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Writer's Block Nine Reasons to Hire a Freelance Copywriter Print

by Allen Cox

When I was a Marketing Manager in a former career, our company executives sent every manager to a mandatory two-day class on business writing. I and many of my associates assumed it would be a waste of time and money; we could already write perfectly well, or so we thought. I quickly realized how much I didn't know about good writing.

The company was obviously raising the bar on our written communications, and I left class with some worries. Good writing is time consuming. Organizing information, outlining, writing a rough draft, matching message to audience, formatting, and revising, revising, revising – it seemed like a full time job. When would I find time for my real job? And what about all those grammar rules I'd forgotten? The class didn't even mention the mysteries of MS Word,  PowerPoint, and some of the more arcane desktop software out there. Wouldn't it make sense for the company to hire a few professional writers to take the biggest writing projects off our hands?

In this age of leaner staffs, few organizations – large or small – have the luxury of pulling managers off the job for a few days at a time. Organizational leaders have learned that it makes sense for employees to focus solely on critical responsibilities, and eliminating job noise, such as major writing projects, allows them to do just that.

Savvy leaders have discovered nine good reasons why contracting writing projects out to freelance copywriters makes solid sense:

1. Quality

Nearly anyone can hammer out a project status report or a procedural manual, but business leaders who want professional results hire professional writers. It's not necessary that a commercial copywriter be published in magazines, newspapers, the internet, or books, but many are, and it has its advantages. Executives considering a copywriter should take publishing experience as a vote of confidence in the quality of a writer's work; the published writer already has a track record with the toughest of all audiences: editors.

2. Expertise

Some copywriters are generalists, bringing skills and talent to a broad range of writing projects. Others focus on a specific niche, such as ad copy, web content, technical manuals, and more. If your organization has a wide range of written communication needs, a generalist can bring versatility to an array of projects. If you need a writer for only one type of project, e.g., ad copy, consider narrowing your search to tap into a writer's functionally specific expertise. Another important factor to consider is the copywriter's professional background. Ask for a CV; if a copywriter has direct professional experience in your industry, it can be a plus. Regardless of whether you hire a generalist or a niche-writer, you'll gain the advantage of copywriting and editing expertise that most employees lack.

3. Focus

If you are like most managers, you have a dozen things on your radar at once. You probably don't have the luxury of pulling yourself away from your responsibilities and focusing on writing that article you promised for the company newsletter. You have a choice: make time by cutting a few corners in your real job or do it on your own time. No one is suggesting that you never write again, but engaging a freelance writer for those time-consuming writing projects allows you to focus your energy on the priorities that matter.

4. Control

Have you ever been responsible for overseeing several writing projects – all of them priorities – with little time or expertise to complete them well? Contracting with a skilled copywriter gives you a single point of contact for every writing project. Instead of keeping tabs on many loose ends, you can simply deal with one professional, giving you tighter control over the final result.

5. Consistency

Even if your company uses a style guide for its written communications, 10 managers writing official company documents will produce 10 variations in quality and style. Using a freelance copywriter is your opportunity to benefit from a consistent voice and style. This is especially important in writing projects that reach a broad audience (whether internal or external), with whom a consistent message, or lack of it, can impact the audience's perception of company image and brand.

6. Time

Hiring a freelance copywriter is a time management strategy that business leaders are realizing. Professional-looking, well-written material – whether it's a customer letter, a promotional brochure, or a collection of company policies – takes a great deal of time to create. Few managers can spend hours sitting in front of their laptops hammering out copy, and, even if they could, the end result is likely to fall short. A professional copywriter, on the other hand, has time for nothing else but producing first-rate copy.

7. Cost

Whatever terms you negotiate with a copywriter, remember that the whole point is to get the best possible final product when you need it for a lower overall cost than doing the work in-house. Copywriters and copyeditors cover the spectrum of backgrounds and skill sets, and charge a broad range of fees. Fees are typically hourly, but some negotiate a flat fee for an entire project. For a professional writer/editor with experience, work samples, and client references, you can expect to pay somewhere in the range of $40 - $75 an hour. Some will bid as low as $10 an hour and some as high as $125 and up. As with any purchase, you tend to get what you pay for. If a writer quotes less than $35 an hour, you can soundly assume a lack of experience and skill.

8. Room to Negotiate

A freelance copywriter or editor is a contractor, and, as with all contractors, there is an opportunity to negotiate terms. Consider alternatives to the copywriter's standard rate, such as a discount for a guaranteed number of hours, or a flat fee for an entire project. Pay fairly, but make sure the terms make financial sense for your organization.

9. Headcount and Overhead

Since contractors are excluded from headcount and don't receive company benefits, expenses typically shrink when projects are contracted out. Writing projects are no exception. As a former Marketing Manager, I estimate that I spent at least 10 percent of my time on major writing projects, and another 10 percent critiquing and editing copy produced by my staff. Conservatively, that's about one day a week, precious time that I could not spare. Multiply one day a week by a staff of 10 managers and that's 80 hours of salaried time spent writing and editing each week. If that could be cut in half by eliminating duplication and contracting out the most critical writing projects to a freelancer, it equates to one salaried employee that could be eliminated from headcount (in which case the savings would include training hours and benefits) or, even better, retained on staff and redirected to more critical work.

Allen Cox (c) 2008

About the Author:

Allen Cox is a Communications Consultant and Freelance Writer whose work has been published in print and on-line magazines. As a commercial copywriter and editor, he is a generalist whose clients include advertising, consulting, marketing, and high tech companies. Visit his web site at www.allencox.org, or e-mail him at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .


Comments (1)Add Comment
written by joleng16, April 24, 2010
Marketing tip: Is the greatest benefit of your product in the headline of the ad?

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