Anyone know of a good way (besides for hiring non-native-English speakers) to make content scalable for a couple hundred clients? Any recommendations re: freelancers, elance, guru, odesk, etc. Is any one better than the other?
Scalable how? Same content (duplicate possiblity) in different languages? Same content on hundred plus clients? Taking 1000 word articles and chopping into 250 word pieces to present more ad space? Need definition of "scale" desired.
Scalable meaning different content for each client. Ad space isn't an issue - there are no ads on these sites. In other words - we need a solution for about 150 clients to each receive different, fairly quality content on a monthly basis. No content spinning or content chopping or similar workarounds.
You're delving into the realms of being a content provider? I assume they're SEO clients and you're providing content as part of the SEO strategy?
It's very difficult to scale - personally, I've been more inclined to push clients to produce their own content - it might not be great copy, but it's usually pretty good industry commentary.
I've used a news service to produce 50 news items a month for a website I run - they were probably one of the largest providers in the UK. The copy wasn't bad, but it lacked personality - I was never that impressed with it. Can't remember the costs but it was in the region of £750 per month for 50 * 250-300 word articles.
I've used freelancers quite a lot and generally if you can find a copywriter with a passion for a particular industry then they usually do well for you. But I still feel it lacks the personality of the client doing it inhouse.
I've also had experience with a million page website who had around 250-300 contributors all blogging individually on the site. The issues there were the lack of consistency from section to section. Actually there were other issues with the site that contributed to the problem, but it ended up producing loads of junk pages.
The reality is that unless you have a team of professional writers, an editor who can manage them and a strategist who can lead them in the right direction, content production isn't that scalable. Inevitably there are problems with quality.
If I was pressed for a solution, I'd either find a news agency to handle all the work, or hire a solid editor to work inhouse and manage freelancers (assuming hiring a team of writers to work inhouse isn't an option).
To be honest though, the idea of producing content for absolutely every SEO client worries me - it's not something I'd do - I don't think it is a solid long term strategy given the costs and difficulties re: quality. Of course, some industries / businesses it is an appropriate strategy - you know your clients better than me. :)
Thanks Marketing Guy - very helpful! Quality is actually of the utmost concern for our clients. Most of them aren't that proactive, hence the reason we need to consistently update their content. We're looking into the freelance route - have you had any success with platforms such as ODesk, Guru, Freelancer, or Elance?
Not really used freelancers on that scale - always had a few contacts already available for the one off jobs we've been doing. Most the freelance job boards have a good selection of freelancers though, but it might be a case of trial and error to find a few that work well for you.
If you are focusing on one particular market quite heavily (for a few clients), then it might be worthwhile hiring someone full time to work from your offices. It'll give you greater control over the strategy, a quicker turnaround and probably more cost effective.