11 May What You Need to Know to Hire a Content Writer
At The Allyson Group we are copywriters, content writers, and creators of visual content. We produce the kind of information that powers the web – using words and images. Behind those elements are the big ideas, incentives, and calls to action used to market goods and services.
Sometimes we assume everyone knows what we do. But that’s not the case. So, we’ll attempt to demystify copywriting and content services and make clear:
- what professional business-to-business writers do,
- how we charge, and
- what you should expect when you hire a copywriter or content writer to create content for your website, blog, or social channels*
* Print still exists, by the way. And we still write for print. Call to talk about your needs.
What do copywriters and content creators do?
A copywriter – or content writer – is a professional writer who writes the copy used to market products, services, or ideas (usually causes).
The copy may educate, inform or entertain. Its objective is always to move the reader to take an action.
In broad terms, the goal may be to motivate customers to buy, inspire donors to donate, influence voters to vote, and so on. In narrower terms, the desired action may be to “join my mailing list” (i.e., drop your email), “visit my website,” or “read my blog.” This is the level at which we work, although it is all part of the same process.
Companies that use a steady stream of original content to motivate customer actions are employing a strategy called content marketing.
Where Does the Copywriter’s Work Show Up?
Today, it’s mostly about websites, blogs, and social media channels.
In today’s business environment, you would typically hire a content writer to write original articles and create visual content for:
- Social Media platforms
- Email marketing campaigns
- Sales funnels
- Landing pages
- Video scriptwriting
Print or Online
Then, there are traditionally print products that have mostly gone online:
- Long-form articles
- Press releases
- Press kits
- Customer newsletters
The Spoken Word
Sometimes we write words that are meant to be spoken. This would include:
- Video and film scripts
Businesses using the web as their primary way to generate leads are using content as a strategy (called content marketing).
They may require many different kinds of content. This content is the fuel for the online marketing strategy. Every piece of it will be search engine optimized (SEO) – structured, formatted, and seeded with keywords – to be more easily read and indexed search engines like Google. This is what helps companies rank in the first page of consumer search results.
What do you charge for copywriting?
Copywriting will not be the largest chunk of your marketing budget. However, professional accuracy and speed can save you time and heartache and are worth paying for if you have the budget. A competent professional should be able to match the pace of your internal marketing team, if you have one; and can consistently meet deadlines.
You’ll need experience working with a copywriter before you can calculate your own return on investment (ROI). But a freelance or agency copywriter will not cost you for health care and other employee benefits costs you incur with a direct hire, and an experienced professional will probably do your job in half the time of an amateur.
Ways to Pay
Copywriters may charge by the hour, by the project,
Get a Contract
A professional content writing service should be able to give you a detailed proposal based on your needs. The proposal should specify the scope of work. It should also let you know pretty accurately what you can expect to pay.
Like any other business contract, deviations from the proposal/quote should be handled transparently, and increases in cost should require your prior approval (make sure you contract specifies this).
Timeframe is dependent on scope of work, but it should be estimated in the proposal.
Milestones and benchmarks are excellent ways to break up a contract into chunks that all parties can understand. As the client, milestones and benchmarks offer some protection, especially if they are tied to releases of project fees.
Especially with someone you’ve never worked with before, throw in some benchmarks till you see how well they meet project timelines and deadlines. That way you’ll never pay for product you don’t receive.
Content Calendars/Publication Schedules
Professional copywriters will create a content topic list from their understanding of the brand. From there, the integrated team will craft a content calendar.
The content calendar lets the copywriter know exactly when copy will be needed – down to the day and the hour – and which type of content is to be produced for each phase of the campaign, or the calendar quarter.
A content plan is an excellent device for keeping all parties on the same page.
Writers’ Fees: Do a Little Research in Advance
The Writer’s Market , published by Writer’s Digest Books, is an excellent resource for writers, but can also help consumers learn what you should expect to pay for copywriting. https://www.writersdigest.com/pricing-guide
American Writers and Artists, Inc. (AWAI) also has a helpful guide: https://www.awai.com/copywriter-rates/
What you pay may depend on where you live. Products and services tend to cost more on the two coasts, where the cost of living is high. This calculator from Payscale may be useful: https://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=Freelance_Writer/Hourly_Rate
What is the content planning and writing process?
A copywriter is a surrogate for you and your company. The process should always begin with a deep dive into the heart of your brand – your company’s mission, vision, values, workplace culture, products, and brand promise to customers.
The copy will be used to educate your customers and potential customers about the awesomeness of your products and services; how to use them and how to get them, and everything else they need to know to do business with you. The copywriter will have to understand the problem that your products solve for customers, and your unique value proposition (UVP) compared to the competitors in your industry.
Only then can the writing begin.
- Brand Audit
- Key Phrase Research
- Competitor Research
- Taxonomy Development
- Content Calendar Development
This is a quick review of your brand. How you look, feel, and sound online. Is your look and feel consistent? Is your messaging supporting your strategic goals?
Key Phrase Research
We use digital tools to research what
Knowing what others in your field are doing is a basic business function – often, it’s somebody’s full-time job.
Taxonomy describes the network of “Categories” and “Tags” that give order to website pages and make it easier for searchers to find the content they need.
Content Calendar Development
After all the planning, the document that allows anyone to step in and do the writing is the Content Calendar. Sometimes called a Publication Schedule, it’s what allows for all parties to be aligned, no matter who does the writing.
If you have a marketing team, you will want to integrate the internal and the external components. Your marketing director should be involved in selecting the copywriter or copywriting firm, helping make sure you end up with someone who can blend seamlessly with your own people. This synergy will give you the highest chances for success.
The Allyson Group
At The Allyson Group we write expert, original copy for websites, blogs, and digital content marketing programs that articulates the essence of social enterprise and small business brands.
Here’s our list of services.
Still got questions? Call anytime for a free consultation and to talk through your project.