You want to outsource content writing for a British, Australian, or Canadian audience, and you've found the perfect service to do it, but they have one big, glaring flaw: well, they can't help it, but they're American (and so are all of their writers).
The first question you should ask, before requesting their best British English samples, is how they plan to deliver content that speaks to your audience including:
- Proper spelling and grammar in your preferred English
- Links and resources that look familiar to readers in your country
- Appropriate technical and industry standards for your audience
- SEO keywords that target your potential leads, whether they are local, regional, or even international
Just about any service can offer you a sample post, but not every option will have thought through your experience of the content creation process. Below, we provide a list of some of the specific questions you should ask when working with a company "across the pond" and explain how BlogMutt (as one of those companies) has changed our platform to make this process easier for international accounts.
First off, let's chat about the "British English" elephant in the room...
Why would an American company with U.S.-based writers even try to create content in British English?
There are a lot of reasons but two main incentives are based on a company's specific expertise and the cost of labor in the U.S. vs. other countries. Outsourcing content is already less expensive overall than hiring an in-house content team, and when you can access markets with lower labor costs, your overhead becomes even lower (while still allowing you to set prices accordingly). The market expertise piece is a bit less black and white, but each content service has a different specialty—you may not be able to find the perfect partner in smaller markets around the world and the U.S. offers not only a massive workforce, but also a huge marketplace where you can find an array of content options with, at the very least, an international mindset.
Think about it this way: BlogMutt is a unique crowd- and subscription-based content writing service that focuses on providing top-notch writing for SEO. Just like in the U.S., businesses and agencies in the UK, Australia, and Canada are seeking to improve their Google rankings AND lower their overall content production costs. Our expertise—and our writers' expertise—goes way beyond just spelling and grammar (although I'll explain how we handle that part later).
We're able to provide international customers with professional, crowdsourced content on a platform that caters to content marketers and agencies, generally at a lower cost than can be found abroad.
To put it simply, we've seen a lot of demand for SEO and content marketing expertise and we think we're better prepared to handle results-driven content creation for agencies better than anyone else in the world. That's a pretty good incentive to dive into our platform and optimize it for customers like you.
But how could an American content service possibly deliver great content for my audience?
Not every American service will be able to handle content for agencies operating in other countries. In order to determine whether they can create content optimized for your unique audience, here are 6 important questions that you should ask their sales team:
1. Do you have experience working across international borders?
If the company has had experience with other businesses in your country, they should be able to give you an example of a case study or put you in touch with another client who can give a reference. Previous experience doesn't guarantee success, but it usually means that the company may have more resources for international clients and clients who serve global audiences.
2. What types of English do you support?
A lot of services offer only one, or maybe two settings: American English and/or British English. This may seem trivial if you only work in the UK or U.S., but if you're in Australia or South Africa, you may find that neither of those categories really fits your needs.
Ask the company if they support your specific variety of English. If you work with clients in other countries in your own business, check to make sure that you can select different settings for your individual clients, too. This ensures that writers use the correct vocabulary, idioms, and even colloquialisms if you're seeking a more casual, approachable tone.
After all, an Australian audience may not find a reference to a "gas station" familiar (it's a "petrol station" or "servo" there) and a casual-sounding post in Canada should probably refer to a knit cap as a "toque."
These things may seem trivial, but mistakes can really make your content seem off-brand: think of the gaffe that would result if you referred to "football" (UK) as "soccer" (U.S. and Australia) or worse, mixed it up with Australia's favorite sport, "footy" (which is actually rugby).
That's how you end up at the bottom of the pile...
BlogMutt offers customers 6 different English selections: American, British, Canadian, Australian, South African, and New Zealand English. For each subscription (or client) that you add, you can select a different variety to communicate to our writers and ensure your clients are only receiving content in their own English.
3. How do you ensure that writers use the proper spelling and grammar?
Once you're sure that you can selected the type of English that you want, you'll also need to learn more about how the content service delivers on this promise. Do they use specific editing software for different types of English? Do they have a QA protocol in place?
Look for a service that offers their writers resources for perfecting their content to your specifications and whose editors understand your needs. And maybe even more importantly: make sure that the service you choose won't charge you if their writers make mistakes or deliver content that requires editing.
You'll also want to make sure that your content provider understands that the differences between American and British English go way beyond just adding a "u" in "colour" or using an "s" in "realise" instead of a "z."
In American English, for example, we require that commas stay inside quotation marks, while British English dictates that a comma belongs outside. The British also use different prepositions than Americans in certain cases, using "at this time of year," for example, instead of "during this time of year" (U.S.), and "in Maple Street" (UK) rather than "on Maple Street" (U.S.).
As BlogMutt's Head of Writers, this is a challenge that I've had to overcome as we've grown to become a more global company and I've developed several strategies for ensuring that our international customers are receiving content that's just as polished as what we deliver domestically.
Here are 5 ways we ensure that your final product is publish-ready:
- As soon as a writer visits your page, they see a message alerting them about the specific variety of English that you use.
- We require that writers use an external editing software to double check every post before they submit it to your queue, along with verifying that they have proofread the post independently.
- We curate resources for our writers to learn about writing in other varieties of English so they can become familiar with regional spellings as well as grammar and style differences.
- See something that's not quite right? We offer unlimited rounds of edits, so that our writer can make sure that your audience sees content that you've personally approved.
- Did you receive a post that's just not a good fit? Well, that shouldn't happen too often, but if it does, you are not obligated to purchase the post. Simply decline the post, explain why it was not a good fit for your audience, and we'll work on getting you a better piece of content. Declining posts is a healthy component of the BlogMutt ecosystem.
In addition to these 5 safeguards, we also have an extensive QA system both to vet writers as they enter our system and to ensure that only top-notch writers succeed within our platform. If you find a writer who you love, you can also mark them as "preferred," which invites them to write for you again and again.
4. Can you show me some samples of content in the right type of English?
Be sure to check out some of the content that each service has created in the past. You shouldn't rely on this as your only source of information about the content available, but it is still an important step.
Does the writer use the proper spellings, technical terminology, and grammar? Ask about whether the writer is representative of their larger pool.
5. How do you ensure that the content and resources used are relevant to my audience?
This is probably the most important question that you will ask any content service, so be sure that they give you a good answer.
First and foremost, you should seek out a service (no matter where you are in the world) who takes the time to get to know your business. No writer will be able to create great content for you without knowing some important things about your business such as:
- Your audience and/or customer persona(s)
- Your brand voice & personality
- Your content marketing & SEO goals
- Keywords that you're hoping to target, topics you'd like to write about, etc.
Since you may be a unique customer for an American service, you should expect them to take extra time to ensure that their writers understand what you need.
The above categories apply to pretty much everyone, but for agencies working overseas, here are some specific options to ask about:
- Can their writers use industry/technical standards specific to your country?
- Will writers exclusively use resources from Australian/British/Canadian sites?
- If I have hyperlocal or specific information to share, how will I be able to convey that to my writer(s)?
At BlogMutt, we do our best to provide a flexible system. Our basic content plans offer you the ability to choose all your own keywords and topics, request that writers use resources from your country exclusively, and give you ample opportunities to share everything writers will need to know about your business. You can even specify competitor sites that you want to avoid linking to or prestigious sources that represent authorities in your local or industry content space.
We also use a transparent system, so you won't have to tell our writers anything twice. If a writer uses a term incorrectly and you let them know about it, all of our writers can see that feedback, so they'll be sure to use the term correctly in developing future content for you.
That way, our system gets smarter over time, so the longer you're with us, the better we're able to serve your needs.
6. What other resources do you offer to help international clients use your service effectively?
Beyond the content itself, I recommend asking about other types of services created specifically with international customers in mind. Here are some examples of services that you might want to look for:
- Content scheduling in your timezone
- Images relevant to your (or your clients') needs
- Optimization for your keywords
- Managed services at convenient times
- Payment options beyond credit cards
Right now, BlogMutt has customers in over 25 different countries. We work closely with these accounts to constantly improve our site and experience for international customers.
We allow our customers to schedule content for purchase and publishing in their own time zones, select different settings for their individual clients, and six different types of English to ensure that our customers get content ready to be published, no matter where they come from. We also offer payments via PayPal to ensure safe, secure transactions.
No matter where you come from, we'd love to hear from you about the most important features you look for in a content writing service. Have you worked with an American content service for clients in the UK, Australia, Canada, or another country? Tell us about your experiences!
And if you're ready to outsource your content, connect to our sales team and ask how we can create great content for you and your clients, wherever you are in the world.