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As I often talk about on this site, one of the biggest draws to building niche websites is how passive it can be at the end of the day. However, that doesn’t mean you should jump straight to outsourcing all of your content and tasks on day 1.
Believe it or not, there are actually quite a few benefits to doing the work yourself. The biggest one probably being that you can iron out the wrinkles in your processes and really nail down a smooth and profitable system.
Thankfully for me, I didn’t even know outsourcing was an option when I first got into building niche websites. I truly believe that if had gone down the path of outsourcing immediately, I would have failed, and failed miserably.
My goal with this article is not to convince you to write all of your own articles. In fact, my team and I outsource the majority of our content now (see the services we use). Instead, I want to show you why it’s so important that you write your own articles early on, and not just on your first site, but potentially on every site you create.
The Benefits of Outsourcing
Before we dive into the reasons why outsourcing often doesn’t make sense, let’s take a quick detour and discuss the benefits and what it can mean for your niche site.
The general concept of outsourcing is to pay someone else to do something for you. In the case of a niche website, this could mean paying someone to write articles, add images to your articles, manage your social media accounts, and much more.
In this day and age of technological advances, outsourcing has become easier than ever. There are some great sites out there, like upwork.com or fiverr.com, that make it unbelievably easy to hire a freelancer to take care of something for your site.
You can literally start a contract with someone without ever picking up a phone or having a face-to-face conversation with them. Instead, you handle everything through an online chat, and the freelancer can even be located on the other side of the globe.
If you’ve ever looked into freelancing, the benefits should be obvious to you. One of the big ones is saving time. By outsourcing your work, you can pay someone to do something for you while you focus on other areas within your business.
Another major benefit is that you can hire freelancers to do tasks that you simply don’t have the skills to do. In the context of outsourcing articles, maybe you have a really hard time with writing, spelling, or grammar.
By outsourcing content, you can let someone with a specialized skill accomplish any task that you don’t feel comfortable doing yourself. That’s not to say that outsourcing is all rainbows and sunshine though.
The Drawbacks of Outsourcing
While there are many benefits to outsourcing, a couple of which I mentioned in the last section, there are also several drawbacks to watch out for.
The first is money, and this is a big one when you start a new site. If you outsource a task to someone, you need to pay them for it. You’re essentially exchanging money for time, skills, etc.
While there’s nothing wrong with paying someone to do something for you, if you go overboard, you can put yourself in a big hole in a hurry, without seeing any return from your investment.
Money aside, outsourcing also leads to a mixed bag of quality, especially if you outsource using multiple services. The level of quality will depend on the freelancer you’re working with, and as you scale, you will need to work with many freelancers, somehow keeping the quality level consistent between them.
Another item to consider with outsourcing is the security of your site. As you work with freelancers, you’re going to have to provide them with a certain level of information about what you’re doing, and if you’re outsourcing the writing, they will eventually be able to search their articles and find your site.
Probably the biggest drawback to outsourcing is that you’re going to lose a certain level of control. Whether you’re outsourcing content or tasks, if you’re paying someone else to do these things for you, they are going to do them how they think they should be done, which won’t necessarily align with the way you want them to be done.
The Value of Writing Your Own Articles
As you can see, there are plenty of pros and cons when it comes to outsourcing. Outsourcing can definitely help you scale your business, but it can also leads to some unexpected issues if you’re not careful.
This is why I highly recommend writing your own articles when you start your first niche site. By writing your own articles, you can make mistakes, learn from them, and figure out exactly what you need before paying someone else to create content for you.
When I tried building my first niche site 7-8 years ago, I failed to gain any traction. I wrote 20-30 lengthy posts, put them on my site, and patiently waited as nothing happened.
In my case, this was fine, because all I had invested into my site was my time and a small amount of money for a domain and hosting (both through Bluehost). Had I outsourced the content, it would have taken a reasonable financial investment and produced zero return.
Aside from not producing a financial return, I also wouldn’t have learned what I did right and more importantly, what I did wrong. That’s the most valuable thing you’ll gain from writing your own articles.
When I got back into building niche sites for a second round about 4 years ago, I took a different approach. I researched for hours, day after day, month after month. By the time I wrote my first article, I felt prepared and thought I knew what I was doing.
Guess what happened? I wrote a large batch of articles for my new site, and I gained very little traction. Not zero traction this time, but definitely not enough to where I would have been in a good spot had I outsourced the content.
The beauty of the second time around was that by the time I had written 50 or so articles, I really started to get an idea of what worked and what didn’t. I was starting to create the blueprints for my business model, a model that would later prove to be very successful.
After that initial batch of articles, I was ready to start outsourcing, at least on a small scale. At that point, my wife and I started outsourcing about one article per week, but still wrote many articles ourselves.
By outsourcing slowly, we were able to uncover many of the challenges that come along with the process, such as giving your writers enough direction to produce good articles, making sure they aren’t simply copying other sites (this happens a lot), and determining an appropriate pay rate.
Had I fully committed to outsourcing right from the beginning, I’m confident that I wouldn’t still be creating niche sites today. Outsourcing isn’t only expensive, but if you don’t know what you truly need from your freelance writers, you’re going to get a ton of content back that might not make sense for the growth of your site.
What You Need Figure Out Before Outsourcing
As I mentioned above, by writing your own articles early on, you can start to identify what type of content you need for your site and what elements are the most important to convey to your writers.
Here are just a few questions you’ll want to ask yourself before you outsource your first article:
- What type of content do I need (buyer intent, informational, etc.)?
- What types of articles can I outsource, and which do I need to write myself?
- How long should the articles be?
- What type of writing style should be used?
- How much am I willing to pay?
- Should the articles be written from a certain perspective?
- Can I use a general writer, or do I need an expert in the field?
- Should I require the writer to cite sources?
- Do I want the writer to add affiliate links?
- What level of quality do I need to meet my standards?
- Should I use one writer, or can content from multiple writers mesh well on my site?
- How am I going to check/edit the content that I receive?
This is a pretty long list, and I’m sure I’m only scratching the surface. My point is that you really need to figure these things out before you pay someone to produce content for you. Otherwise, your writers will make assumptions, and those assumptions almost never align with your goals.
Thankfully, most of these questions will answer themselves as you write your own articles. As your articles start to rank in organic search, you’ll start to see what works and what doesn’t.
Also, as you continue to do research on building niche websites, everything will start to make more sense to you, because you’ve now put yourself in the trenches and will see things from a different perspective.
Once you feel like the questions above have been answered and you start seeing your own articles rank in Google Search, you can step into the world of outsourcing some of your content with confidence. Because you’ll know what works and what doesn’t by that point in time, you can provide your writers with solid instructions to meet the standards of your site.
What About Your Subsequent Niche Sites?
Once you’ve successfully got your first site up and running with a mix of your own content and outsourced content, you might think you can shift to outsourcing all content going forward.
This can definitely work if you have a really good feel for what you’re doing, but I still recommend writing at least the first 20-30 articles for each new site. There are a few reasons for this.
For one, in almost every case, the articles that you write yourself will be more on point and of better quality than the ones you outsource. You simply have more motivation to produce excellent content than your writers, and that will show in your articles.
On every site my team and I have created, the articles that we wrote ourselves tend to outperform the ones that we outsourced. I wish it wasn’t that way, but when you write your own articles, not only are you more motivated than freelancers, but you’ll likely add a personal touch to your articles that will keep readers engaged.
Another reason to write the first batch of articles on a new niche site is to get more familiar with the niche. If you’re starting a site in a niche that you don’t have much knowledge about, writing the first 20-30 articles can provide a ton of value.
As you write those articles, you’re going to learn more about the niche, which will give you plenty of ideas to research for more keywords. And on top of that, you’ll be able to provide your writers with better direction if you have a better understanding of what the reader is looking for.
With all that being said, you can definitely be successful outsourcing all of the content on a site, as long as you have a clear understanding of what type of content you need on your site.
My team and I have built four successful sites, and on all of them, we wrote the first 50-100 articles ourselves. I think this has really helped to ensure that each site gets off to a great start.
With that being said, we did start a fifth site about 8 months ago where we are outsourcing 100% of the content. This is an experiment for us, so we’ll see how it goes. We are seeing a nice upward trend in our traffic, so all signs so far point at this site being successful like our others.
Just keep in mind that in our case, we had already written and/or outsourced well over 1,500 articles by the time we started site #5, so we were pretty confident in our process and felt comfortable enough about the niche that we thought it made sense to go straight to outsourcing.
Outsourcing your content is one of the best ways to scale your business to reach your goals relatively quickly. However, the saying to walk before your run definitely holds true in this case if you want any chance of building a successful site.
As I mentioned in a previous article, patience is one of the greatest keys to a creating a passive income stream with long-term potential. By taking the time to write your own articles early on, you’ll gain a wealth of knowledge that will help to ensure that your outsourced content helps your site grow, instead of putting you in a financial pit.