How To Set Clear Criteria For Content Outsourcing Partners

How To Set Clear Criteria For Content Outsourcing Partners

In today’s milieu, finding the right content outsourcing partners is akin to striking gold. The issue lies not just in sourcing talent but in clearly articulating what you need from them in alignment with your brand.

The solution is a balanced approach: a blend of well-established practices and innovative strategies.

This mix is vital; while traditional methods provide a solid foundation, infusing them with unconventional ideas elevates your content.

It’s about harmonizing the reliable with the creative, ensuring that your content not only meets industry standards but also stands out, engaging your audience in new and dynamic ways.

Contents ...

Why must brands set clear criteria for content outsource partners?

Setting clear criteria for content outsource partners is crucial for brands aiming to maintain a consistent voice and quality across their digital presence. This clarity enables partners to produce content that aligns seamlessly with a brand’s ethos, goals, and audience expectations.

Without well-defined guidelines, there’s a risk of disjointed messaging and a dilution of brand identity, which can confuse and alienate the target audience.

Furthermore, clear criteria streamline the content creation process, reducing back-and-forth communication and revisions. It helps in matching the right expertise to specific content needs, ensuring that each piece of content is crafted by someone who truly understands the subject matter.

Additionally, clear guidelines aid in evaluating the effectiveness of the content produced, making it easier to measure ROI and adjust strategies accordingly. In essence, setting clear criteria is not just about getting what you pay for; it’s about building a cohesive, engaging, and effective content strategy that resonates with your audience and strengthens your brand’s online presence.

Using proven and unusual ideas to set rules for outsourcing content

In content marketing, the blend of proven methods with unusual ideas is key to setting effective rules for outsourcing content. This approach, central to my ‘Unusual By Strategy’ forte, ensures that while the foundational aspects of content creation are respected, there’s always an element of innovation to make the content stand out.

Traditional strategies offer a safety net of tested practices, ensuring reliability and consistency in messaging. However, incorporating unusual, creative ideas challenges the status quo, offering fresh perspectives that can capture audience attention in an overcrowded digital space.

This mix not only enhances the appeal of the content but also aligns with the evolving expectations of a diverse audience. It’s a mandate for those who seek to be trailblazers rather than just followers in content marketing.

By balancing the conventional with the unconventional, one can craft a content strategy that is both grounded and groundbreaking, offering a unique voice in a world where being different is often the key to being heard.

8 crisp ways to clarify your objectives to content outsource partners

Leveraging my 40+ years’ experience as a Brand Content Strategist with a penchant for the unusual, I present eight ways below to combine time-tested approaches (along with unique twists) that are effective in achieving the goal of setting clear criteria for content outsourcing partners. 

This blend of traditional and unconventional strategies ensures not only adherence to proven methods but also the infusion of creativity and innovation. The result is a set of guidelines that are robust, dynamic, and tailored to elevate your content outsourcing strategy to new heights, making your brand’s voice distinct and resonant in a competitive digital landscape.

How To Set Clear Criteria For Content Outsourcing Partners (Infographic)

1. Clearly define and prioritize your content goals

Establishing and prioritizing content goals is a fundamental step in crafting criteria for outsourcing partners, acting as a compass guiding all content-related decisions.

For instance, a company aiming to increase brand awareness might prioritize engaging and informative blog posts, while a business focusing on lead generation could emphasize persuasive and SEO-optimized content. Imagine a skincare brand that sets a primary goal of educating its audience about organic skincare. By prioritizing this objective, they can instruct their content partners to produce educational articles, how-to guides, and ingredient-focused content, rather than generic promotional material.

This focused approach ensures that every piece of content aligns with the brand’s overarching strategy and contributes effectively to its marketing objectives.

By clearly defining these goals, brands can communicate their needs more effectively to their content partners, ensuring that every article, blog post, or social media update is a strategic piece of the larger content marketing puzzle, designed to achieve specific, predetermined objectives.


  • Identify key performance indicators (KPIs): Determine specific metrics to track the success of your content. This could include website traffic, engagement rates, or lead conversion rates, ensuring that your content goals align with measurable outcomes.
  • Establish content prioritization criteria: Define what makes certain content more critical than others. This could be based on factors like potential reach, relevance to current marketing campaigns, or alignment with seasonal trends, to focus efforts where they’re most needed.
  • Set clear objectives for each content piece: Ensure every article, blog, or social media post has a specific purpose, whether it’s to inform, persuade, entertain, or convert. This clarity will guide your outsourcing partner in creating content that fulfills its intended role.
  • Align content goals with business objectives: Make sure that your content goals directly contribute to the broader aims of your business, whether it’s increasing brand awareness, driving sales, or building customer loyalty.
  • Regularly review and adjust content goals: Stay adaptable by periodically reassessing your content goals to ensure they remain relevant and effective in the ever-changing landscape of content marketing and consumer behavior.
Unusual Idea


Consider the idea of “Dynamic Goal Shifting.” This unusual enhancement involves periodically re-evaluating and adjusting content goals based on real-time data and emerging trends. Instead of setting rigid goals, this dynamic approach allows for flexibility and innovation in content strategy. Applying this to our earlier example of the skincare brand focusing on organic skincare education: mid-campaign, they notice a surge in interest around a specific organic ingredient.

Using Dynamic Goal Shifting, they quickly pivot, changing their requirements for outsourced content to be centered around this trending topic … thus capitalizing on current audience interests while staying aligned with their primary educational objective. This method ensures content remains relevant and engaging, adapting to the ever-changing landscape of consumer interests and online trends.

2. Describe your target audience very accurately

Accurate description of your target audience is vital for ensuring content outsourcing partners can tailor their work to the right demographic.

Imagine a fitness brand targeting young professionals in urban areas. Providing specific details about this group’s lifestyle, fitness habits, and media consumption enables content creators to craft messages that resonate. They might focus on quick, high-intensity workouts suitable for busy schedules or nutritious meal plans that are easy to prepare.

This level of detail helps in creating content that is not only relevant but also compelling to the intended audience. It also guides the tone, style, and even the platforms where the content will be most effective. For instance, leveraging Instagram for visually appealing workout demonstrations or LinkedIn for articles on balancing a professional life with health goals.

This approach ensures that every piece of content is a strategic asset, designed to engage and convert the specific audience, thereby maximizing the impact of your content marketing efforts.


  • Conduct audience research: Utilize surveys, social media analytics, and market research to gather comprehensive data about your audience’s demographics, interests, and online behavior.
  • Analyze customer feedback and reviews: Regularly review customer feedback and online reviews to understand the preferences, pain points, and expectations of your target audience.
  • Create detailed audience personas: Develop in-depth personas that include age, location, job title, hobbies, and challenges to guide content creators in crafting messages that resonate deeply.
  • Monitor audience engagement trends: Keep an eye on how your audience interacts with different types of content across various platforms to continually refine your understanding of their preferences.
  • Update audience profiles regularly: Ensure that the audience information is current and evolves with changing trends and behaviors, allowing for timely and relevant content creation.
Unusual Idea


Consider the idea of “Psychographic Evolution Mapping.” This unusual enhancement goes beyond traditional demographic data, focusing on the evolving psychological profiles and lifestyle changes of your audience. It involves tracking not just who your audience is, but how they evolve over time in terms of values, aspirations, and concerns – and conveying this to outsource partners.

For the fitness brand targeting young urban professionals, this approach would mean regularly updating their audience persona to reflect changes in lifestyle trends, like the growing emphasis on mental health or work-life balance. By understanding these shifts, content outsourcing partners can produce material that not only resonates with the audience’s current state but also anticipates their evolving needs and interests, keeping the brand’s content strategy ahead of the curve.

3. Set specific quality standards for your content

Establishing specific quality standards for content is essential to ensure consistency and effectiveness in your marketing efforts. For example, a gourmet coffee brand might set standards that include engaging, informative content with a sophisticated tone, high-resolution images of their products, and detailed brewing guides.

These standards ensure that every piece of content, whether a blog post, social media update, or marketing email, reflects the brand’s premium image and expertise in coffee.

Quality standards also provide clear guidance for outsourcing partners, enabling them to produce content that meets the brand’s expectations without extensive revisions. This approach not only maintains the brand’s reputation for quality but also enhances audience trust and engagement.

By setting and adhering to these standards, the brand ensures that its content consistently communicates its values and expertise, thereby strengthening its position in the market and attracting a loyal customer base.


  • Develop a style guide: Create a comprehensive style guide that includes tone, language, and writing style to ensure uniformity across all content pieces.
  • Specify visual quality criteria: Define clear standards for imagery and video content, such as resolution, style, and branding elements, to maintain visual consistency.
  • Set editorial standards: Outline specific grammar, punctuation, and formatting rules to ensure all content meets high editorial quality.
  • Implement fact-checking procedures: Establish a process for verifying the accuracy and credibility of information presented in your content to maintain trustworthiness.
  • Determine performance metrics for quality assessment: Identify key performance indicators like engagement rates, bounce rates, and conversion rates to evaluate and maintain the quality of content over time.
Unusual Idea


Consider the idea of “Emotive Quality Benchmarking.” This unusual enhancement involves setting quality standards for outsource vendors not just based on technical aspects, but also on the emotional response your content elicits. It’s about ensuring that each piece of content resonates emotionally with your audience, creating a deeper connection.

For the gourmet coffee brand, this means not only adhering to high-resolution images and detailed brewing guides but also ensuring that each piece evokes a sense of warmth, sophistication, and passion for coffee. The content should not just inform but also stir emotions, making readers feel the aroma and richness of the coffee through words and visuals, thereby elevating the standard of content beyond conventional quality metrics.

4. Outline the needed content types and formats

A strategic approach to content marketing involves not just creating content, but creating the right type of content in the appropriate format. For instance, a technology firm aiming to establish thought leadership might focus on in-depth white papers and case studies, while a fashion retailer could benefit more from visually rich Instagram posts and engaging blog articles.

Imagine a travel agency that decides to target adventure travelers. They might choose to create immersive video content showcasing thrilling travel experiences and detailed blog posts on unique destinations, rather than generic destination descriptions or brief social media updates.

This deliberate selection of content types and formats ensures that the agency’s content resonates with their specific audience segment, driving engagement and reinforcing their brand’s position as a go-to source for adventure travel.

It’s a tailored approach that speaks directly to the preferences and needs of their target audience, making every piece of content an effective tool in their overall marketing strategy.


  • Assess current content trends: Research and identify current trends in content types and formats relevant to your industry. This could involve analyzing competitor content, industry reports, or consumer behavior studies to understand what formats are most effective and engaging.
  • Determine content platforms: Decide on the platforms where your content will be published. This includes not only social media platforms but also blogs, websites, email newsletters, and other digital channels, ensuring that the chosen formats are suitable for each platform.
  • Experiment with mixed media: Consider incorporating a variety of media types, such as videos, infographics, podcasts, and interactive content. This diversification can enhance engagement and cater to different audience preferences.
  • Tailor content to buyer’s journey stages: Customize content formats to align with different stages of the buyer’s journey. For example, use educational blogs for awareness, detailed case studies for consideration, and product demos for the decision stage.
  • Plan for content scalability: Ensure that your content types and formats are scalable and adaptable. This means considering how the content can be repurposed or evolved to suit changing business needs and audience interests over time.
Unusual Idea


Consider the idea of “Format Fusion.” This unusual enhancement involves asking the outsource vendors to blend different content formats to create a unique and engaging experience. Rather than sticking to traditional, singular content types, Format Fusion encourages the combination of various media to captivate audiences more effectively.

For the travel agency targeting adventure travelers, this could mean integrating 360-degree videos into their blog posts, offering a virtual, immersive experience of adventure destinations. Such a fusion not only caters to the visual appetite of the audience but also provides a more interactive and engaging way to consume content. By merging different formats, the agency can create a distinctive and memorable content experience, setting them apart in the crowded travel industry.

5. Clarify SEO requirements in substantial detail

Clarifying SEO requirements in detail is essential for ensuring that outsourced content not only aligns with a brand’s messaging but also performs effectively in search engine rankings. This involves providing specific keywords, explaining the importance of keyword density, and outlining expectations for meta descriptions and title tags.

For example, a health and wellness brand might provide a list of targeted keywords related to natural remedies and holistic health, along with guidelines on how often these terms should appear in the content. They could also specify the need for backlinks to authoritative medical sources and the inclusion of long-tail keywords in blog post titles.

By doing so, the brand ensures that the content created by outsourcing partners is not only informative and engaging but also optimized for search engines, increasing the likelihood of higher rankings and more organic traffic.

This detailed guidance helps content creators understand the intricacies of SEO in the context of the brand’s specific industry, leading to more effective and targeted content marketing efforts.


  • Specify target keywords: Provide a comprehensive list of primary and secondary keywords that the content should focus on, ensuring they are relevant to your brand and have a strong search potential.
  • Detail keyword placement guidelines: Instruct on the strategic placement of keywords within the content, such as in titles, headers, first paragraphs, and throughout the body, maintaining a natural flow and readability.
  • Outline backlinking strategy: Give clear instructions on the desired approach for backlinking, including the number of internal and external links per article, and the types of authoritative sites to link to.
  • Explain meta data requirements: Clarify the specifics for meta titles and descriptions, including character limits and how to effectively incorporate keywords to enhance search engine visibility and click-through rates.
  • Discuss content length and structure: Provide guidance on the preferred length of content pieces and the structure, such as the use of short paragraphs, bullet points, and subheadings for better SEO performance and readability.
Unusual Idea


Consider the idea of “Semantic Evolution.” This unusual enhancement goes beyond traditional keyword optimization, focusing on the comprehensive understanding of topic clusters and user intent. It involves creating content that not only includes specific keywords but also covers related terms and concepts in depth, anticipating and answering additional questions the audience might have.

Applying this to the health and wellness brand example, instead of merely asking outsource vendors to integrate keywords about natural remedies, the content could encompass a broader spectrum of related topics, like lifestyle changes accompanying these remedies, or comparisons with conventional treatments. This approach not only caters to search engines but also provides a richer, more informative experience for the reader, positioning the brand as a thought leader in its field.

6. Communicate and share your brand guidelines

Effective communication and sharing of brand guidelines are pivotal for ensuring that outsourced content faithfully represents a brand’s identity and values. This process involves providing detailed documents that cover everything from tone of voice and writing style to logo usage and color schemes.

For instance, a gourmet coffee brand might share guidelines emphasizing a warm, conversational tone in their content, use of specific jargon related to coffee brewing, and a color palette that reflects their packaging.

By doing so, they ensure that every piece of content, whether it’s a blog post, social media update, or marketing brochure, resonates with their brand’s essence. This consistency is key in building a strong brand identity and maintaining trust with the audience.

When outsourcing partners are equipped with these comprehensive guidelines, they are better able to produce content that not only aligns with the brand’s marketing goals but also reinforces the brand’s unique voice and aesthetic, making every interaction with the brand a cohesive experience for the customer.


  • Provide comprehensive brand style guide: Share a detailed guide covering your brand’s tone, voice, writing style, and visual elements like logos, color schemes, and fonts to ensure consistency across all content.
  • Explain brand values and mission: Clearly articulate your brand’s core values and mission statement to enable content creators to align their work with what your brand stands for.
  • Detail visual branding requirements: Outline specific instructions for the use of logos, images, and any other visual elements, including guidelines on how they should be displayed in different types of content.
  • Communicate preferred writing style and tone: Offer clear examples of the desired writing style and tone, whether it’s formal, conversational, humorous, or professional, to maintain a consistent brand voice.
  • Provide examples of ideal content: Share examples of previous content that effectively embodies your brand’s guidelines, serving as a template for content creators to understand and replicate the desired style and tone.
Unusual Idea


Consider the idea of “Brand Immersion Workshops.” This unusual enhancement involves interactive sessions where outsourced content creators are not just given the brand guidelines but are also immersed in the brand’s culture and ethos. These workshops can include activities like storytelling sessions from the brand’s history, discussions with key team members, or hands-on experiences with products or services.

For the gourmet coffee brand example, this could mean inviting content creators to coffee tasting sessions, where they experience the brand’s offerings firsthand and learn about the subtleties of flavor profiles and brewing techniques. Such immersive experiences enable content creators to internalize the brand’s essence, leading to content that is deeply aligned with the brand’s identity and resonates more authentically with the audience.

7. Share a deadline-based content creation calendar

Sharing a deadline-based content creation calendar is a fundamental step in managing the workflow and expectations between a brand and its content outsourcing partners.

This calendar not only outlines what content is needed and when, but also allocates sufficient time for creation, review, and revisions. For example, a sports equipment company planning a major product launch might map out a detailed calendar that includes initial blog posts introducing the product, social media teasers leading up to the launch, and a series of follow-up articles and videos post-launch.

This structured timeline ensures that each piece of content is strategically released to maximize impact and engagement. It also allows the outsourcing partners to allocate resources effectively and meet deadlines without compromising on quality.

By having a clear schedule, both the brand and the content creators can work in a coordinated manner, ensuring that the marketing efforts are consistent, timely, and effective, ultimately leading to a successful product launch and sustained audience engagement.


  • Establish key milestones and deadlines: Outline important dates such as content submission deadlines, review periods, and final publication dates, ensuring a clear timeline for all parties involved.
  • Incorporate time for revisions: Allocate time within the calendar for revisions and edits, acknowledging that quality content often requires iterative improvements before finalization.
  • Sync with marketing and sales campaigns: Align the content calendar with broader marketing and sales initiatives, ensuring that content supports and enhances these campaigns at critical moments.
  • Update calendar regularly: Maintain flexibility by regularly updating the content calendar to accommodate changes in marketing strategies, audience needs, or external factors.
  • Communicate calendar changes promptly: Ensure any changes to the content calendar are communicated to all stakeholders as soon as possible to prevent misalignments and maintain smooth content delivery.
Unusual Idea


Consider the idea of “Dynamic Calendar Integration.” This unusual enhancement involves integrating a live, collaborative calendar platform where content deadlines dynamically adjust based on project progress and immediate feedback. Unlike a static calendar, this dynamic system allows for real-time updates and adjustments, ensuring that the content creation process is agile and responsive to changing needs.

Applying this to the sports equipment company’s product launch, as the campaign unfolds, the dynamic calendar could adjust deadlines for follow-up articles and videos from the outsource partner based on audience engagement and feedback. This approach allows for a more fluid and adaptive content strategy, ensuring that the company’s content remains relevant and impactful throughout the entirety of the launch period, thereby maximizing audience engagement and marketing effectiveness.

8. Have an iterative feedback system to get alignment

An iterative feedback system is vital for ensuring alignment between a brand’s vision and the content produced by outsourcing partners. This process involves regular check-ins, constructive critiques, and collaborative adjustments to content based on both parties’ input.

For example, a lifestyle brand focused on sustainable living might implement a system where initial blog drafts are reviewed for not just accuracy and SEO, but also for alignment with the brand’s ethos of sustainability. Feedback would be provided, and the content revised accordingly. This iterative process ensures that the final content truly resonates with the brand’s message and appeals to its environmentally conscious audience.

The ongoing dialogue between the brand and the content creators fosters a deeper understanding of the brand’s goals and audience, leading to more effective and engaging content.

Such a feedback loop is essential for maintaining a consistent brand voice and message, especially when working with external partners, and it contributes significantly to the overall success of the content marketing strategy.


  • Schedule regular feedback sessions: Establish a routine for periodic reviews and feedback discussions, ensuring ongoing communication and alignment throughout the content creation process.
  • Utilize collaborative tools for feedback: Implement tools like shared documents or project management platforms that allow for real-time comments and suggestions, facilitating a more interactive and immediate feedback process.
  • Encourage open, constructive communication: Foster an environment where honest and constructive feedback is welcomed and valued, ensuring that all parties can express their views and concerns freely.
  • Focus on specific, actionable feedback: Provide clear, specific feedback that focuses on actionable improvements, rather than vague or general comments, to guide content creators effectively.
  • Review and reflect on feedback outcomes: After implementing feedback, take time to review the results and discuss how the changes have impacted the content, allowing for continuous learning and improvement in the process.
Unusual Idea


Consider the idea of “Feedback Gamification.” This unusual enhancement involves turning the feedback process into a game-like experience, where outsourced content creators earn points or rewards for incorporating feedback effectively and enhancing the quality of content. By adding elements of competition and reward, it makes the iterative feedback process more engaging and motivating.

Applying this to the lifestyle brand focused on sustainable living, each successful incorporation of sustainability-focused feedback could earn points, with milestones for exceptional alignment with the brand’s ethos. This approach not only encourages outsourced content creators to deeply engage with the brand’s vision but also adds an element of fun and innovation to the feedback process, fostering creativity and a deeper investment in producing content that truly resonates with the brand’s message and audience.

In summary

  1. Effective communication of goals and guidelines: The importance of clearly communicating your brand’s goals, SEO requirements, and content guidelines cannot be overstated. This clarity ensures that the content created by outsourcing partners aligns with your brand’s voice, objectives, and audience expectations, resulting in a cohesive and effective content strategy.

  2. Structured planning and feedback systems: Implementing a structured approach, including a deadline-based content calendar and an iterative feedback system, is essential for maintaining alignment and quality control. This approach not only streamlines the content creation process but also fosters a collaborative and adaptive working environment, ensuring continuous improvement and relevance of the content produced.

  3. Innovative enhancements to traditional strategies: Incorporating unusual enhancements, like dynamic goal shifting and feedback gamification, can significantly elevate the impact of your content strategy. These creative approaches bring a fresh perspective to conventional practices, enhancing engagement and encouraging a deeper connection between content creators and your brand’s unique ethos.

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."

Join My Community!

I Bring You:

Content Marketing That’s “Unusual By Strategy” … Tips, Tricks, Tactics, Techniques, Trends, Training.

Get my weekly ContenTracker Newsletter packed with loads of content marketing ideas – proven and unusual.

ContenTracker Newsletter

Get a free download of my ebook on “50 Unusual Ways To Use AI In Content Marketing” …  and transform your success.

Ebook Offer

Just fill in the form to join my community … we have big and small brands for company. You’ll stay on the speedway to growth.

50 Unusual Ways To Use AI In Content Marketing

Free Download

Just fill in this form and get this awesome ebook in your email inbox. Plus … each week you’ll receive my ContenTracker Newsletter that brings you tips, tricks, tactics, techniques, trends, and training on the latest in content marketing.