hire freelance writers

Should You Hire Freelance Writers?

Most companies need fresh content from time to time. But because their need might not be on a regular basis, hiring freelancers may be more prudent than hiring a full-time employee.

There comes a time in every organization’s life when new copy becomes a necessity. Whether it be for new web pages, an updated company history, or an in-depth white paper, you’re going to need the right person to do the job.

When you find yourself in that position, do you task your HR team to hire a new employee, or do you tap your network for a referral to a trusted freelancer?

The decision isn’t as hard as it may seem. It really boils down to your business type and long-term content needs.

The Happy Freelancer

Freelancers can be great. They’re enthusiastic about the work, curious about your needs, and determined to deliver on time. Here are some other great benefits you get when you hire freelance writers:

  • No taxes, health insurance, or other benefits to cover
  • No sick or vacation time to pay
  • Low overhead (freelancers typically work remotely, covering their own expenses on their own equipment)
  • You hire based on one skill set or specialty, instead of trying to find someone who is an expert in multiple disciplines

You also have no long-term commitment to the freelancer. Once the job is done to your mutual satisfaction, there’s no potential for a nasty breakup.

And when you need one again, you hire one. What could be easier?

Employee “Benefits”

However, you may better benefit by hiring a full-time employee, depending on your specific situation. Here are some reasons to go this route:

  • Content strategy is crucial to your success, and you need a dedicated Content Manager to regularly create copy
  • They are in the office every day, becoming part of your corporate culture
  • They write for you and you alone, whereas freelancers can have any number of clients at any time
  • The full-time employee is part of your long-term growth

That’s not to say that freelancers can’t be part of your growth as well. I’ve had many copywriting clients hire me several times for new original content. I’m as involved in their success as I would be sitting in their office every day.

A Third Option?

However, there could also be a third option. You already have a full-time staff., so why not let them write the copy for you, even if copywriting isn’t part of their skill set?

That’s somewhat akin to letting your plumber fix the brakes on your car, even if they are a bit of a backyard mechanic.

For example, let’s say you need the aforementioned white paper written. You already have someone on staff who, among other things, writes the occasional blog for you. Should you hire a freelance white paper expert, or task your blogger with something they’re not experienced with?

Believe it or not, white papers and blogs require two somewhat different skill sets. In this case, the freelancer is your best bet. They will be able to get the job done faster, and produce better results than someone whose specialties lay elsewhere.

Not only that, you’re saving your internal resources to do exactly what they do best. Which is why you hired them in the first place.

Try a Freelancer

In the end, determining how often you’ll need new content may be the deciding factor in determining whether you hire a freelancer to supply original content. But if your needs suggest so, why not try a freelancer? I’ve worked with lots, and I’m happy I did.

Have you worked with freelancers? Tell us about your experience in the comment section below!

small business tips, business writing

Three Quick Tips for Great Business Writing

Great business writing is within your reach, if you’re willing to go beyond the basic fundamentals of written English.

Here are three quick tips to supercharge your written copy!

When you think of essentials in business writing, what comes to mind?

Correct spelling? Proper grammar and punctuation? Knowing the differences between “their”, “there”, and “they’re”?

Yes, these simple rules are important. But truly great business writing goes beyond these basic fundamentals.

Check out these three tips to supercharge your written copy!

Tip #1: Know your Customers’ Pain Points

So, why do your customers come to you? Clearly, it’s because you’re the expert in your field, and they need your help.

But help with what? You won’t know when they come to your website, because there’s no opportunity to ask them.

You need to anticipate what your customers will need before they come to you, and tailor your copy appropriately.

For example, if you’re in financial services, what do your customers worry about the most? Financial security? Long-term income? Retirement savings? Address these concerns in your copy. Spend less time talking about you, and more time discussing how you can help your customers realize their dreams.

After all, I don’t care how many letters a financial advisor has after his or her name. My only concern is that they help me achieve my financial goals.

Tip #2: Don’t Try to Impress with Fancy Lingo

Anyone who has ever worked with me knows I’m I big proponent of Simple English, often using a computer store scenario to demonstrate its effectiveness.

If you confuse your customers with fancy tech talk, they’ll spend too much time trying to figure out what you’re talking about, and not enough time hearing your message.

Not only that, you risk making these potential customers feel “less than”. It’s always nice when your knowledge is recognized, but if you employ a bunch of industry terms and fancy lingo when communicating with a layperson, chances are they won’t be engaged.

In other words, if they can’t understand you, they may not think you understand them.

It would be great to discuss quantum theory with Stephen Hawking, if I could speak on his level. Perhaps I’ll save it for Neil deGrasse Tyson.

Tip #3: Get People to Do Something

When you get right down to it, you’re not creating copy to simply show off your writing chops. You’re trying to get your readers to do something.

[tweetthis]Your business copy needs to be tailored to what you want your readers to do.[/tweetthis]

I recently wrote copy for a specialty food store. The goal was more than showcasing the owners, their neighborhood, and their products. My mission was to write copy that induced a hunger response.

For example, visualize a cheese wheel. How would you describe it? You could just write “cheese wheel”, but a better idea would be to describe the cheese’s subtle pungency and nutty, buttery taste, that will literally melt in your mouth.

Another example would be a button that you’re dying for the reader to press. Easy phrases that start with “Learn more right now…”, “Download this valuable document…”, or “Benefit today from…” can go a long way to getting your readers to do what you want, thus keeping them on your website.

And that’s what you want, isn’t it?

Great business writing is within your reach. Following these three tips will help your content stand above your competitors, thus increasing customer engagement.

worst places to write

The 10 Worst Places to Write

Need somewhere to create that compelling content? Whatever you do, avoid these 10 worst places to write.

All writers have their favourite places to write. Mine is my couch. In fact, I’m on it right now.

But there are some places where even seasoned writers just can’t seem to find that proverbial muse. We polled several of them for their “favourite” worst places to write, and while you might be able to relate to some of their responses, others might surprise you.

10) Around their kids: Yep. Little ones are a constant distraction, from wanting more milk to needing the channel changed. They also tend to peek over your shoulder, breathing down your neck as they inspect what’s keeping you from showering them with attention. But who can blame them for being curious about what you’re doing? It looks so interesting…for about three seconds.

Then it becomes all about them again. Pouring milk. Changing channels.

If you have teenagers, you’re slightly better off. They won’t want anything to do with you, as long as there’s food, TV, and available car keys. So you’ll have lots of time to write, probably about how much you miss them being little.

Face it: no matter how old they are, you’re screwed.

9) Near the TV: In this on-demand world, you can watch whatever you want, whenever you want. So, you can always catch up on those episodes of Modern Family that you missed.

In fact, why not watch them right now? They’ll just be on in the background while you write.

Two hours later you’re caught up on watching, but the page will still be blank. Stupid TV.

8) In the Nude: Ok, not really a “where”, but a “state of undress” is still a state, isn’t it?

They say that Oscar Wilde used to write in an empty room, completely naked, so he had no distractions. But that was in the days of pen and paper, before the threat of having our web cams broken into existed.

But leaked nude pictures have actually helped some careers.

Would it help yours? Hmm….

7) Around a cat: “Feed me.”

“Be my scratching post.”

“Your keyboard looks warm – I think I’ll lie on it.”

“Chase me away and I’ll stare at you from across the room. Try to concentrate now, human, under the powerful gaze of my stare.”

“Just try.”

“Ha! Knew you couldn’t.”

6) Home: See ALL of the above. If you have no kids, no pets, no TV, and enjoy wearing clothes, you might be okay.

Oh wait, there’s wine?

5) Anywhere you can access Facebook: WiFi is everywhere, so the temptation to check your Facebook newsfeed, upload some pictures, or play Candy Crush can be insurmountable. For authors, theses distractions are all too common.

In fact, I ran this poll on Facebook and got a huge response. Point proven.

4) On Date Night: You think the cat has a powerful death stare? Check out the one on your partner when you bring the laptop to date night.

The cat will probably never leave you, but your partner might.

Then again, look at all the time you’ll have to write now.

3) In the Mall: Great for people watching. But the constant stream of humanity flowing by can be too entertaining to be distracted by writing. People are just too darn fun to miss!

Maybe avoid the mall. Besides, nothing in the food court is brain food. More like drain food. For mall rats.

2) At Work:  Hee! I know someone who actually did this! Good thing their boss was away at the time. Make sure yours is too before you use company time to write your retirement book.

Unless, of course, you’re prepared to live solely on a typical writer’s income. If you like Kraft Dinner three times per day, you might not mind so much.

1) Starbucks: Strangely, few mentioned coffee shops in general. Starbucks was specifically named, so I suppose Timothy’s and Second Cup are fine.

What’s the difference that makes Starbucks stand out in such dubious fashion?

They’re noisy. Every Starbucks I’ve been in seems designed to broadcast every whispered conversation so that you drown in a cacophony of voices.

They’re crowded. Good luck getting a table, no matter the time of day.

And, worst of all, they’re stereotypical. “There’s ANOTHER writer with his laptop, taking two hours to drink his coffee!”

Where do you find it impossible to write? Leave your answer in the comments below!

translation services

Be Diligent with Translation Services

Online translation tools are fun. But they can’t take the place of professional translation services.

We’ve all played with translation tools such as Google Translate and Bing Translator. They’re great for translating simple phrases, such as “how are you?”, that basically mean the same thing across most languages.

But when it comes to communicating important messages to a foreign-language audience, the overall meaning of similarly simple phrases can get lost when using the same technology.

Consider the common English phrase, “I’m going to catch a bus.” Most people in the English-speaking world who use public transit are familiar with what this means.

But you can’t always translate that literally. In French, for example, there are many verbs that might apply. Choose the wrong one, and your French readers might get confused. How can one actually “catch a bus”?

Translating the same phrase to Mandarin can cause the same issue. In Mandarin, the correct phrase translated to English reads, “I am going to follow the bus.”

This might sound strange to Western ears, but it’s completely understandable to those fluent in that language.

Have you ever used the Bing-powered translation tool on Facebook? I find myself still mystified as to the meaning of the foreign-language post after seeing the English “translation”.

Clearly, a lot of work went into these tools, but they can’t be relied upon for overall credible translation.

Using a freelancer might work, but if you’re not fluent in the language, how will you proof the work?

I heard a story where a marketing piece was translated from Japanese to Chinese, using traditional script. The piece almost went to press, but the client caught two lines of Japanese still in the copy just in time.

Can you imagine the fallout had the client not been familiar with the difference in script, and the piece had gone out as is?

Thousands of dollars wasted. Reputation? Gone.

So unless you want to take a Berlitz course to learn your target language,  you should consider hiring a reputable translation company that offers at least three levels of translation and proofing.

It’s an expensive undertaking, but poor translation can result in long-term costs that no business wants.