How US content teams can stay lean with a little help from Asia

Curating excellent freelance content teams is a costly endeavor in the US. Here's how to hack it, with a little help from Asia.

How US content teams can stay lean with a little help from Asia

Whether you manage a content team or run a news portal, curating great freelance talent is costly in the US. Here’s how to hack it, with a little help from Asia.

I moved to Indonesia from the US several years back and decided to try my hand in the Asian media game. After working with regional players, building a content operation from the ground up, and solving for unique local pain points, my team soon came to realize that there was a big opportunity staring us right in the face. 

It may be something of a taboo, but let me address the elephant in the room plainly. US-based freelance content creators can command — what we here in Asia would consider — high fees because they live and work in the USD economy.

This makes them astronomically more expensive than their equally talented counterparts in emerging Southeast Asia, a place where that extra hundred bucks goes a long way toward paying the bills.

No one is disputing that US-based talent is top-notch. It most certainly is. But let’s be real about the fact that it’s expensive, especially if you as the buyer are a budget-constrained SME.  

American brands, publishers, and content teams stand to benefit greatly from collaborating with wonderful English media talent in emerging markets. So why aren’t more of them doing it? For many, there is a perceived set of barriers to entry. 

Some common hesitational phrases include: 

  • “I don’t know how to pay content professionals in Asia.”
  • “Out of my time zone is out of my comfort zone.”
  • “I know it’s probably more affordable, but I just don’t know how to go about finding appropriate and reliable talent over there.”

These concerns are fair enough. Without eyes, ears, and boots on the ground, how can US content teams be expected to find wonderful and project-appropriate talent that’s on sale?

Here are a few ways American teams can go about sourcing and working with top-tier English content talent in Asia. 

Reserve salaries for the strategic level

Whether you’re producing a high volume of easily digestible stories or a low volume of specialized content, it doesn’t make sense these days to keep a fixed bullpen of writers on the payroll.

Earmark your salary budget for the roles that are going to have the highest impact. For many teams, this will mean stateside creative strategists and project managers.

Keeping content creators out-of-house and on-demand will go a long way in keeping your fixed overheads to a minimum. Once the top layer is in place, it’s time to start the hunt for content creators in Asia. 

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See: Why media publishers in Asia are going asset light

Identify pockets of undervalued talent

If you don’t have any kind of network in media talent from emerging markets, this is something my team and I can help with, especially in the key markets of Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines.

We are already facilitating introductions between excellent and affordable local content talent and large international media brands regularly.   

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See: 3 tips for working with freelance journalists in Southeast Asia

Consistent quality doesn’t mean hiring

One of the notions we love to challenge is that in order to get consistent quality coming out of your media machine, you need to hire in-house editors. This is actually not true.

What’s more important is that you have a set sequence for quality control — a digital framework that you can plug freelancers into, with different designated roles. ContentGrow does exactly this.  

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See: Challenging the status quo is now an imperative for content teams

Tech is your closest ally

Surprisingly, there are many pro editors out there who just straight-up forget about talented individuals they’ve worked with over the years. Out of sight truly is out of mind for these people, especially if they’re in a fast-paced work environment.

The beautiful part about consolidating your freelance team into a workflow management system like ContentGrow is that you can always revisit the veterans who once provided great experiences — regardless of whether six months have fallen off the calendar.

Another priceless asset is the in-app payments system which allows buyers to pay their talent roster instantly, anywhere in the world, without going through the painful invoicing process.    

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See: 17 websites to help you hire freelance journalists

Save time and money when producing high-quality branded content. ContentGrow helps marketing teams work with perfectly-matched freelance writers and journalists at preferred rates. Fill out the form below to get your own shortlist of talent or visit the site to get started.

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