The good news is, if you’re reading this article, you are probably convinced by the benefits of scientific content marketing already, but you just need to know how to get started.
When most people hear ‘content’ more often than not, they will think of blog articles. But ultimately, there are many different forms of content you can create as part of a life science inbound marketing strategy.
In this article, I am going to explore a few opportunities you can investigate for your science content creation ideas and the advantages and disadvantages of them.
Creating content in-house
One of the first methods I recommend to anybody looking to create content for the first time is to utilise your in-house team.
Your team members are experts in your specific industry, and unless you have lots of similar competitors, there are probably few real ‘experts’ than can add more value than you can. If you have done any keyword research for content you want to create on behalf of your business, then the topics and themes that come up should seem ‘simple’ and ‘basic’ to your staff.
This is your advantage.
This suggests that your colleagues would be capable of producing content that is relevant, insightful and require little additional research to produce thorough content.
However, it isn’t all that simple.
Although writing may be considered the ‘easiest’ form of content to produce, not everybody is a natural writer.
To some, writing is boring and not engaging. As such, your content may be high quality technically, but lack in structure or readability for example.
But even if that’s not the problem, some scientists are very wary of what content that attribute to their own name and reputation. If they’ve published multiple papers, they may not be so happy to publish ‘lower-quality’ content as a blog or article.
And that’s just blog posts.
If you are requesting content formats that require more effort and additional marketing skills – think video or podcasts for example – then your engagement levels from staff are going to be low to non-existent!
To get engagement from your technical staff to help create content, you need to foresee issues.
Firstly, get senior members of staff to fight your cause. This suggests the ‘importance’ of the content you are going to create and will likely lead to better engagement.
Secondly, reduce as many boundaries as possible to prevent people getting involved.
If they don’t want to write a blog, see if they will do an interview, would appear on camera, speak on a podcast, etc. The more options you can give, the more likely that colleagues will say yes.
After all, scientists and technical staff have their own day jobs to do. If you just can’t convince them to get involved if they don’t have the time, maybe it’s time to look at freelancers.
Consider finding freelancers
As more and more businesses move online, the demand for freelancers continues to grow. So much so, that there are now dedicated websites for freelancers; people looking for work and people looking to hire them.
If you or your team is short of time or resources, freelancers are the perfect remedy to solve this. Freelancers offer you a quick and easy way to find additional resources to solve your content challenges. The benefit being that you can usually hire them for as short or as long as required.
Another massive advantage of freelancers are the range of skills that they provide. If you are looking for a specific skill, such as video editing, there are freelancers for that. But if you wanted a general freelancer to cover all aspects of digital marketing, you can also find that. In fact, when it comes to online and digital marketing, or content creation, you really are spoilt for choice!
Depending on your work load, you can even have multiple freelancers working for you at once.
Need some graphic design doing? Get a freelancer!
Need some backlinks building? Get a freelancer!
However, this can start to highlight some of the disadvantages of freelancers. Finding freelancers isn’t an issue, but finding the right ones is. If you are looking for the lowest possible price, there are always freelancers based in Ukraine and India that will do work for ridiculously low prices. However, the low prices are usually indicative of the work quality; a personal assumption not a guarantee!
To counteract potential issues with freelancers, you need to do your due diligence. Ask freelancers for examples of previous work, their work history, or anything else that you deem relevant for the job you are recruiting for. If possible, speak to the freelancer in person over the phone or via video chat, and ensure they can clearly demonstrate their ability.
Even if you do your due diligence, there are always potential issue on the horizon.
You have to ensure that freelancers are – and remain – reliable with their work quality and meeting deadlines. If you constantly find yourself having to continually provide feedback, ask for changes or just ensure that work is done on time, then are freelancers really saving you the time and effort you were looking to save?
Finally, and the reason I’ve left it till last, is the suitability of general freelancers.
If you are responsible for running a science business, you need science related content. This has to be accurate and of high quality, to ensure that your life science content marketing strategy is even worth the effort. Sometimes general freelancers are just not suitable for creating scientific content, but there is alternative to consider!
Or maybe find specialist freelancers
There will always be a place for general freelancers; whether you want some ad-hoc tasks completing or some general work carrying out. But for science related content, being general isn’t enough.
If your business is specialising in products or services that are targeting a specialised audience, you need specialised content. High quality content will always help meet your business goals, whether that’s driving website visitors, generating leads or making sales.
Life science and science-related knowledge takes many years of learning and expertise. Unlike many skills, it is not something that you can teach and learn about yourself to the knowledge that is required for professional scientists. It is no surprise that most scientists need at least a degree before they can be considered knowledgable enough to practice it.
This is why my first point in this article was about recruiting colleagues to do this work for you. They know the industry inside out, and they can produce highly technical and correct information.
But if that’s not possible, that’s where specialist freelancers come in.
Using a freelance site such as Kolabtree – which has over 15,000 freelance scientists and researchers signed up to their platform – reduces the size of your freelance pool, but ensures they have suitable qualifications for the job.
Although the pool of potential applicants significantly decreases, when you look for somebody with scientific AND content generation skills, they do exist. Just like general freelancers, you still need to do your due diligence and check the experience and work history of potential freelancers. Generally this is a bit easier to do using Kolabtree, as scientific expertise is clearly stated and can be referenced.
Being a freelancer is easy. But being a specialist freelancer takes more effort.
Although freelancers, specialist freelancers have still done all the exams and qualifications, and as such, will expect a wage to match their skill set. Where you may be able to get a freelancer for a few dollars per hour – or per content piece – expect the minimum price for a specialist freelancer to be at least 10X the amount.
However, there are still issues with specialist freelancers like there are with general freelancers.
As part of onboarding of any freelancers, you will still need to brief them, ensure their work quality is high and accurate.
This is still going to require time and effort from you side to manage them. But if you can provide as much information as possible, make it easy to overcome obstacles and ultimately respect they probably have other clients to work with, then you stand the best chance of getting high quality scientific content ready to use for your marketing strategy.
Tips for finding, recruiting and retaining freelancers
Finding, recruiting and then retaining good freelancers can be difficult. And it is even harder when you are looking for a niche skill like science, as you just don’t have as many options to choose from.
However, here are some pointers to help finding freelancers as easy as possible:
- Ask for recommendations – save yourself the trouble by asking any friends or colleagues if they have used any freelancers for similar tasks before and whether they would recommend them. This will save you time and help maintain trust from the start of any business relationship.
- Pay as much as you can afford – there are always freelancers that will offer to undercut prices of another freelancer. Although it doesn’t necessarily mean that their quality will be lesser than another freelancer, it could suggest that their skills or experience is less. Generally speaking, paying as much as your budget allows will ensure fewer issues along the line – just make sure they can back up their rates with experience and prior examples of work!
- Make the process as easy as possible – this is a two way street. If you make it easy for freelancers to do the work that is required from the offset; provide them with all the tools and information they need from the start. They are likely to produce better work, with less issues and require less direct involvement. If you keep a freelancer happy, you are likely to keep them longer, and can more than likely negotiate a future discount!
- Do you best to keep good freelancers – if you’ve gone to all the effort to find a freelancer and are happy with their work, do everything you can to keep them happy! This will ensure you don’t have to go through the hassle of re-recruiting freelancers or miss publishing deadlines when you have no content available! Offer more work or better rates where possible to let the freelancer know how much you appreciate their work.
There is no right or wrong way to approach scientific content creation. The options mentioned in this article all have advantages and disadvantages, and as such, you could even use team members, general freelancers and expert freelancers at the same time.
Crucially, to you as somebody with decision making in the marketing team, you want to make it as easy and stress free as possible for yourself.
Creating scientific content is hard work and takes a specific skill set. As such, the cost of creating content will require a lot of time and money to produce. When it comes to creating content, I would always recommend creating surplus content and adding it to a schedule or content calendar. This allows you to account for any problems that may occur with freelancers not being able to deliver on time or who cannot take on additional work.
Always ensure that you create freelancers as a member of the team. If you treat them poorly and like disposable staff, it is likely that the quality of work that they produce will be reflected. Just like any colleague or employee, treat them with respect, give them the time and resources they need and do everything within your remit to make their life as easy as possible!