As more companies jump into the content marketing fray – 93 percent of B2B marketers are using content marketing, according to the Content Marketing Institute – more agencies are springing up to produce white papers, case studies, blog posts, and other content for companies. But who’s actually writing the content?

Now, I’m not knocking reputable agencies that carefully vet their freelancers and pay them market rate for their work. Those agencies provide companies with cream-of-the-crop content, and engaging them, particularly for midsize companies, is a cost-effective, efficient way to ensure the content pipeline remains full of assets that will enable the sales team and promote thought leadership.

But sadly there are agencies that will hire bargain-basement freelancers from content mills.  These agencies generally charge less than their reputable counterparts, but the content is – well, you know the saying, “You get what you pay for?” In this case, you really do. These agencies hire editors, but not writers. They have strategists, but no one to actually tackle the writing. They’ll farm out hundreds of blog posts to freelancers willing to write for pennies per word. And you’ll never know which freelancer is actually doing the writing.

Not only do you not know who is actually writing your blog posts or white papers, but you don’t know if it’s going to turn out the way you intended. You don’t know if the writer understands your technology or how to write for a B2B audience. You don’t know if English is even the writer’s first language. And while the “agency” will try to cover it up, you’ll still be able to tell that the writing is far from quality.

That’s why, if you’re not going to hire a writer directly (ahem), you need to work with a content marketing agency that has nothing to hide. They’ll introduce you to the writer working on your asset and disclose who she is. You’ll be on the phone with her for strategy sessions and subject matter expert interviews. You’ll be able to find out who she is and what her experience is – and the content marketing agency will have no problem with this, because they’ve already screened her and determined that she’s a very competent white paper writer, case study writer, or corporate blogger.

So ask. Ask who actually is writing the content. Ask if you can talk to her. Ask for her name (if she’s ethical, she won’t solicit you directly). The agency shouldn’t have anything to hide. And I definitely don’t – if you contract directly with me, I’m the one writing your content. Period.