• Hannah McCreery

I'm ready to outsource my content writing, but how would that work?

Updated: Jan 15, 2019

You know it’s time to hire a writer, to bring in an expert who knows what they’re doing so you can get back to spending time where it's most valuable.

You understand smart content will improve your reach, resonate with your target market, draw customers in and ultimately improve your bottom line. But it’s starting to become a real drag.

Copywriter hard at work

Maybe you’re running out of ideas for blog posts or starting to repost social media content and it’s sucking up way too much of your time. It doesn’t feel natural and you’re not even sure it’s resonating with your customers.

So, yes, you’re definitely ready to hire a content writer, but you’re a little unclear about how it all works.

You're probably asking yourself: What will it cost? Will they do a good job? How will they get to know the ins and outs of my business quickly enough to write quality content that achieves my objectives?

These are all valid questions. If you haven’t worked with a copy or content writer before (or had a bad experience), the process might seem a bit hazy.

Let’s clarify some of those questions.

How much will it cost?

This depends on lots of things: The writer’s level of experience and skill, the type of project and how much input you want from them in terms of content strategy and topic ideas, for example.

Some copywriters charge by the hour, but (because that doesn’t tell you much), many will quote for the entire project up front. That quote should outline exactly what’s included (number of revisions, research, discussion time etc).

A price for the entire project can provide more certainty and clarity for everyone. If your copywriter or content writer gives you an hourly rate, you can always ask if they’ll consider providing a project rate instead.

Remember, you’re not just paying for words on a page, you’re investing in the outcomes that these words will achieve for your business. And choosing the right words to do this is a skill.

But you want to know numbers, right? Hourly rates can range from anything between $60 - $150+ but from my experience, the average seems to sit around the $80-$100 mark. In terms of project costs, here are some of my ballpark estimates for some common services to give you a rough idea.

How do I know they’ll do a good job?

If you’re hiring a writer, it’s likely that writing is just not your strength (or, of course, you simply don’t have the time). Because you find writing tricky it might be hard to understand how someone else who knows nothing about your business could possibly do your story justice.

Just remember, copywriters are skilled and experienced at doing exactly that. If they take a good brief (which includes getting to know your business and what you want to achieve), they shouldn't have any trouble and you'll likely be pleasantly surprised at the outcome. They’ve spent years getting up to speed with businesses (from all sorts of industries) quickly so it comes naturally.

Plus, good writers are great listeners. They know how to write for the customer, to keep an ear out for nuggets of gold and weave these into the content to showcase your best side.

In saying that, it’s important to do your research. Look into your copywriter, check out client testimonials, have a good read over their website and make sure you choose someone who’s got the goods.

Like any service, there are excellent copywriters and there are average ones. A good sign is a thorough brief – you can always tell how much effort they’re putting into understanding your business by the importance they place on the brief.

How long will it take?

Good copywriters are usually booked up a couple of weeks in advance (at least). So think ahead. There’s also revision time to factor in and most copywriters will include two rounds of revisions in their quotes and timeframes.

So it really depends on the size of the project, but say for a standard 4-5 page website, you could be looking at a project duration of 2-4 weeks plus lead time. So to be safe, get in at least a couple of months before your deadline.

Of course, if you’re looking for regular content (say a monthly blog), this can be scheduled in months in advance.

Who keeps the project on track?

Your copywriter should take on the project management role. We set the timeframes and deadlines at the beginning of the project so it’s crystal clear what’s expected from both us.

You’ll know exactly when to expect the first, second and final draft and when you need to provide feedback.

This should all be outlined by the copywriter at the beginning of the project.

What’s the process?

Each copywriter has their own process, but it could go something like this:

  1. Initial contact – you tell your copywriter about your project.

  2. Quote – they send you a quote to approve (and details of what’s included). They will likely also ask for a deposit.

  3. Briefing – they'll arrange a full briefing (how this works varies – generally, I like to set aside 60 minutes for a phone conversation). Timelines will be discussed at that point.

  4. First draft – you receive your first draft to review. (I like to include a running commentary on why I make certain word choices, or where I might like you to take a close look at something for example).

  5. First round of feedback – you provide thoughts on the first draft.

  6. Second draft – you receive a second draft to review.

  7. Second round of feedback – you provide final feedback.

  8. Third draft – you receive a third (and usually final) draft.

  9. Wrap up - project is finalised, invoice is sent and your copywriter may ask for a review or testimonial.

Any other questions? Feel free to shoot me an email and I’ll be happy to answer them.

About the author

Hannah McCreery is an experienced copy and content writer, editor and proofreader.

She works with businesses, agencies and non-profits in Auckland, Hamilton, Tauranga, Taupo and further afield to Palmerston North, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin and beyond, helping them find the right words to showcase their best side.

Get in touch for a chat about whether Hannah can help. If she's not right for the job, she'll put you in touch with someone who is.

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