How To Identify The Right Content Outsourcing Partner

How To Identify The Right Content Outsourcing Partner

Businesses face the constant challenge of producing high-quality, engaging content to stay ahead in the competitive landscape. The solution lies in partnering with a skilled content creator who can elevate your brand’s voice and reach.

However, selecting the right partner requires a nuanced approach.

It’s not just about finding a service provider but discovering a collaborator who understands the balance between proven content marketing techniques and the need for unique, stand-out ideas.

This blend ensures your content not only resonates with your audience but also sets your brand apart in a crowded market.

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Why is the right content outsourcing partner so important to brands?

The right content outsourcing partner is pivotal for brands because it directly influences their ability to engage, convert, and retain customers in a digital landscape where content is king.

Such a partner brings to the table specialized skills, industry insights, and a fresh perspective that can transform generic brand messages into compelling narratives that resonate with the target audience. By aligning with a content creator who not only understands the nuances of the brand’s industry but also possesses the creativity to innovate within it, brands can consistently produce high-quality, SEO-optimized content that boosts visibility in search engine rankings, enhances user experience, and establishes thought leadership.

Furthermore, this collaboration allows brands to scale their content production efficiently without compromising quality, enabling them to keep pace with market demands and consumer expectations.

Ultimately, investing in the right content outsourcing partnership is not just about outsourcing tasks; it’s about strategically amplifying a brand’s voice and expanding its reach in an ever-evolving digital ecosystem.

Proven and unusual ideas to get the right content outsourcing partner

Securing the right content outsourcing partner demands a strategic blend of conventional methods and offbeat approaches, reflecting my “Unusual By Strategy” forte and mandate. This unique combination ensures brands not only align with partners who have a proven track record but also those who bring a fresh, innovative perspective to the table.

Start by evaluating potential partners through traditional metrics such as portfolio quality, client testimonials, and industry experience. Then, venture into unconventional territory by seeking partners who demonstrate creative problem-solving abilities, such as those willing to conduct a pilot project that challenges the norms of content creation or those who show a deep understanding of emerging trends and technologies.

This dual approach allows brands to benefit from reliable expertise while also infusing their content strategy with novel ideas that capture audience attention and set the brand apart.

It’s about finding a partner who respects time-tested methods but thrives on pushing boundaries, ensuring content strategies are not just effective but remarkably distinctive.

8 significant steps to identify the right content outsourcing partner

Leveraging my 40+ years’ experience as a Brand Content Strategist with a penchant for the unusual, I have given 8 ideas below that incorporate time-tested approaches to identify the right content outsourcing partner, along with unusual twists to make these ideas work even harder. These strategies blend conventional wisdom with innovative tactics, ensuring that businesses not only connect with a content partner who aligns with their brand’s ethos and objectives but also one who can bring a creative edge to the table.

This approach guarantees that your content stands out in a saturated market, engaging your audience in a meaningful way and driving your brand’s success forward.

How To Identify The Right Content Outsourcing Partner (Infographic)

1. Assess their content marketing expertise

Evaluating a potential content outsourcing partner’s expertise in content marketing is crucial, as it directly impacts the quality and effectiveness of the content that represents your brand.

Imagine a scenario where a business specializing in eco-friendly products partners with a content creator who has a deep understanding of sustainable living trends, SEO strategies, and the ability to craft compelling narratives. This synergy allows the business to produce content that not only ranks well in search engines but also genuinely resonates with environmentally conscious consumers.

The partner’s ability to analyze market trends, adapt to changing SEO algorithms, and create engaging, informative content can transform a brand’s online presence.

Such expertise ensures that every piece of content—be it a blog post, video script, or social media update—aligns with the brand’s values, targets the right audience, and contributes to building a loyal community. This level of proficiency in content marketing elevates a brand, setting it apart from competitors and establishing it as a thought leader in its niche.


  • Examine industry relevance: Assess how well the partner understands and has engaged with your industry or similar sectors. Look for specific examples where they have developed content strategies that effectively addressed industry-specific challenges and trends.
  • Assess content innovation: Determine their capability to innovate within content marketing, such as through interactive content, unique formats, or leveraging emerging platforms. Evaluate their willingness and ability to experiment with new content types that could set your brand apart.
  • Identify audience engagement strategies: Investigate how the partner plans and executes strategies to engage different segments of your target audience. This includes understanding the nuances of audience behavior and preferences to tailor content that resonates and drives engagement.
  • Check content performance metrics: Request examples of how their content has performed in past campaigns, focusing on metrics that matter to content marketing success, such as engagement rates, conversion rates, and overall reach. This will give insight into their ability to produce results-driven content.
  • Evaluate thought leadership content: Look for evidence of their ability to produce thought leadership content that positions a brand as an authority in its field. This includes content that not only informs but also inspires industry conversation and innovation.
Unusual Idea


Consider the idea of “Creative Compatibility Testing.” This unusual enhancement involves evaluating a potential content partner’s ability to adapt their creativity to match your brand’s voice and ethos in unconventional ways. For instance, instead of just assessing their past work, challenge them with a brief that requires crafting content for a hypothetical product or scenario outside their comfort zone, yet relevant to your industry.

Applying this to the example of an eco-friendly product business, they could ask the content creator to devise a campaign for a future product that pushes the boundaries of sustainability. This test not only assesses their content marketing expertise but also their creative agility and ability to innovate under unique constraints, ensuring they can truly resonate with your brand’s innovative spirit.

2. Review their portfolio and case studies

Delving into a potential partner’s portfolio and case studies offers a tangible glimpse into their capacity to produce content that not only engages but also converts.

Imagine a software company in search of a content partner to articulate its complex offerings in an accessible manner. By examining portfolios, the company could identify a content creator who has successfully demystified tech products for a similar audience, showcasing their ability to distill technical information into compelling, understandable content.

Case studies further illuminate this capability, revealing the strategic thinking behind content campaigns, their execution, and most importantly, the outcomes achieved.

Such an in-depth review ensures the chosen partner not only understands the intricacies of content marketing within the tech industry but also possesses the creativity and strategic insight to drive meaningful engagement and conversion, positioning the software company as a leader in its field through clear, impactful communication.


  • Identify relevant projects: Look for projects in the portfolio that closely align with your brand’s industry, target audience, and content needs to ensure the partner has experience with similar challenges and opportunities.
  • Analyze content quality: Examine the quality of the content in terms of writing, creativity, and visual elements. This includes assessing how well it communicates key messages and engages the target audience.
  • Scrutinize outcome metrics: Seek out case studies that provide clear, measurable outcomes of their projects. Focus on results such as increased traffic, improved engagement rates, and higher conversion metrics to gauge effectiveness.
  • Evaluate strategic depth: Determine the level of strategic thinking behind the projects. Look for insights into the partner’s ability to conduct thorough market research, audience analysis, and competitive benchmarking.
  • Assess content diversity: Review the range of content types the partner has produced, including blog posts, videos, infographics, and social media content. A diverse portfolio indicates the partner’s versatility in catering to different content marketing needs.
Unusual Idea


Consider the idea of “Dynamic Portfolio Simulation.” This unusual enhancement involves asking potential content partners to not just show their past work but to adapt a piece from their portfolio to align with your brand’s specific needs or vision as a live demonstration of their adaptability and creativity.

For the software company example, this could mean selecting a content piece from the partner’s portfolio that successfully simplified tech concepts and requesting a simulation where that approach is tailored to explain the company’s unique software solution. This method provides a hands-on understanding of how the partner’s past successes could be translated into solving your brand’s specific challenges, offering a deeper insight into their practical skills and strategic flexibility in real-time scenarios.

3. Check client testimonials and references

Checking client testimonials and references is a direct line to understanding the real-world impact a content outsourcing partner can have on a brand’s objectives.

Consider a startup looking to elevate its online presence through insightful, engaging content. By reaching out to previous clients of a prospective content agency, the startup gains firsthand insights into the agency’s reliability, quality of work, responsiveness to feedback, and ability to meet deadlines.

These references can also shed light on the agency’s capability to significantly improve metrics like website traffic, user engagement, and conversion rates, offering concrete evidence of their effectiveness in content marketing.

This step ensures the startup can make an informed decision, selecting a partner not just for their promises but for their proven ability to deliver results and foster positive client relationships, which is essential for a startup aiming to quickly establish a strong market presence.


  • Verify authenticity: Ensure the testimonials and references provided are genuine by cross-verifying the information with the source, such as through LinkedIn profiles or direct contact details, to confirm the legitimacy of the feedback.
  • Seek specific outcomes: Ask for details on specific results achieved through the partnership, such as increased traffic, higher engagement rates, or improved conversion metrics, to gauge the tangible impact of the content strategy.
  • Inquire about problem-solving: Query how the agency addressed any challenges or setbacks during the project, providing insights into their problem-solving capabilities and resilience in the face of obstacles.
  • Understand client satisfaction: Delve into the overall satisfaction levels of past clients, including their satisfaction with the communication process, project management, final deliverables, and whether they would recommend the agency.
  • Evaluate long-term relationships: Investigate whether any clients have engaged in long-term or repeat collaborations with the agency, indicating trust, reliability, and sustained value in the partnership.
Unusual Idea


Consider the idea of “Reverse Reference Interviews.” This unusual enhancement involves conducting interviews not just with the references provided but also asking those references to suggest and facilitate conversations with other clients not initially listed. This approach uncovers a broader spectrum of experiences and opinions about the content outsourcing partner, providing a more rounded view of their capabilities and the consistency of their service quality.

For the startup seeking to boost its online presence, this method could reveal additional insights into the content agency’s adaptability, creativity, and effectiveness across different industries and project scopes, offering a deeper understanding of how the agency’s work stands the test of various challenges and client expectations. This proactive strategy ensures a well-informed decision-making process, rooted in a comprehensive evaluation of the agency’s real-world impact.

4. Get to know their content creation process

Understanding a prospective content outsourcing partner’s creation process is fundamental to ensuring alignment with your brand’s content strategy and quality standards.

Take, for example, a health and wellness brand aiming to establish a strong online presence with authoritative and scientifically-backed content. By delving into a content agency’s creation process, the brand can assess whether the agency rigorously researches topics, consults with subject matter experts, and follows a stringent quality control procedure before publication.

This scrutiny helps the brand determine if the agency is capable of producing content that is not only engaging but also accurate and reflective of the latest health trends and research findings.

Such insight is invaluable, as it ensures the content produced will effectively educate the brand’s audience, enhance its credibility, and support its mission to empower people to lead healthier lives, thereby solidifying the brand’s position in a crowded and competitive market.


  • Detail inquiry on research methods: Investigate how the agency conducts research for content projects, including their sources, depth of research, and methods for ensuring accuracy and relevance to your industry.
  • Examine editorial standards: Assess the agency’s editorial process, focusing on how they ensure content quality, consistency, and adherence to brand voice and guidelines throughout the creation cycle.
  • Understand content customization: Explore how the agency tailors content to different platforms and audiences, including their approach to repurposing content across multiple channels while maintaining its effectiveness.
  • Scrutinize revision policies: Clarify the process for feedback and revisions, including how many rounds are included, the turnaround times for edits, and the level of collaboration expected during this phase.
  • Probe into content optimization: Question the agency on their strategies for optimizing content for search engines and user engagement, including keyword integration, meta data, and user experience considerations.
Unusual Idea


Consider the idea of “Collaborative Content Workshopping.” This unusual enhancement involves participating in a live content creation session with the potential outsourcing partner, providing a hands-on experience of their creation process. In the context of the health and wellness brand, this approach would allow the brand to directly observe how the agency tackles a piece from initial research through to the final edits, including their strategies for incorporating scientific data and expert opinions.

This live workshopping not only offers a transparent view of the agency’s methodologies and adherence to quality standards but also demonstrates their ability to collaborate effectively in real-time, ensuring a perfect match for the brand’s commitment to delivering authoritative, accurate, and engaging health content.

5. Consider their scalability and flexibility

Evaluating a content outsourcing partner’s scalability and flexibility is crucial for businesses aiming to grow and adapt in dynamic markets.

For instance, an e-commerce startup experiencing rapid growth needs a content partner who can not only keep pace with its expanding content needs but also adjust strategies quickly in response to market changes or consumer trends. This involves a partner capable of increasing content volume without sacrificing quality, offering a range of content types to match new product launches, and being agile enough to pivot strategies based on analytics and feedback.

Such scalability ensures that as the startup evolves, its content strategy remains robust, supporting expansion into new markets or audience segments.

Flexibility in content production and strategy execution enables the startup to maintain a consistent, engaging brand voice across all platforms, even as it scales, making the partnership a vital component of its long-term growth strategy.


  • Assess capacity for volume increase: Determine the partner’s ability to handle a significant increase in content volume without compromising on quality, including their resources and processes for scaling up content production.
  • Evaluate adaptability to change: Examine how quickly and effectively the partner can adapt their content strategies and production processes in response to your evolving business needs, market trends, or feedback.
  • Examine the range of content services: Look into the diversity of content types the partner can produce (e.g., blogs, videos, infographics), ensuring they can support your content strategy across different stages of growth and audience preferences.
  • Check for flexibility in engagement models: Investigate whether the partner offers flexible engagement models that can accommodate your changing needs, such as project-based, retainer, or ad hoc services.
  • Probe into technological agility: Understand the partner’s capability to integrate and leverage new technologies or platforms that could enhance content production, distribution, and performance measurement as your brand grows.
Unusual Idea


Consider the idea of “Dynamic Growth Simulations.” This unusual enhancement involves creating hypothetical growth scenarios with the potential partner to test their scalability and flexibility under controlled conditions. For the e-commerce startup example, this could mean simulating a rapid expansion into new markets or a sudden spike in product demand, requiring a corresponding increase in content production and a shift in content strategy.

By engaging the content partner in these simulations, the startup can assess firsthand how well the partner can adapt to changes, manage increased content volume, and maintain quality under pressure. This proactive approach not only ensures the partner’s capabilities align with the startup’s growth ambitions but also establishes a framework for effective collaboration and strategic agility as the business evolves.

6. Analyze their SEO and analytics competence

Analyzing a potential content outsourcing partner’s competence in SEO and analytics is vital for ensuring that your content not only reaches its intended audience but also engages them in a meaningful way.

Consider a boutique hotel chain looking to increase its online visibility and bookings through content marketing. By evaluating a content agency’s ability to optimize content for search engines, the hotel chain can ensure that its articles, blogs, and videos are not only discoverable by potential guests searching for travel tips and accommodation options but also ranked high on search engine results pages.

Furthermore, the agency’s proficiency in analytics allows for the measurement of content performance, enabling data-driven adjustments to content strategy based on user behavior, engagement metrics, and conversion rates.

This level of SEO and analytics expertise ensures that the hotel chain’s content marketing efforts are both effective and efficient, driving targeted traffic to their site and ultimately increasing bookings.


  • Request SEO case studies: Ask for specific case studies that demonstrate the partner’s success in improving search engine rankings and organic traffic for clients, including before-and-after metrics.
  • Examine keyword strategy: Evaluate the partner’s approach to keyword research and strategy, including how they identify and target keywords that are relevant and valuable to your business and audience.
  • Assess analytics reporting: Look into the partner’s capability to provide comprehensive analytics reports, which should include key performance indicators like page views, bounce rates, and conversion rates, and how these metrics inform ongoing content strategy adjustments.
  • Check for technical SEO knowledge: Determine the partner’s understanding of technical SEO aspects, such as site structure, mobile optimization, and loading speed, and how they incorporate these factors into content planning and optimization.
  • Evaluate content optimization practices: Investigate the partner’s practices for optimizing content not just for search engines but also for user engagement and experience, including the use of meta tags, engaging titles, and clear, actionable content.
Unusual Idea


Consider the idea of “Predictive Performance Modeling.” This unusual enhancement involves leveraging advanced analytics and SEO forecasting tools with the potential outsourcing partner to predict the future performance of content strategies before they’re implemented. In the context of the boutique hotel chain, this approach would entail using historical data and current market trends to model how various content strategies could improve search visibility, user engagement, and booking rates over time.

By simulating different scenarios, the hotel chain can assess the partner’s ability to not just react to current SEO standards but to anticipate changes in search algorithms and user behavior, ensuring the content strategy remains effective in the long term. This forward-looking technique offers a proactive measure of the partner’s SEO and analytics expertise, showcasing their capacity to drive sustained growth and adaptability in a dynamic digital landscape.

7. Gauge their communication and collaboration

Gauging the communication and collaboration capabilities of a potential content outsourcing partner is essential for establishing a seamless workflow and ensuring that the final content aligns with your brand’s vision.

Imagine a technology firm aiming to launch a series of thought leadership articles to position itself as a leader in innovative solutions. Effective communication between the firm and its content partner is crucial for translating complex technological concepts into accessible, engaging content that resonates with a broad audience.

This requires regular updates, open feedback channels, and the ability to collaboratively refine ideas and strategies. A partner with strong communication skills ensures that the project stays on track, meets deadlines, and reflects the firm’s objectives, ultimately contributing to the success of the content marketing campaign.

Such a partnership not only fosters trust but also enhances the creative process, resulting in content that truly stands out.


  • Establish clear communication channels: Determine the preferred methods of communication (e.g., email, project management tools, phone calls) and ensure they align with your company’s practices for efficient and clear exchanges.
  • Set expectations for response times: Clarify expected response times for communications, ensuring they are reasonable and meet your project’s urgency and workflow requirements.
  • Define collaboration processes: Understand the partner’s process for collaborative work, including how ideas are shared, feedback is given, and revisions are managed, to ensure a smooth and productive working relationship.
  • Test communication effectiveness: Consider conducting a trial project or initial meeting to assess the real-time communication and collaboration effectiveness, observing how well the partner listens, understands, and contributes to your goals.
  • Assess problem resolution strategies: Inquire about the partner’s approach to resolving misunderstandings or conflicts, ensuring they have a constructive and positive way to address and move beyond potential issues.
Unusual Idea


Consider the idea of “Creative Co-creation Workshops.” This unusual enhancement involves setting up interactive sessions where your team and the potential content outsourcing partner collaboratively brainstorm and develop content ideas or strategies.

Applied to the technology firm example, these workshops would not only serve as a platform for exchanging ideas on thought leadership articles but also as a real-world test of how well both teams communicate, share insights, and work together creatively. This hands-on approach goes beyond traditional email or meeting exchanges, providing a deeper understanding of the partner’s ability to engage in a dynamic, collaborative process that aligns with your brand’s content goals and fosters a strong, productive partnership.

8. Evaluate their cost-effectiveness and ROI

Evaluating the cost-effectiveness and ROI of a potential content outsourcing partner is a critical step to ensure that your investment translates into measurable business value.

Consider a retail company planning to enhance its online presence through a strategic content marketing campaign. By analyzing the proposed costs against the expected increase in website traffic, customer engagement, and sales conversions provided by the content partner, the company can determine if the partnership will yield a positive return on investment.

This assessment should include a comprehensive review of the partner’s pricing structures, the quality of their previous work, and their track record in achieving significant outcomes for similar businesses.

A thorough evaluation helps the retail company to not only budget effectively but also to forecast the potential revenue uplift from the content campaign, ensuring that the partnership is financially viable and aligned with its growth objectives. This pragmatic approach to selecting a content partner safeguards the company’s resources and optimizes its content marketing spend.


  • Quantify expected deliverables: Define and agree on specific deliverables and outcomes you expect from the partnership, including the volume of content, its type, and performance metrics like traffic or conversion rates to measure against the cost.
  • Analyze pricing models: Examine the partner’s pricing models (e.g., per project, retainer, or performance-based) to determine which offers the best alignment with your budget and content marketing goals, ensuring transparency and predictability in costs.
  • Estimate projected ROI: Work with the partner to project the potential return on investment based on past case studies or industry benchmarks, including expected increases in engagement, lead generation, and sales attributed to the content strategy.
  • Consider long-term value: Evaluate the long-term value the partner brings beyond immediate costs, such as building brand authority, customer loyalty, and the cumulative impact of SEO improvements over time.
  • Negotiate performance incentives: Discuss the possibility of including performance-based incentives in the contract, aligning the partner’s compensation with the achievement of specific, measurable results that directly contribute to your business objectives.
Unusual Idea


Consider the idea of “Value-Based Content Investment Analysis.” This unusual enhancement shifts focus from traditional cost-per-content metrics to evaluating the potential value each piece of content brings to your brand over time. For the retail company example, this means not just considering the immediate cost of producing a series of blog posts but analyzing the expected lifespan, engagement levels, and conversion potential of each piece.

By estimating the long-term value—such as sustained traffic growth, improved SEO rankings, and customer retention—the company can make a more informed decision about the partnership’s true ROI. This approach encourages a deeper look into how content contributes to overall business goals, beyond initial costs, fostering a strategic investment mindset towards content marketing expenditures.

In summary

  1. Strategic partnership is crucial: Identifying the right content outsourcing partner involves more than just assessing technical skills; it requires finding a collaborator who aligns with your brand’s vision, understands your industry, and can blend innovative strategies with time-tested approaches to stand out in the competitive content landscape.

  2. Comprehensive evaluation methodology: A meticulous evaluation process, encompassing everything from reviewing portfolios and case studies to analyzing SEO and analytics competence, ensures that the partner not only delivers high-quality content but also contributes to achieving your brand’s marketing objectives and growth goals.

  3. Focus on long-term value: Evaluating potential content partners should go beyond immediate costs and deliverables to consider the long-term value they bring to your brand. This includes their ability to scale with your business, adapt to changing market trends, and ultimately drive a positive return on investment through strategic content initiatives.

Take your brand's content marketing from run-of-the-mill to remarkable

Shobha Ponnappa

"As a Content/Brand Specialist, and SEO/UX Writer, I can help transform your brand's online presence. I can lift it with innovative ideas to take it to an enviable position. Let's collaborate to create a captivating brand story, engage your audience, boost your online visibility, and increase your ROI. Take the next step towards your brand content success and contact me today."

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