How to choose a content agency
The right content development partner can make your work life happier and easier.
Think about your content strategy. Go ahead. Take a moment. Now, how do you feel? Excited? Overwhelmed?
If thinking about content development causes you to tense up, grit your teeth, or squeak a few NSFW words, then it’s time to take a breather.
Bringing on a content development partner could give you some relief. With a content agency, you can produce more materials at a higher quality and with less stress. The trick is finding the right partner.
A content partner needs the right skills and experience for the job, of course, but they should also be honest, responsive, flexible, and easy to work with. Make a list of your requirements—or work through our suggestions below.
Pick a content agency with the right skills and experience for the job. Choose one who is honest, responsive, and easy to work with. The right content agency can make your work life happier and easier.
How can an outsourced partner support your content strategy?
Does content development feel like an “inside job”? Something only staff should do? Sure, nobody knows your company better. But an outside perspective can help you develop fresh, enjoyable content. Outsourced partners can also suggest new ways to use and promote your communications.
Content development is a big, time-consuming job. Break it down into smaller phases to find your speed bumps—areas where work gets stalled or plans start to fall apart. Then, imagine what it would be like if those tasks went away, off to a trusted partner who loved them and did a good job completing them.
See? Instant joy.
You can enlist a content agency for any stage of the process. A content agency can help you with:
- Content strategy by developing communications goals, timelines, and plans
- Copywriting and copy development tasks (e.g., creating outlines, conducting research, and interviewing experts)
- Copy editing initial drafts for correct grammar and punctuation, as well as clarity and readability
- Fact-checking your work against source materials or original research
- Layout and design, to make your written work look amazing and capture the attention it deserves
- Proofreading to make sure nothing slipped past your internal reviewers during previous editing cycles or design
Once you understand where your content headaches are coming from, you can start to find the best content agency to partner with.
Should you outsource to a content agency or a freelancer?
Where can you find good content help? It depends on how much time you’re willing to spend managing external talent.
Freelancers are pretty easy to find. But things get complicated when you have to keep track of multiple freelancers’ availability, rates, and strengths. One project could require a handful of freelancers if you need writing, editing, and design services (or if the project is just really big). Lining up freelancers and coordinating with them individually may become its own job.
To simplify the process, hire a content agency. Content agencies can deliver all the skills you’re looking for with less effort.
Compared to freelancers, a content agency like Dragonfly offers several advantages:
- With a content agency, you can staff an entire project with one phone call or email. An agency will match your project with writers, editors, and designers who can support your communication from start to finish.
- It’s more efficient to work with one partner, and fewer details can fall through the cracks.
- A firm can provide structure and processes to help big projects run smoothly.
- An agency will understand downstream activities—like printing, mailing, and publishing—and will tightly coordinate all the required actions.
- Agencies have more quality control processes than freelancers. Anyone who is assigned to your work has been vetted, and their work will be reviewed before it comes back to you.
- Content companies invest in employee development and training. Agency writers, editors, and designers will be current on best practices, platform guidelines, and industry trends.
- If your content needs grow or change over time, an agency can scale with you. With an agency’s support, productivity isn’t tied to a single individual—or even your own staff’s capacity.
Remember, outsourcing content services should make your life easier. Choose the path that’s simplest to manage and that brings the best results.
What is a full-service content creation agency?
A full-service content agency is designed to support every step of the process—including content strategy development, writing, editing, layout, and print coordination.
Some agencies operate in niche worlds, where they produce only one kind of deliverable, like writing or design. Or maybe they support only one type of writing, like proposals. If your business communication needs are more diverse, consider a full-service content partner.
There are benefits to using the same content service across your business. For example, the language in your sales materials will be consistent with what’s written on your website and in your email campaigns and thought leadership articles. Similarly, executive messaging and employee communications will feel connected.
A full-service content agency can bring consistency and quality to all of your communications, regardless of audience, format, or the department that produces them.
How do you find the perfect partner for your content strategy?
So how do you pick the right partner? Check three big boxes:
- Look for specialized experience, especially if you’re creating content in a unique or complicated industry.
- Ask for work samples that may be similar to your content needs.
- Talk to references. When you speak with current and former clients, ask them about the end product and their experience working with the agency.
Then, add requirements that are meaningful to your organization or content needs. Some content managers consider:
- Professional memberships, affiliations, or sponsorships
- Business status, such as woman- or minority-owned
- Active security clearances or past military experience
- Locations or time zones of team members, or their ability to work onsite
- Awards and external recognition
If everything “looks good on paper,” take the next step. Most content agencies don’t require long-term relationships. If you find an agency you like, try them out.
You’ll know you’ve found a good business partner if they:
- Ask good questions up front to make sure the request matches your goals, timeline, and budget
- Add value to the project by making suggestions—but defer to your authority. Good content agencies won’t push their preferences onto your project, and they’ll respond positively to feedback and changes.
- Are easygoing—they’re able to roll with the punches when it comes to changes in schedule and direction
- Produce quality work on time and within the limits you define (e.g., page count, word count, or brand guidelines)
- Are honest. They let you know gently if your expectations are unrealistic and offer constructive advice if they feel a project is headed in the wrong direction.
- Communicate well in general
- Are helpful and friendly—working with them makes your day better and leaves you with a smile
With a good content development partnership, you can create more content with less stress.
Is your B2B content too complicated for an agency?
Not every agency is equipped to handle complicated content. B2B, scientific, and medical writing should be handled by content agencies with experience in those spaces.
Why does industry expertise matter?
- Readers can tell when a layperson is writing to them. To connect with specialized audiences, communications must be technically accurate, written in the language an industry insider is used to.
- Writers and editors can have more productive and meaningful conversations with subject matter experts if they’re familiar with the topic or industry.
- With the right experience, editors can catch technical issues and improve the clarity, consistency, and quality of your communications overall.
- Writers and editors can help authors present their ideas clearly—without affecting accuracy. Technical topics need to be communicated clearly to secure grant funding, research dollars, or new business.
- In some fields, like the pharmaceutical and medical industries, companies can be fined for errors in their communications.
Agencies that specialize in complex B2B writing, editing, and design won’t be scared off by lengthy reference lists, technical language, or complex ideas. They’ll know how to handle them, and they’ll do so with expert care.
Let us help with your content development to-do list. Dragonfly can help you plan, write, edit, and design your most important communications. (And the ones you just don’t want to do.)
Position yourself with industry leaders
What’s the big, hairy, audacious goal your company is trying to achieve? You’re probably aiming pretty high, right? (That is, nobody sets out to be the world’s “okayest” anything.)
So put yourself in good company as you rise to the top. Pick a content development partner who demonstrates professional leadership in their field.
For a content agency, that could include:
- Leadership in professional organizations
- Credentials or certifications
- Invitations to teach or speak at conferences
- Awards or external recognition
These standards can help you narrow down a content agency if you’re not sure who to pick. But the best way to test a partner is to give them a try. Their work should speak for itself.
“You guys did a great job! I like the flow and the messaging. I sent you a lot of information and it is good to see it all come together in the final product. I’m doing well in part because of your efforts. Thanks to everyone on the Dragonfly team for always giving your best.”
— Booz Allen Hamilton
How can we help?
We’re excited to write, edit, and design for you.