Why Hire a Content Writer? What they’ve brought to the world of online business and 3 reasons detailing how they’ll help your enterprise grow
By Michael Shufro
To capture a person’s attention online today for more than the length of a single sentence has become both an art and a science. Consumers demand immediate access to small, easy-to-digest portions of data from vast libraries of knowledge. In response to this, the Internet has raised an industry of digital wordsmiths, collectively called content writers.
Put to work by corporations, non-profits and most often small businesses, they write our ads, compile our reports, update our social media accounts and compose the literature of our websites. With nearly 90 percent of online entrepreneurs employing some form of content writer, they are the verbal thread linking business leaders to global markets, and they are a crucial element for the success of just about any enterprise active online today.
Value #1: A Small Investment with a Big Payoff
For entrepreneurs, the added costs of a website, from its development to its continual updates, can throw a wrench in one’s budget. As a way to cut corners, many small business owners try to tackle writing their own content, and in theory this makes sense. After all, they are the ones who know most what needs to be written. The problem is, even if they have some basic grasp of English composition, most entrepreneurs lack the time-earned skills, knowledge and experience of professional content writers.
For consumers, the quality of a company’s content is a direct reflection of its inherent value. Its words are the building blocks of its online identity—they define its personality and distinctiveness and sell or fail to sell its services and products.
The cold hard facts reveal poorly written content drives consumers away and puts a bad name to a business’s integrity and credibility. According to a study sourced in a BBC News article, a single typo can cut a company’s online sales in half today.
In the Los Angeles Business Journal, UCLA Business Instructor JoAnn Killeen writes, “Billions of dollars in lost productivity can be traced to employees who are not capable of writing clearly and concisely with a focused message for their intended audience.”
Content writers provide the entrepreneur with an opportunity to invest in the written power of their ideas. And for what is most often a modest cost the payoff can be substantial. Strong content has proven to not only radically increase an organization’s visibility on the Internet, but also to build reliable, longer-lasting relationships with consumers. In the digital world, social media, blogs and articles shape a company’s voice and engage a global network saturated with potential clients, partners and communities.
According to global marketing firm Demand Metric, content marketing today costs 62 percent less than traditional marketing and generates about 3 times as many leads.
Depending on numerous factors, writers charge anywhere from nothing to several thousand. Some writers offer flat-rate fees while others charge per hour, per individual piece or per word. In a 2012 survey, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics averaged the median hourly rate of a technical writer at $31.49 and writers of all kinds at $26.89. I recommend hiring no one for under $50 for a very small job, the central reason being anyone offering such cheap services will likely provide cheap-looking work.
In short, a skilled content writer will not only provide the value of an articulate voice for a business, but also safeguard it from the damages that poor writing will extoll upon it.
Value #2: A Marketable Voice and Third-Party Perspective
CEOs and business owners often become master jugglers of information, simultaneously handling both the inner workings of their company and its bigger picture. While this skillset can be invaluable for a company’s success, it often impedes the entrepreneur from translating the complex network of their ideas into simple laymen’s terms.
Content writers act as a sounding board for a business owner, helping to articulate an organization’s voice and vision in just the right words. In my own work, I’ve translated hours of idea-driven dialogue with CEOs into a short simple string of sentences.
Just as CEOs are master jugglers of information, skilled content writers are master distillers of information. Before the writing process begins, they’re conducting research and becoming self-trained experts in their client’s products and services. Then, cutting each and every convoluted tangent, insignificant fact and cliché snippet of corporate speak, they express only what is necessary and desirable for the consumer and entrepreneur. Along the way, they make sure to keep in tow with the organization’s message while leaving room for eloquence. When all these elements play in sync a dense newsletter or fact-heavy website can be framed into a concise engaging narrative.
Value #3: An Editor’s and Designer’s Eye
Content writers often double as editors, applying a fine-tooth comb to each word and morsel of grammar before publishing it online. While it may sound trivial, editing is time-consuming and arguably the most important task a writer can perform for a company. And, a clunky-sounding phrase or misspelled word can be more destructive than most people might reason on first glance. The truth is messy sentences stick out and are often the one thing people remember after reading a website’s content.
In short, skilled content writers provide clean, near-flawless copy.
Many content writers also possess a fluency in the language of the Internet. Some specialize in the science of Search Engine Optimization (SEO); others have expertise in the design and layout of content; but nearly all are learned in the styles and etiquettes of digital communication (whether it comes in the form of websites, ads, blogs or info-blurbs), enabling companies to speak and be heard in the online market.
Michael Shufro is a freelance writer in the San Francisco Bay Area. He serves as a contributing editor to Women’s Global Leadership Initiative and previously worked as the Santa Rosa Correspondent for the Press Democrat, a then New York Times Company. His writing has appeared in Transfer Magazine and the Bohemian among other publications. He is a graduate of San Francisco State University’s journalism and creative writing program. To contact Michael, email firstname.lastname@example.org.