Thursday, 12 April 2012

Outsourcing Contents to India

A quiet revolution is happening in many home offices in India.  Yes, as an English speaking country, the professional skills of Indians have always been courted for our professional skills many Indians today are creating content for companies across the world from the confines of their homes. They are managing websites, doing research, creating case studies, designing newsletters, writing blogs, and fashioning tweets.

From “global” Indian authors like Arundhati Roy, Rohinton Mistry and Jhumpa Lahiri to “global” Indian content creators is just a skip and a jump. India’s thriving media and entertainment industry, combined with the IT revolution, has created a large pool of highly skilled and proficient creative and technical writers, journalists, story writers, script writers, copywriters, editors and proofreaders. Teachers in India have the experience and qualification to write textbooks in English on most subjects. So, outsourcing content to this new breed of Indian content creators will be the natural progression for global companies. And at V Create Media, we have started experiencing it!

Ofcourse companies who wish to outsource their contents will naturally have many concerns in this regard. 

So here are the answers for your FAQ’s to walk through the content writing process

1.      What are the advantages of outsourcing contents?

By outsourcing your works, you can save considerable time and money, which could be spent more productively in building your business. The cost of outsourcing, calculated based on the salary of an employee per month and then adding other costs like insurance, management, office rent, computer software and hardware etc is any way less. At the same time you can address your diverse requirement, through a single point contact.

Since a writer can be contracted on a month by month basis it also can save money because they can work only when needed and save the expense of having someone idle when work is not required.

You can outsource a wide variety of content writing projects to India. India has a large pool of graduates who speak English and write fluently in English.
V Create Media has an incredibly diverse and talented pool of writers who can write on a wide range of topics in a variety of styles.

2.      What are the kinds of contents that can be outsourced to India?

You can outsource any type of contents to India. Here are some to pick:

  • Business Writing 
  • -case studies, trends, management, HR
  • Technical Writing
  • - software, training manuals, guides, tutorials
  • Magazine / Blog Articles
  •  news, social, travel, art, health, how to do’s
  • Newsletters
  • for companies and individuals
  • White Paper Research and Writing
  • medical, biomedical, technology, engineering, construction, real estate,   marketing, art
  • Tutorials
  • ESL, technology, math, science, English
  • Product Descriptions
  • for brochures, websites, marketing collaterals
  • Editing
  • books, articles, magazines, websites, courses
  • Travel Writing
  • reviews and site selection
  • Copy Writing
  • for brochures and other marketing material
  • Blogs
  • content generation and updation on any topics
  • Keyword Rich Content
  • SEO, copy writing
  • Ghost-writing
  • biographies, stories, how to do’s

3. How can I select a vendor in India?

There are many service providers that offer content development services from India. So, zeroing in on a single one can be a difficult task. However, don’t get carried away by the appearance of the provider’s website or the contents you see on the vendor’s portfolio ( as many of them may be provided by the clients).

Instead, try to evaluate the diversity of the team and their work policy and client relationships. The vendor’s website is an important piece of information that gives you cues on how the vendor works. How well is the content organized? How clearly does it communicate the central thought? Does it have a consistent style and smooth flow?

You will have to take the plunge and try them out. And we recommend getting to know a vendor by starting with a pilot project. When the vendor is contacted from the site how long does it take them to respond is an indication of the service that you will get.
Don’t get stuck on the “lowest price”. Rather, look for a vendor that provides complete solutions, gives you suggestions and adds value to the content development process.

4.      What is the ideal method of communication with the provider?

Your vendor or offshore service provider should be able to communicate with you clearly and easily, by phone, email and live chat. It is best to put your requirements down in writing as different styles of pronunciation can cause misunderstandings.
Your vendor should have a system in place, from the understanding of the job to the Service Level Agreement to the payment mechanism and the final delivery. You may ask for samples of writing before awarding the contract, and for revisions in the draft before approving the final content.

5.      What is the style of Indian writers writing in English?

Due to the colonial influence of the British, Indians are well-versed with British English, and their wide exposure to American TV serials and movies has made them familiar with American English too. If you are an American, you may find that the Indian style of writing English can be more formal and wordy. It you have some writing guidelines, it may help and you can as well request for modification in style. Setting the language of the word processor to American spelling takes care of consistency in spelling.
Some of these issues can appear in the delivered product. For example it is very hard for an Indian writer to write funny advertising copy for an American audience. The super bowl commercials are funny to an American audience. Again, don't expect a non - American to laugh at Far Side cartoons. However it is much more likely that an Indian can write for an American audience than an American for an Indian audience. Because of TV and other influences Indians are familiar with American culture.

6.      What are the potential problems when outsourcing to India?

Doing business with Indian vendors may have some initial teething problems, as with vendors from any other country, because of cultural differences. Ensure that you are partnered with the right company and also be patient and persevering. Building a relationship with your vendor will smoothen the way to a positive business experience. For example, it may take some time for a writer to understand exactly what an American customer expects but given the time, the writer can adjust. In the West, the orientation to business is primarily time-task-cost oriented while in India the vendor focuses on building relationships with clients first. Expectations of the level of quality may create some problems
But do take care of the red flags that you should watch out for, like:
·         breakdown in communication,
·         small broken commitments in the early stage,
·         excuses at early stage, delay in the project taking off, and
·         unsatisfactory work at the approval stage

 7.     How do I negotiate terms?

Cost of projects would depend on its scope, skills needed, magnitude and urgency of works.Many writers prefer to stick to monthly payments. But there are many other ways of working with us. For example we can work on a project by project basis or per article rates. Although some professional writers have per word or per page rate, there are per project rates as well.
You may find yourself comparing costs in this way, but the quality of writing is even more important than the number of words. Writing for the web, for instance, requires search engine optimization by judiciously using keywords in the text. Some writing requires a writer with experience and insights. The cost for this will be higher than say a simple news article or product description. Expect to pay well for this kind of high end writing.
There is a big range of writing and thus costs. In order to help the vendor to give you an accurate estimate of the cost, the nature and magnitude of work has to be made clear first.

8.   How Do I Pay?

Many content providers in India do not have access to the ecommerce service providers that you may be familiar with, like Paypal (which requires an American bank account.). However there are other options of payment which make transactions easy.

  • credit card (several Indian banks have tie-ups with American banks)
  • PayPal as some companies offer PayPal on their website
  • check, however the money takes 20 days to be credited.
  • wire transfer (this costs an extra $30-50 per transaction)
  • Western Union Money Transfer – if the amount is lower than 
  • $500. This enables you to pay in dollars and the vendor can realise the money in Indian rupees
And the time of payment also depends upon the project requirements.

9. Are there any guarantees I can expect?

  • Project progress reports
  • Delivery on schedule
  • Refund of money if not satisfied

10. How can I track the status of my content development project?

Many American or European customers have a fear of outsourcing a project to India. Perhaps they think they will not know what is happening with the project- a fear of the unknown. A good vendor will recognize this and make sure there is a good flow of information both ways. The best way we have found to accomplish this is to stay in contact with the customer through mails. You can expect answers with 12 hours of any email question 6 days per week.Online collaboration tools like socialtext provide an easier alternative.



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