Real estate is a tough business. You're essentially selling the same thing as the rest of your competition, while trying to find a way to differentiate. The best real estate agents are usually those that find unique ways to buy marketing.

Content isn't anything new to the real estate world - it's been the dominant form of marketing for years. Any real estate agent worth their salt has an active blog and leverages social media to drive organic leads. If you aren't driving SEO and ranking for local search terms, you're dead in the water.

So how do you distinguish, if the best are already doing this? We serve a lot of real estate agents & realtors at ContentFly, so we've had time to become intimately familiar with their needs.

Most importantly, the need of marginal cost: money saved while marketing is an enormous competitive advantage, in such a crowded marketplace.

Which is why, if you're hiring freelance writers or, god forbid, a full-time writer, you're leaving a ton of money on the table that your competitors are taking advantage of.

Here's why.

The true costs of hiring a freelance writer

Assuming you have an active blog, you most likely have hired one (or several) freelance writer from a place like Upwork.

To start with, freelance writers are overly expensive because it's not an optimized marketplace. When you go on Upwork and search for a freelance writer, you're not going to get the best freelance writer - you're going to get a fairly arbitrary list of writers for your search term.

You see, there's nothing actually anchoring the price. I can go on Upwork and start writing and set whatever rating I want - and then I can grab some clients with low expectations (say, people who want short, fluffy keyword-stuffed SEO articles) to get a decent rating.

Now, if you want solid articles with industry research and good value, am I a great candidate?

Probably not - but there's no way to tell that on Upwork, and as such, I'm likely to earn your business. This is a glaring flaw, and really, the biggest reason services like ContentFly even exist.

Upwork is not a true free market - it's like an online yellow pages. Writers charge whatever they want, and who you hire depends on who shows up on your search page on a given day.

On the other hand, blog post outsourcing services like ContentFly use economies of scale to bring your costs down. Writers do the same work for less pay, because they don't have to go and find their own work. Freelance writers spend half their time looking for work - that's why they have to charge such high rates.

The average outsourcing customers sees marketing cost savings of 60%+ when switching from a freelance writer.

The money value of time

What we've discussed so far is the simple cost savings that come with an outsourced service on a pure word-cost basis. There are actually other costs you might not be considering: the cost of time.

On ContentFly for example, it takes an average of 2 days between signing up and getting your first article. On the flip side, the average freelancer engagement takes over 3 weeks between initial engagement and first deliverable.

On top of that, the average customer goes through at least 2 freelancers before settling on the right fit.

It can take months before you find a decent writer, and at that point you're usually settling because you can't afford to keep searching. Bare in mind, unlike outsourcing services like ContentFly, freelance writers typically don't give refunds if you're not satisfied.

On a survey of our customers, 73% said they signed up for ContentFly because it got too time consuming and expensive to find a writer. Instead, you can sign up and request your first piece of content within 30 seconds.

(I realize this sounds like a glorious sales pitch, but honestly: am I wrong?)

Vs. hiring a full-time writer

Don't do it.

Seriously, just don't. If you aren't going to use an outsourcing service, then find a freelance writer you can engage with - but don't hire a full time writer.

Full time writers are only useful if you're a large company. As a real estate agent, engaging a full or even part-time writer is a massive waste of money. For starters, you don't need to blog that much - a few times a week is enough to start getting results in a few months.

Secondly, you need flexibility. You wont' always have the same volume - for instance, in December we shut off most of our content spend because nobody buys in the holidays.

You can't do that with a full time writer.

Don't hire a full time writer.

Even on the writers side it's bad - the average writer gets logjammed into one engagement, and is usually in a creative rut. Many of our writers came from fulltime copywriter positions and much prefer our set-up because they get an interesting variety of work.

That leads to greater efficiency and more inspired writing on their end because, shocker, everyone's happier with a writer is happy.

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Anyway, that's all I've got. If you're a realtor trying to make content work, don't hesitate to shoot me a personal email if you need any advice (I'm at naeem [at] contentfly [dot] co).

Happy marketing.