This article was originally published on LinkedIn on December 8, 2017.
Many people think that writing services entail drafting, writing and editing only. While those tasks are important, they are few of many that go into completing writing projects.
To provide an understanding of the services you invest in when hiring freelance writers for your books, business communications, blogging, creative writing and online marketing projects, following is a description of services, along with an estimated amount of time involved in completing the service, if applicable.
What You Really Get When Hiring Writers
Brainstorming and Concepting
When you speak to writers about your project, you typically provide topic ideas, possible titles or a list of subjects you want to be included in the final product. None of this information is concrete.
Good writers use their skills and creativity to bring your visions to life. They will listen to what you’re saying; take notes while you’re speaking; and ask questions for clarity. Some may even start formulating ideas while you’re speaking.
During the brainstorming and stage, writers generate ideas. They brainstorm article titles and subjects to include; create outlines to organize topics; and select story angles that best fit your vision.
Amount of time required for brainstorming and : 30 minutes to several hours.
Writers have to read business reports, websites, blog posts, annual reports, press releases and other company documents to gather background information about the project and the organization (if applicable). The time it takes to read depends on the length, tone and complexity of the material.
Amount of time required for background reading: 15 minutes to several hours.
Research is very tedious and time-consuming but must be done for many projects. And there’s a process for researching information.
First, writers have to conduct research to find the sources needed for research. Then they may have to read through books, magazines, academic and scholarly journals, newspapers, case studies and financial records. They may even have to visit the library. Yes, they may have to leave the comfort of their homes, drive to a library, go inside and physically touch materials.
Writers may also have to search and select the ideal media to accompany their projects. Studies show that content which includes photographs, images and videos keep readers interested longer. The time it takes to find relevant and engaging media will vary based on the number of sources they have to look through.
Amount of time required for research: 10 minutes for simple checks to several hours for in-depth research.
Not all projects require interviews, but when they do, the process can be time-consuming.
Before the interview, writers have to brainstorm and determine which questions to ask to get the answers they need for the project. It may take a few minutes to several days to schedule interviews depending on the schedules of both parties. Most interviews run between 20 minutes to 2 hours, depending on the interviewer’s interviewing skills; the comfort level of the interviewee; and the number of questions that need to be answered.
If the writer has to transcribe or summarize the responses to make them easy to understand and flow better, this process can take between 1 and 3 hours.
Amount of time required to prepare, schedule, conduct and transcribe interviews: 2 hours to several hours.
Writing, Editing and Revising
Here’s a quick summary of the writing process: draft, edit, revise, edit, revise…repeat.
Here are two truths about the writing process:
1. There will always be at least one edit because the first draft is never complete.
2. Editing takes more times than drafting.
For example, a writer may draft a simple 500-word blog post in15 minutes. However, it may take 1 hour to edit and revise it. Another 15 to 30 minutes will be used to find images or video to accompany the post. Thus, it takes two hours to complete a simple blog post.
Amount of time required to draft, edit and revise writing projects: 1 hour to several hours.
Depending on the complexity of the project, writers may need to meet with clients several times. An estimated number of meetings should be specified in the contract. However, clients should be billed for any meeting times exceeding those documented, whether they are in person, on the phone or video chat.
Phone calls that exceed 10 minutes are consultations and should be billed as such.
Each writing project comes with a certain number of revisions included in the project which should be specified in the contract. However, clients are responsible for additions and revisions beyond those documented.
Revision requests that change the scope of the project need to be reviewed, re-negotiated and re-priced.
Writers are responsible for creating content only, unless otherwise specified in the contract. Promotion is a different service that requires more skills, more time and more money.
A writer may charge $300 to write press releases and $1,000 to send it to media outlets. These are two distinct services.
A writer may charge $250 to write blog posts and $500 to promote it on social media.
A writer may charge $300 to write newsletters and marketing emails and $500 to manage email campaigns.
Internet service, paper and other supplies used toward the completion of your project should be included in the project rate.
Other Services Not Included in the Contract
Services that will enhance your project but are not included in the contract should be charged separately. These services include, but are not limited to: graphic and website design; traditional and digital marketing; social media and email management; mobile app development; and photo and video editing.
When you hire writers, you’re getting more than drafting, writing and editing services. You’re getting their knowledge, skills, experience, creativity and time. More importantly, you are investing in services that will build your brand; enhance your relationship with customers and partners; and boost your bottom line.