. But that said, I think there is a place for long form content in the sense of we're talking about a fairly complex topic or dealing with a large amount of research, ideally original research, and we need a good amount of space to talk through this in in depth, right, and that's when I think, you know, a four or five, six seven thousand word piece of content will will come into play. So again, it depends on the purpose of what you're trying to do. But there's like thre's, three hundred and fifty word articles that are ranking for high volume key words. You don't necessarily always need that three thousand word pillar page to rank for something anymore. One of the big issues facing companies that are looking to embrace content marketing is whether they should do it by what they should do an inhouse or whether they should use freelancers and contractors. There are pros and cons to both approaches. Chris Walker,...

...or very wellknown high profile marketer on Linkedin, suggest that content needs to be done in house because those are the people who truly understand the product and the customers. And there are people on the other side who suggest that if you hire the right freelancer with the right skill set, they can do what they need to do to immerse themselves in the topic and the target audiences. As a freelancer, someone who obviously provides contract services to many companies specially be to be companies. Which way works best and at one point in time does a company need to have an inhouse team versus outsource it? I mean this weird place where I am a contractor and now building an agency, so I should be advocating for outsourcing work, but there's always going to be outsource outsource work like marking teams are always going to need help with any number of things. Right, I will say I think I mostly I think I haven't. I didn't hear what Chris so exactly, but I agree with that sentiment. I can't tell you how many times over the last year then on the discovery call with a potential client and I say something along the lines of I'd love to be able to help you with that or I can't. I could, I can help you with that, and not to talk myself out of work, but I think you might be better served by getting a full time content marketing higher in place to work on that. And typically what I'm talking about when I say that, is what it sounds like Chris Walker was talking about, is getting the right strategy in place, talking to customers, collaborating very closely with product marketing to understand the pain points in the solutions that they're dealing with, opening up conversations with partners. There's just so much that goes into content marketing before you publish a single piece. I think all of those pieces are much better suited for an inhouse roll and I tell potential clients that all the time. That said, I think you can with a well formed content marketing strategy. You can be putting out a lot of content bottom a funnel until help with sales enablement top of funnel, with that that scale and with volume around SEO or social or whatever it is right. So I think that that's where agencies and freelancers can come into play. But even then I try to aim towards engagements and contracts and projects where it's working more like a partner ship and less like an outsourced task to be done right, because I'm looking for that insight that you were talking about that Christmas talking about it. I'm looking for the messaging and I'm looking value, for the value props and the buyer personas and the pain points in the customer interviews to really understand what the audience is thinking and what they need and where the gamps are. So if I can come in as an outside mentor and understand those elements, I'm going to put together much better content than if I get like a one page brief that says here's the topic, here's the audience, which is probably something vague and not super helpful, and writing something up that way. I think aiming for that partnership as you work with outside contractors, is going to benefit you the most. Yeah, I completely agree with the idea of a partnership. In fact, as a fractional CMO in, one of the things I'd advocate when working with entrepreneurs and CEOS is that you have to create a collaborative partnership. You have to be engaged, you have to be aligned and on the same page, otherwise it's not going to work. So I think that's definitely the right approach. A question moral, I guess, in tune with the services that you offer, is how should brands higher freelance and contract writers? There are so many options out there. You can use up work or fiver or contract people via Linkedin and there's lots of other content marketing services and agencies. How should brands do their research and once they've hired a writer like yourself,...

...what are the keys to on boarding them successfully? A lot of questions. I cut a couple of wrapped up in there. I think no matter what kind of relationship it is, I think referrals are always going to be in bust. I think that's I don't know that I can't think of the specific stats around this, but like world of mouth is still the best channel for any firm marketing B tob or BBC, and I think that's true for hiring freelancers and agencies as well. So I would just reach out to if you're a large company, reach out to other teams and see who they're working with and if they have bandwidths and can move over, or to people in your network, ask who they're working with and ask for referrals. Post about it if you have, you know, linkedin twitter. Just start asking. There's a few sites that facilitate that to you can look on. It's more oriented towards freelancers, but the activity there's peak freelance super path, which is started by Jimmy Daley, who is at animals large agency before. I'm not a large agency, prominent agency I should say, and that's very much more operating like a job board for both for full time and freelance content marketers. So I would recommend those types of channels. Like if you're going to go on a board, something like super path, where it's tailored, it's more community oriented and it's less of a marketplace or job board like up work. I think you're going to see better results that way. One top of I should have asked you about before launching into hiring a contract or freelance marketer is your take on gated versus on gated content. It is a huge topic was in the content marketing community, because brands are trying to do this balancing act between offering insight and value and collecting email addresses where they can follow up with them via drip marketing campaigns. Another other Martek, give any thoughts about what side of the fence that you play on or like, and your thoughts about the rule or the type of gated content that works these days, given so many content options out there. I mean, big picture, you're probably gonna have to ask somebody much smarter than me to formed opinion on this one, just because there's so much that goes into it. Like you need ad like. This is a marketing operations and almost a rebops question and like a crrow question, because the reason gated content is still a thing is because the vast majority of marketing teams are still beholden to their number one metric, mqls. To get that, they need to get their content and then qualify them and then pass on right, but ideally we're moving to this space where sales and marketing and every other team can be much more collaborative and marketing comes in a support at every stage of the funnel, versus getting into mql stage and then passing it off. But that's, like I said, that's like you to talk to marketing APPs or crow or somebody. Right. All I know is my personal preference is as a can as a buyer, is ungated, as it's a marketer like. Some companies are putting together some really interesting pieces of content. I would love to be able to access it number one easily, at number two at all, if they do the theme where you have to use your company email address and then you're just wasting everybody's telling because I'm putting I'm having to take the time to put my info in. I get intern as a lead, even though not lead in any remote sense. So I mean I typically are on the side of advising my clients to Ungate if you do need to. Still a still definitely understand the need for gating, with how lead generation works and all of that. If you're going to gate content. I would say I'm gate eighty percent of everything, including the deep dives and the guides and all that and gate just a handful of more of the tactical... the weeds, personalized type content, so things like checklists, matrix it make Driss Matrix has step by step questionnaires for self ranking things where you can take an ungated piece of content, like a guide to product analytics, for example. It's super indepth and helpful, but then gate at the very end one piece is here's your question, here to the decide what stage of maturity you are with your product analytics. Then I think you're serving in best of both worlds. It's really interesting because I think a lot of marketers, as you suggest, are dependent on mql's when it comes to assessing their performance and if they're not generating those m KLS, if they're not getting email addresses, that can be a problem. But I think part of the problem with gated content, with our many problems. One is there's so much free, ungated content out there, so any barriers to entry people are going to block at. The second is that once you provide an email address, you're essentially opening the doors for a tsunami of drip marketing. Is it just rolls in and rolls in, and I didn't ask for that. You can reach out to me once or twice, that's fine, but once you put me on a drip marketing campaign that has seems seemingly endless, then your lose any brand affinity that you may have built up. So I think that's a reality these days and we may have, as markets, may have killed the golden goose by by using Martec to essentially talk to people until they capitulate. Okay, I give up, Mul talk to you, or many people just turn off at all. So that's really, really interesting to me. I bet you. I bet twenty bucks, maybe more. Like you. ASK ANY VP or to demand gender director, somebody who looks at them. Quels are bad as m q volume goes up, conversion to meetings held goes down. So why are we focus on volume of mqls versus the right people at the right time? Yeah, and I think a lot of it comes down to attribution. It's hard for markets these days to do marketing and a lot of activity can't be attributed because a lot of it's in dark web and dark social and as a marketer, your performance is assessed by how many leads we get, how much in bound we get, how much website traffic. We yet when those are less reliable, are you just can't see it, then it does create puts a lot of pressure on marketers to justify what they're doing. So I think it's going to be a very interesting evolution in terms of how how content is delivered and how companies connect with with prospects. A lot of the people that I talked with on this podcast have very engaged linkedin presence has one of the things that I noticed when, actually one of the reasons I noticed you was that you are very active on twitter. You're very engaged and you use twitter and in a way that I use linkedin like you've made a huge investment clearly your you're very engaged with prospects and customers and I am curious about your embrace of twitter as a bebe marketer. A lot of us just gravitate to linked in. Increasingly some of us are going to tick tock. Why Twitter? How long have you been using it in that way and can you maybe talk about your approach to using twitter from a tactical perspective? Yeah, I've gotten this question before and I like I will I when I have when I have a strategy, I'll let you know, because I don't really have okay, what I what I do. I've only been on twitter for about a year, but that's not I've only been on linkedin before that, like two years. So I kind of fell into the BB social space by accident when the startup I was working at, the gross marketer, left. I was out of content at the time, so I just kind of like wanted to fill in the gaps and he had been focused on social channel, so I started focusing on more on social channels and that was that was the beginning of that a couple of years ago. Now twitter specifically, I just wanted to diversify, as to fancy of a word, but I wanted to jump on...

...a different platform besides Linkedin, because I still I mean linkedin is still bread and butter, like or I post every day where I have the most followers. But twitter just felt fun, like a fun break from honestly, Linkedin can be a little self serious sometimes and twitter can be a little overly snarky. So I feel like that being on both, you can balance its balance the two out. So I just started posting more of the like the fun, silly me me type stuff on twitter and then that has slowly bled back over and Linkedin. But I mean, I don't really have a strategy. My only strategy is like consistent posting daily, a few times a day at least, especially on twitter. And then usually it's either is it about freelancing? Great, no, if it's about freelancing, or if it's about content marketing, then it's fair game. And then some like a little broader, like work life balance and tech stuff thrown in there. That's about it. That being proactive. I'll try to respond to comments and DM's and everything that's on there. On linkedin there's a there are energy metrics. You can look at number of views, number of likes, number of comments, and it it's self validation. More traction engagement you seem to get, the more motivation you get to post on link tutor's a different, different beast. And of course there's reach tweets and there's likes. How do you assess how well you're doing on twitter? What are the metrics that you look at, whether it's data metrics or just qualitative metrics, do you do you look at it that way? I haven't been scientific about it like I probably should be, and I know that lots are well that will. They'll look at the last week of their tweets and look at the ones that I've got the most impressions and bubble down in that area and categories them and all that. I haven't. Haven't done any of that. The only metric I've really paid attention to is gaining followers there. So I've gone. It hasn't been anything super crazy, but I've gone from I think it was like six hundred two mat just over sevenzero over this last year. Wow, so I'm right. Okay, this was for a while and Agal was okay, like five six hundred new followers every month. Now, after the last couple months it's more like a thousand every month, as long as I'm tracking towards that, because it's I don't know, it is just a piece of inbound referral marketing puzzle for my own business right that. Beyond that, it's just kind of a fun way to engage with the marketing and sales community and tech community as a whole. You mentioned diversification when I ad started asking you about twitter, and what I've noticed in the last month is many marketers who spend a lot of time on Linkedin have announced, with much fan further that they're now on ticktock. Do you feel that? Do People are tired of Linkedin? Do you feel that maybe they're not getting as much engagement on Linkedin? Do you feel that perhaps they feel like there's danger and being in one trick pony? As someone who has diversified their social media presence, Jif many thoughts on how marketers maybe feeling these days about their ability to be in a few places as opposed to one? It's yeah, it's a good question. I think it becoming a little, it feels weird to say overcrowded because there's so many people on Linkedin. There's such a small minority that post every day, but it does feel like there's more than there used to be a couple of years ago. So maybe it is harder to stand out. And then the way the Lincoln Algorithm Works, like typically folks a recommend one, Max two posts a day, so you have to be a little more thoughtful about what you put up and honestly, it's sometimes it's like a crop shoet, like one day you'll spend thirty minutes putting together super detailed thread on how you do X, Y Z and it doesn't get that much engagement and then the other day you'll spend thirty seconds putting...

...out some stupid thought that you have in the shower and a like goes viral for linkedin right. So that could be a piece of it's like a little more limiting of what you can put out and especially as more and more people go the be to be creator route or they're actually looking to monetize this, it might be looking for additional channels for audience right where you can twitter, you can do five, six, seven times, Take Tock. I've no idea, but yeah, a lot. So that could be that could be a piece of it. One final question. Where can people learn about you, what you do? Where can they find you on twitter? If people want to reach out to you, where how can they do that? Twitter, Linkedin Real Brook Nash is on twitter and then if you just search for me on Linkedin, Brooklyn Nash and although speaking I of social I just put my away message. So my wife, our new director, and I are putting together our new agency for launching in June. So I'm kind of taking a hiatus from social media the next few months from posting. I'll still like jump on here and there, but I'm not posting or really checking DM so you'll be redirected to my email address. Okay, well, good luck with that. Social Media Hiatus will sell. See how successful we your in terms of yeah, trying to avoid the the rocket for a while. Yeah, we'll see. Well, thanks for being on the PODCAST. Really appreciate it, and thanks to everyone for listening to another other episode of marketing spark. If you enjoyed the conversation, leave a review, subscribe by I've a podcast and share via social media. To learn more about how I have bb SASS companies as a fractional CMO strategic advisor and coach, send an email to mark at Mark Evans dot ca a or connect with me on Linkedin. I'll talk to you, sir.

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