External content creators, part three: accountability

Part of a series (which started here) on why companies are reluctant to use external content creators, and how to mitigate those companies’ concerns.

The concern

In his article, “The Truth About Trusting External Content Partners,” Skyword CEO Andrew Wheeler highlighted this concern:

We’ll lose accountability and quality control

By GeorgeLouis at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=32926303

Think about this from the perspective of the company. Often (but not always) companies consider using external help because they are overloaded with work. (There’s another reason to use external help, which I’ll address in the fourth post in this series.) The boss is already having a tough enough time getting the worker bees to generate quality content in such a high-pressure situation. The boss is going to be really concerned about some outsider, not under the boss’ thumb. How will the boss control the outsider?

Many bosses are not like this, but even the most enlightened ones will have a concern about how an outsider that they don’t know is going to meet the quality standards of the employees that they do know.

What Andrew Wheeler said

When addressing this concern, Wheeler starts out by presenting an uncomfortable truth.

I’ve found this concern usually resonates with teams for whom process and quality control are already sore spots. Either no content creation infrastructure exists, the current structure is too rigid to scale, or the structure is chaotic and there’s fear that an external partner will exacerbate the problem.

From https://www.skyword.com/contentstandard/the-truth-about-trusting-external-content-partners/

Because Skyword is in the business of connecting freelancers with companies needing their services, one of the things that Skyword does is to institute its own process to ensure the maintenance of accountability and quality control. Wheeler’s article describes four key elements that any process should include: documented guidelines, good briefs, dedicated gatekeepers, and good content management technology.

What I say

Every project has a process. Perhaps the process may be chaotic, but it’s a process. It’s better to institute a good one. When Bredemarket takes on a project, there are three ways to implement a process.

  1. If I am sent out to a project by a service such as Skyword, SMA, or Dragonfly Editorial, often the service does what Skyword does and institutes its own process.
  2. There are some cases in which the client has a mature process, and in that case I just slot myself into the client’s existing process.
  3. In other cases, most notably with very small companies, I institute a process myself. When used, my content creation process has a simple order of steps, starting with the kickoff described in a prior post in this series.

Regardless of where the process comes from, the goal is the same: to institute accountability and quality control over the final product.

We’re almost to the finish line. We have one more concern to address: It’s faster/easier to just do it ourselves.


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