How to choose your content agency – guide

Your content underpins so much of your marketing – so don’t screw it up.


On this page, we’ll tell you a little more about our guide: How to choose a content agency. This is the most comprehensive resource you’ll find on this subject. (It’s OK, we checked, so you don’t have to.)


Download it. Share it. Use it to quiz content agencies before you make your selection.


We would like to think that you’d consider us as one of those content agencies – but we don’t have to be. We’d honestly rather you make the right purchasing decision.


And we might not be the right fit. We often tell companies that.

In-house, agency or freelance?


While our guide is about selecting an agency for your content needs, we know that some companies plan and produce their content in house. Others work with a network of freelancers. And there’s the chance you combine all three approaches.


In the guide we talk about the pros and cons of each. Two things we’d note: first, even though we’re an agency, we know of great in-house content teams. Some companies win awards for this stuff. Equally, we know of many great freelance creators (writers, editors, designers, videographers, animators and more) – we even use some ourselves, although our transparency means you’d always know that.


Secondly, look out for content agencies as opposed to agencies that offer content. Perhaps it’s not their main activity, we get it. Perhaps content is an afterthought. Perhaps it’s even sub-contracted to a specialist agency like us. 


You will get a better result from a specialist content agency. Our guide explains why.

Who does the work?


You might be thinking a client-agency relationship is a partnership – and you’d be right. There will be work on both sides. But here, what we’re talking about is the modus operandi (the MO) of your agency.


Transparency is a big thing here, too. That’s because many agencies outsource their content to freelancers, many of whom are inexperienced or thousands of miles away and in different time zones. And they don’t want you to know that.


But that’s because they’re specialists in design, PPC, website builds or a dozen other disciplines, right? Afraid not. Even some dedicated content agencies do this. A tell-tale sign is an agency ‘About us’ page that only has a handful of content specialists in a team of 20 or more staffers.


A good content agency should be both proud of its in-house creators – of whom it will have more than a handful, with diverse skill sets and experiences – and proud to stand by and name any freelancers. Freelancers, in this scenario, should be used for reasons such as deep expertise in niche subject areas, native languages or market knowledge. The latter isn’t the same as geographic reach – although that is another valid reason, when you think of hitting deadlines with follow-the-sun working, which we’ve seen at times.

Download now

First name

Last name

Company name


I consent to receive marketing updates

Show me the money


How do agencies charge? Because you need to be comfortable with agency pricing models, as well as know you can afford your investment in content.


The guide talks about several methods – including per item pricing (often in related bundles of content), retainers and hybrid models.


And while we will also cover important areas such as legal and onboarding through procurement departments at larger companies (surprise: some agencies struggle with this), sometimes you just want to know: How much is this going to cost us? We’ll happily talk money.



Lastly, you won’t even need a content agency soon. Right? Not so fast, generative AI. While GenAI has thousands, if not millions, of proponents on various social media platforms, we’re taking the stance that both clients and agencies should tread carefully here.


Yes, AI can help you do some things faster. That doesn’t mean it can help you do things better. AI tends to ‘hallucinate’ – invent information based on a guesstimation – and has not yet nailed fact checking.


Content agencies, on the other hand, are skilled at conducting interviews with SMEs and doing thorough research into niche subject areas, while adding their own human understanding of a problem or solution that matters to a client. Empathy is something that cannot (yet) be replicated by AI but it’s what helps you strike a chord with your reader most effectively.


For these reasons – and the fact that inputting clients’ sensitive data into AI engines could lead to it churning it out for someone else – Collective Content does not use GenAI to create content for our clients. That doesn’t mean that other content agencies won’t. Be curious, ask questions and talk to your agency about their stance on AI to make sure it aligns with yours.