The Copywriter's Crucible

Surviving the Vagaries of the Freelance Life

Why hiring a professional writer can SAVE you money. And MAKE you money!

Posted by rachelwriter on July 13, 2009

Photo Courtesy: jypsygen/Flickr

Photo Courtesy: jypsygen/Flickr

Paying top dollar for a service as intangible and subjective as professional writing isn’t always easy for clients.  And, you know what?  I can understand that.  It’s far easier to pay hundreds or thousands of dollars for something tangible—like, say, a shiny new outdoor grill—because you know right off the bat what you’re getting.  You already know what it looks like (brushed aluminum), what it feels like (smooth, heavy, and metallic), when it’ll be ready for use (as soon as you bring it home and unload it from your car), and what its immediate results will be (delicious, juicy steaks, kabobs, and burgers). 

Professional writing, on the other hand, is a different story.  You’re basically making a hefty down payment on a product you’ve never seen before.  And, one you’ll never really be able to see in advance, touch, or (alas!) cook with.  As a client, you’re paying top dollar for something you hope is going to meet your expectations.

But, remember that not everything you pay for is tangible.  I mean, last time I checked, you can’t just walk into your neighborhood Sears and buy a shiny new jar of legal aid, handmade baskets of financial planning, or squeezable tubes of tax preparation.  Still, when you need those services, you pay top dollar pay for them—no questions asked—regardless of the outcome.  Why?  Because you know that if you tried to meddle in an area outside of your expertise, you’d royally screw things up and probably lose a crap load of money as a result. 

Hiring a professional to write your company’s copy should be no different.  If you’re not an expert in the field, it’d behoove you NOT to give it a whirl on your own.  It’s also not in your best interest to pawn the responsibility off to another non-professional.

Here’s why:

• Businesses lose $225 billion each year as a result of their employees’ poor writing, reading, and speaking skills.  (Source: Reading Connections.)

• Employees with poor writing skills can damage a business’s professional image, slow productivity, and lead to erroneous and costly business decisions.  (Source: Journal of Education for Business, 2007.)

• Less than one-third of college-educated employees at a significant number of U.S. corporations possess adequate writing skills.  It’s estimated that this number is even greater among employees of small and medium-sized businesses.  (Source: National Commission on Writing in America’s Schools and Colleges, 2004.)

• A survey of two-hundred Fortune 1000 companies revealed that more than one-third of their employees’ letters, memos, and reports were poorly written and/or confusing.  (Source: Journal for Quality & Participation, 1995.)

• Many employees say their newly-hired college graduates lack adequate writing and communication skills, noting their inability to organize thoughts on paper and proofread.  (Source: Journal of Employment Counseling, 2005.)

So, what does this all mean for you, the business owner and potential client? 

Well, for one thing, it means the chances are good that very few people in your company know the difference between write/right, raise/raze, they’re/their/there, peek/peak, die/dye, and rein/reign.  It also means they probably can’t construct a complete, correct, and coherent sentence.

But, most important, it means that you could risk losing tens of thousands of dollars just by trusting an amateur to write your company’s copy.  Yikes!

Doesn’t it make more sense to invest $5,000 in a one-time service that will pay for itself a dozen times over, rather than paying $100 for a service you’ll later have to “correct” for $15,000? 

I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again: you must consider professional writing as a wise investment in your company’s future.  Yes, it’s a bit risky.  Yes, it can be pricey.  But, when the copy’s good, the results will be great.  And that, if you ask me, is far more mouth-watering than any juicy slab of grilled steak.

 —Rachel

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