Content marketing is a huge part of modern business. Without content, it's nearly impossible for a website to rank well in search engines, and search engines account for the vast majority of how people find websites to visit. In other words, without content and content marketing, you're going to struggle to make it as a digital or hybrid business.
Among the many different terms and practices found in marketing, SEO, and content, is the phrase "white label."
The term "white label" stretches back decades and comes from the physical product market.
One of the most common ways you might encounter white labeling is products sold on Amazon. Consider these three product listings:
All three of these products are the same thing, with different brand names on the box and the app that controls them. The actual LED strips are the same, the software is essentially the same, and the specs are the same.
So, why would you go with one over another? Generally, each brand attempts to add their own value in some way.
The product is the same, but the added value that the seller provides helps make it a better choice amongst a sea of competitors.
So, why would a retailer provide white label goods? Consider the case of a retail grocery store's store brand items. Store brand items are often the same across markets; the store brand peanuts you buy from Walgreens and from CVS may come from the same peanut seller, but they reach different markets. The retailer is able to have their own brand and offer some kind of incentive to buy their branded snack, or they may be the only regionally-available retailer selling that snack.
White label can also apply to services. A common example is a credit card. Every bank offers some kind of credit card, but the vast majority of them are the same: they're a VISA, Mastercard, Discover, or AmEx card. Everything that makes them unique comes down to added value supplied by the bank, like rewards, cash back, and other incentives.
So, to put it succinctly, white label is "a product with the branding left blank, so the retailer can fill it in and provide added benefit."
In some cases, the fact that a product is white label is hidden. No one talks about store brands all being made by the same handful of companies, after all, and most people view store brand items as unique to that brand.
Alternatively, sometimes a white label is common knowledge, even if it isn't acknowledged. The LED light strips above are an example of that.
In other cases, the fact that a product is white label is part of the value proposition. Credit cards fall under this banner; it's a benefit to be a VISA card because VISA is trusted. So, banks don't hide that their cards are VISA-backed cards.
In marketing and SEO, there are a lot of different white label services floating around. Many of the big names sell their services as white label; they trade their name and brand recognition for a higher fee than they would charge directly.
Company A might offer content writing services, both directly and white label.
Company B may want to sell content writing services as part of their general SEO and marketing package, but they don't want to do the writing themselves, so they use Company A's white label service as part of their package.
A client then purchases a service package from Company B, getting the services from Company A without ever knowing it.
There are benefits to this process for everyone involved, but what are they? I'll run down each of the three perspectives in the deal and discuss the pros and cons.
If you're a business and you need SEO content, should you buy white label service?
If you mean "service marketing itself as white label," the answer is no. You need SEO content; buying white label is specifically for reselling. Most companies that offer white label service also offer their services directly, so you can just buy them directly.
As a note: white label service might be cheaper, but you don't get any of the added support since the vendor assumes the company buying the white label service is providing that support, and you may have significant additional work to do to use it properly. Cost is always important, of course, but you need to know what the quality of service is before cost can be analyzed properly.
If you mean "buying services from a company that buys white label service," the answer is, sure! In the scenario above, buying your service from Company B is perfectly acceptable. You get great SEO content written by Company A (even if you don't know it's coming from Company A), but you also get additional services and value adds that come from Company B. Company A may provide content, but not topic research, link building, or outreach, but if Company B provides those, you can get it all for a package deal.
Are there downsides to buying service in this way? Sure.
There's also the fact that you might not know that Company B is selling Company A's content service. The entire point of the "white label" is that the only name on the box is Company B, so unless it's an open secret or otherwise disclosed, you have no way of knowing.
Now, there's nothing wrong with that. Disclosure is important for business relationships and marketing (such as with sponsored content), but it's not usually a problem in this sort of situation. After all, the electronics you buy aren't branded with the factory where they were made, right? It only becomes a problem if the content you buy from Company B keeps promoting Company A as a service provider, which generally doesn't happen.
If you're a marketing agency and you want to offer SEO content writing services, but you don't want to handle the writing yourself, and you don't want to go through the hassle of hiring and wrangling writers, buying white label content and SEO services can be a viable option.
This kind of deal benefits you because you buy a service for cheap, provide some added value of your own, and sell it for a higher price, allowing you to make money through relatively little effort of your own. It also allows you to resell and provide much better SEO content writing than you would be able to provide independently.
On the other hand, if the fact that you're repackaging white label service comes to light, some people might view your company as unethical for it. Even though it's a perfectly legitimate business deal, some people don't like how it works and may view you as not adding enough independent value to make it worthwhile.
You do also need to provide support and additional work to gain customers, handle issues that crop up, and generally take advantage of the deal. This might mean developing your own additional services, providing top-tier customer support, packaging together other white label services, or some combination of them all.
On the other hand, if you have the capacity to provide high-quality SEO content services on your own but choose to outsource it to a cheaper white label source (or even a non-white-label source that you arbitrate, like just turning around and buying client requests from a content mill), it's generally poor form.
There are two situations where this question applies.
The first is if you're a content marketing agency and you usually do all the work. You do topic research, you do publishing, you monitor comments, you watch analytics and adjust to market forces, you essentially handle the entire blog for a business that hires you.
In this case, offering a pared-down version of your service – just the writing, nothing more – for a cheaper rate can be a good value proposition. All of that additional stuff can be offloaded to your clients, and all you need to do is focus on the writing. It's an easy way to go light on your workload while still getting paid a good rate for your writing.
The trick is that you need to be good enough that your writing is worth packaging on its own without all of your additional services, or rather, with the support of someone else's services. You may also end up in a situation where the requirements your clients ask for on behalf of their clients are complex and strict, so you don't end up working less after all.
The second situation is when you're a freelance writer. You might not think of freelancers as selling white label services, but they really do, just with the question presented in another way. See if this sounds more familiar: should you sell your services as a writer, or should you sell your services as a ghostwriter? Because that is, basically, what you'd be doing.
In both cases, though, the answer is whichever you prefer. If the value proposition and the people you work with are good enough, selling white label (or ghostwriting) services can be a great option. On the other hand, if you end up in a tricky situation with a whale client that stresses you out, you end up in a difficult situation.
If you're interested in providing white label SEO content services, one of the first things you need to do is build up a solid, effective writing apparatus. As a writer, that means doing everything you can to improve your skills and abilities as a writer and marketer.
As a client or content production company, however, it means hiring the best possible writers to create content for you. If that's what you want to do, I have a ton of excellent resources, as well as a job board you can use to find and hire the best possible writers for any topic you could need to cover.
Of course, even if you don't want to sell white label services, you can probably still use a talented writer for your blog, and you're sure to find one through this job board too. Just click to post a new job and follow the prompts, and you'll have applications coming in no time.
Have any further questions? Did I miss something? If so, drop me a line in the comments; I'm more than happy to chat with my readers.
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