North American companies have traditionally had a key advantage over their international counterparts: English is the language of business.
In a world where advertising primarily dictates your ROI, it can be pretty challenging for international companies to compete simply on that basis. Especially now that Content Marketing is the single most effective digital marketing channel, it's increasingly harder for international companies to compete on quality.
The fact is, it can be tough as a non-native speaker to match the level of quality of content that a North American competitor might be able to generate. And as we've talked about often on this blog, the days of churning out fluffy content is over - what wins is substance.
The answer also isn't a simple "well, hire a North American writer". Most of our writers at ContentFly are North American. North American writers are at a premium, and it's an overinflated market - our analysis suggests the average North American freelance writer on Upwork charges 2.2x the international equivalent.
(And that's being weighed down by writer mills from places like Nigeria. As politically incorrect as that sounds, the fact is, there are certain regions of the world where the quality density is much lower, which makes sourcing writers all the more tougher.)
In other words, your budget would have to be 2-3 times higher for a North American writer - while it's important to match North American content quality, your ROI is unlikely to be as high as 3x to justify that investment.
So how do you compete on quality? Here are a few tips.
- Try alternative content streams
Blog posts are the most prevalent form of content, but they aren't necessarily the only option - or even the best one. In fact, some research lately has suggested that video content even generates a higher ROI than writing (I won't source that because you don't care.... so just trust me on it 😉)
Toggl, an Estonia-based company, is a great example of a blog that leverages comics/infographics as one of their main content channels. Growth Tribe, a growth training academy based on the Netherlands, churns out videos quicker than we churn out blog posts.
The point is, the bar for linguistic prowess is lower on alternative content channels. At the end of the day, what customers care about is value - your opportunity to extend value is far less constrained by things like grammatical correctness in less formal channels.
Heck, you could even turn your blog posts into videos through something like Lumen and have that be your main distribution channel.
- Focus on the numbers
On the topic of delivering value, an easy way to stand out is to write very data-driven content. Taking unique insights that your company or platform have access to and turning them into large, consumable media is a fantastic way to differentiate - and nobody cares about grammar when consuming unique insights.
Zapier's annual "fastest growing apps" is one of the most shared pieces of SaaS content out there. Todoist's Year In Review posts are also a fantastic example of value-driven articles. You don't even need the pretty graphics (although they certainly help) - just the numbers, presented in a clean way.
Another option is e-books. Ebooks like PR for Startups are, again, entirely driven through value and tutorials, rather than narratives. Focusing on creating a short, concise ebook that's jam packed with useful information and actionable content will set you apart - and typically doesn't have very high linguistic requirements. It just has to be legible.
Again: focus on delivering value. When you're delivering value it doesn't matter if the language isn't quite as clean or witty as you might get from a Native Writer.
- Use a content creation platform
The biggest issue of hiring North American freelance writers is the cost (and sometimes, the communication gaps). You can skip past this cost by using a content creation platform like ContentFly, which essentially uses an Uber-style system to match your work to the best writer in a pool of hundreds of professional writers.
The benefit of the platform is you take advantage of Economies of Scale. Writers on platforms like ContentFly are pre-vetted, so they're guaranteed to be good. And because they're all given regular work that they don't have to seek out themselves, they work at a big discount.
The average job on ContentFly costs about 6.5c/word. On the open marketplace, those same writers would charge 15-20c/word at the very least. The one catch is this: you have to have a clear vision of what you'd like. ContentFly is not a great place if you want a ton of back and forth to get what you want.
If you can express a clear picture of the topic you want, and the style (or a sample of the style), a content creation platform like ContentFly is really your best option.
It's incredibly difficult nowadays to stand out with your content - there were 4 million blog posts written the day this post was published. Seriously. So it's understandable that not being a native speaker does offer a clear disadvantage in your content consumption.
That isn't the gutpunch it used to be, however. The days of fluffy, easily legible content being the benchmark are gone. Readers nowadays care about value - they care about walking out of a blog post thinking, "cool, I've learned something new". Not only that, but platforms like ContentFly now embrace economies of scale and enable you to get native speaking writers for rates unheard of in past years.
There are no more excuses to generating fantastic content. Get to it.