You've launched your small business website, set up your CRM, even made a Twitter account. Now you just sit back, relax, and wait for the dough to roll in, amirite?

Of course, it doesn't work that way - you need some lead generation. You're probably going to try some direct sales, paid advertising, hiring a goofy mascot, etc.

But eventually you'll wind your way back to old reliable: content.

If this story sounds familiar, it's not - most of our customers at ContentFly did this dance before stumbling onto us. If you're at this level, you're probably thinking of hiring a blogger.

Stop.

Breathe.

This is a big decisions, so let's think through it a little bit.

First, do you have a plan?

The worst mistake you can do is jump in, hire a blogger, and expect them to run your content marketing for you. Even worse is to just hire a content marketer outright - the early days of content marketing should be done by YOU.

Hiring a content marketer before you have any kind of content strategy in place is like hiring a chef before you know what type of food you want to serve.

Before you hire ANYONE figure out what your goals are with content marketing. We've advocated before several times that there are 2 main strategies in content marketing:

1) Shotgun marketing. Use some kind of a keyword planner to generate a giant list of keywords. Blog every single day about one of these keywords, and most importantly focus on adding value. Crappy low-value articles are pointless.

2) Whale hunting. Rather than blasting tons of articles, focus on 1 or 2 massive long-form articles a month. The goal is to add a ton of value with these and try to go somewhat viral. Ebooks are a good option.

Figure out which one you want and come up with a content strategy. Do your homework. This is maybe half a days worth of work, but it's essential.

What's your budget?

Hiring a blogger can be great, but it's not cheap - and usually not an option unless you're a well established company. If you're a small business, you need to outsource your content - something like ContentFly will get you what you need for $250 a month.

If you hire a freelancer, you can get the same quality for upwards of $800-$1000 a month - so what's the benefit of hiring a freelancer over an outsourcing company?

Honestly, the only situation where directly hiring a freelancer is a better idea is if you're in a very technical niche and need someone with specific knowledge.

Finally, the question of hiring a blogger outright to write full time for your business - don't do this. Unless your content marketing budget is in the tens of thousands, this is a huge waste of money.

Outsource. Automate. Optimize.

What are your goals?

The toughest part of content is the fact that it's not as funnel driven as something like paid marketing. You can't immediately visualize where your customers are starting and ending up, or see things like outright conversion rates.

This is a big reason why people fail at content marketing - they're not tracking the right things.

To start off with ,ensure that all your data tracking is set up and you can measure the customer journey from the moment they end up on your blog. That's step 1.

Step 2 is to set actual, realistic goals. Content marketing is not going to bring you big business right away - it's not like paid ads. It can take 3-6 months to ramp up and start ranking for things - make sure you recognize and are aware of that.

Content is a long-term investment, so if you're just starting out make sure to supplement it with more near-term lead generation. A good strategy has content marketing backed up with some direct sales and paid marketing.

Outbound marketing is a great way to get an influx of customers, but content is your long term bet - so hedge your bets by distributing risk accordingly.

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Hiring a blogger is a big step and can be a huge expense for a small business if you don't do it right. Our highly unbiased opinion is to just outsource it - that's what companies like ContentFly are there for.

However, if you insist on doing so, get you ducks in a row. Set expectations, track everything, and make sure you know what your strategy is - because otherwise, you'll find yourself a year later with no more traffic, and a massive hole in your bottom line.

Content is a fickle beast - but it's a gold mine when you get it right. Good luck.