I recently had some dealings with a company that sells business websites and blogging services. An established company with a reasonable client list—so I was surprised by the fact that their plan doesn’t seem all that excellent.
Situation: The provider company needed some guest posts in order to fill the pipeline for a client blog. The client (a mid-sized company, not a start-up) is in a technical field that requires some moderately specialized knowledge on the part of the bloggers. I happen to know something about the field, so they asked me to suggest four topics to write about.
Here’s the first catch. They didn’t tell me the name of the client company, just the topic areas. I sent along four pretty good ideas, which they professed to love. Apparently, however, they did not notice (or did not know) that one of my proposed topics concerned a product that belongs to a direct competitor of their client company. So they okayed a topic that would have been quite a poor choice for the blog.
Second catch. I was told to leave my posts in a queue, and the blog editor would provide images. Which turned out to be true–but not exactly in a good way! Most of the posts had small, rather outdated-looking stock photos. And some of the posts had the same photo.
Third catch. Most of the stories had a generic by-line. I.e., “Posted by the [Client Name] Team.” I’m personally okay with being anonymous, but it’s hard for a blog to establish credibility if it looks like a string of unowned news bytes.
During my brief involvement, I received no communication at all from the editor–and if there was a plan or philosophy for the blog it certainly wasn’t apparent to me. Here’s the final catch, though. They paid in the top tier of market rates, at least for my contributions. Which probably means they are charging the client somewhere near top rates. And the product they are providing seems . . . well, not “top” quality. Or at least not so far.
Takeaway: There may be some very good reasons to outsource a business blog, especially when the goal is to provide industry-level content rather than company-specific content. “Inside Acme Widgets” should be written by Acme insiders, but “All About Widgets” or “Widgetmania” might be done as well or better by professional bloggers. Outsourcing is not the same as offloading, however! Give the vending company detailed directions and monitor their work carefully if you want to end up with a good blog.
(Thanks to ArséniureDeGallium for the delightfully “skeptical” smiley.)