The idea of getting unique content written for your firm and delivered to your inbox in 24 hours seems too good to be true. So it comes as no great shock to any of us that when you want to get marketing done, websites like People Per Hour and Upwork appear incredibly attractive.
The internet is a one-stop-shop for pretty much every need. Need a new laptop? It’s yours tomorrow. Last minute birthday gift for your Dad’s Uncle’s poodle? Amazon it to your house tonight. Impressed your date with dinner, but forgot about dessert? Pretend you’re in the kitchen doing the dishes and get on Deliveroo STAT – I recommend a box of Krispy Kreme. A dozen should do it. Having a freelancer create something from scratch and deliver it in a day feeds your inner gratification monster just the same as driving 12 original glazed direct to your front door.
But here’s the thing. I’ve worked as a freelancer on People Per Hour. And if you approached me for freelance work now (with hindsight on my side) I’d urge you not to hire me.
Shortcuts in marketing lead to long delays
Early on in J.R.R Tolkien’s ‘The Fellowship of the Ring’, the Hobbits argue about the safest way to travel without being seen by the Black Riders. It’s at this point in the novel that Pippin delivers a wisdom bomb that can be applied to many important areas of our lives, both business and personal – ‘Short cuts make long delays’.
Here’s a similar story a little further away from Hobbiton, and a little closer to home. Once upon a time, I was a professional freelancer. Now that I’ve been on the other side of the fence, I’d like to share a little of my experience with you to help you understand why the reality of this option isn’t so attractive:
1. I had to work really hard to know my client’s brand
Imagine being asked to give a best man’s speech to a packed ballroom of people ready to be moved to tears… just minutes after meeting the groom.
That’s kind of what it’s like when you try to build a trusted emotional connection with a target audience just 48 hours after being introduced to a business for the first time. When you sign up for monthly marketing at PF, you gain a Client Marketing Manager who is dedicated to knowing who you are, the people you serve and the frustrations and desires of those people. Not to mention the way you communicate, how you like to present yourself, the imagery you like (and really don’t like), your favourite colours, your year on year goals, what’s working, what isn’t, how many sugars you like in your coffee. And it can take a little time to build this relationship of course, which is exactly the point.
Granted, I always did my very best to try create a shortcut – I’d send long questionnaires, spend hours of ‘overtime’ deep diving into a client’s website and socials. But remember, short cuts make long delays. A quick one-off task will get a job done, but won’t be conducive to continuous brand growth, because…
2. It might work out once, but what about next time?
You might get lucky. You might find a freelancer who really knows their stuff. Who goes above and beyond to study your market, work to your style, write with your tone of voice, with your values at heart. But what about the next time you want a piece of work done? Unless you’ve snapped up that freelancer on a retainer, you’re either going to have to pray that you fit into their schedule, or you’re going to begrudgingly struggle through the process of choosing a new person (and hope that they’re just as talented, and that the content passes off as consistent).
Tip: One of the ways you can address this is by documenting your style, tone of voice, logo guidelines etc.
3. Your freelancer isn’t being paid to tell you what you really need
Both People Per Hour and Upwork are bidding sites. You post a job, and a pool of freelancers bid for the chance to complete it. The freelancer you choose will be chuffed they won the bid, and will complete the work to the best of their ability. But it’s very unlikely your chosen freelancer is going to stop, step back, take a look at your business and ask “Hang on, have you thought about your brand first?”.
This is precisely why we created our Marketing Map. We know that you want results, but we also know that the best way to get there is to address the core marketing elements first. To have identified the people you want to reach and serve, and to make sure it’s love at first (web)site when they find you. To be living and breathing your core values on and offline.
Nine times out of ten, a freelancer who really wants the work isn’t going to stop and say “Writing this one-off blog isn’t going to provide you the return you expect on your investment”. And that honesty and strategy-oriented re-direction is what you really need.
Freelancers are awesome people, and freelance work isn’t to be frowned upon. But before you go down the bidding site rabbit hole ask yourself, what is it you really want from your marketing? Chances are, if you’re like any of the accountants we’ve worked with already, you don’t want someone to simply write you a blog. You want:
- A brand that feels like you, that your audience really relates to
- A website that communicates everything you do, that you can be proud of
- To feel in control of leads coming in and know that you have the processes to wow them
Have you had a good or bad experience with outsourcing to freelancers? Share your experience with other accountants in the PF Marketing community.