Does Outsourcing Your Business Writing Make Cents?

by Cathy Miller on June 14, 2017

Are you on the fence about outsourcing your business writing?

  • Is your business too small to afford professional business writing?
  • Are you large enough to have your own communications department?
  • If so, how does outsourcing your business writing make sense?

Bottom line: Should you outsource your business writing?

The answer to that question is the universal response ~ it depends.

I know. Don’t you hate that answer?

But bear with me and I’ll share some tips for figuring out how to turn that answer into a definitive Yes – or No. Your answer may surprise you.

Outsourcing Your Business Writing

For purposes of this post, outsourcing is when you hire a professional writer for your online or print business communication.

This post is not about hiring an outside firm to do all your business communication. We’ll assume you keep some (or most) projects in-house.

The first essential point to understand – no matter which side of the keyboard you sit on – is –it’s business.

Like any good business strategy, outsourcing needs to make sense and be dollars and cents smart. Click To Tweet

Calculating Reality

The inspiration for this post came from a guest post I did for writing buddy, Lori Widmer. Every May, Lori sponsors the popular Writers Worth Month.

Lori’s posts and guest posts provide support and practical tips for writers to identify their value as a writer. In my guest post, I took a look at a writer’s value through the eyes of the business client.

It’s business is a mantra I use often.

  • Both the client and the writer should keep the business aspect center stage.
  • Each should ask, Does this make good business sense?

I call the answer to that question, calculating reality. How do you calculate reality? Start with the basics.

It’s More Than “Just” Writing

A common misconception about business writing is simply that – it’s just writing.

Picture yourself as the CEO of your company. How’s that for reality?

Like most CEOs, you have a very busy schedule. You may be a great communicator (or writer) but have little time to devote to the articles you’d like to see in your favorite trade publication. So, what can you do?

Hire a professional writer. Many professional writers act as ghostwriters so your name will go on the byline.

As a smart businessperson, you ask a potential business writer for his or her fee. If you hired writers in the past, you know the article project is more than “just writing.”

The graphic below illustrates the typical services and time to write a 1,500-word article.

That “just writing” project turned into 7 – 11 hours of work. Add more services or team members and that number increases.

Why is this important? Because this becomes your basis for determining if outsourcing makes “dollar and cents” sense.

If you are a CEO of thousands or a company of one, knowing how long a writing project takes is essential to making a good business decision.

The Intangibles

Success is more than managing the expense of doing business. What do I mean? What’s more important than managing expenses?

Imagine you are the world’s best CEO when it comes to business expenses. Your company is a lean, mean fighting machine.

Imagine if no one knows anything about your company. Nada, zip, you’re invisible. Invisibility may be a cool super power but I’ll bet it’s not what you want for your business.

In addition to managing costs, you need to consider the intangibles that help your business succeed, such as the following.

  • Brand recognition, your company’s reputation
  • Your customer and business relationships
  • Knowledge, skills, competencies
  • Culture and values

Adding Up Reality

In my guest post, I shared my basic business formula in determining if you hire a professional writer.

VALUE – COST = PLUS or MINUS

You can use that formula with most business decisions. It combines the dollars and cents with the intangibles.

Using the same evaluation questions I did in my guest post for Lori’s blog, I created the following sample spreadsheet. This is only a guide. You can use your own value process.

 

Dollars & Cents Evaluation

Start by determining how much time and cost are associated with doing the writing project in-house.

  1. List the services required.
  2. Estimate the time needed for each service.
  3. Identify who is the best person to perform those services.
  4. Record each individual’s hourly compensation.
  5. Based on their hourly earnings, calculate the hourly cost.
  6. Add up the total cost of doing the project in-house.

The Intangibles Evaluation

Now comes the tougher part – the intangibles. Ask the following questions.

  1. Do you have the skills needed to do the project in-house?
  2. Do subject matter experts (SMEs) possess both the time and writing skills to complete the project?
  3. Or do you have other staff with writing skills who can clearly communicate the SME’s information?
  4. What would be the outcome if you were unable to complete the project in-house? (e.g., competitive disadvantage, lost productivity, increased costs)

However, for me, the biggest intangible question is ~

Is there more hassle outsourcing or doing the project in-house?

Does Outsourcing Business Writing Make Sense for You?

Do you have a different perspective on business writing?

  • Maybe business communication really is more than “just” writing.
  • You added up the time and cost of your business writing project.
  • And you considered the intangibles.

However, you may still be on the fence. After all, finding the right business writer is huge. In my next post, I’ll offer a tips update on finding the right one.

Do you outsource part of your business communication? What has been your experience?

If you are a writer, what would you add?

BigStock Photo Credit

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Helping you Keep it simple, clear & uniquely yours – contact me for help with your business writing needs.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Anne Wayman June 16, 2017 at 11:01 am

Excellent Cathy. As a writer I can tell you you’ve summed up the situation exactly for both sides of the equation. Great job.
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Cathy Miller June 16, 2017 at 12:17 pm

Thank you for the kind words, Anne. 🙂
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Sharon Hurley Hall June 23, 2017 at 1:49 pm

Great summary, Cathy, and I love the graphics. You’ve given me a good idea about another way to explain things to clients. 🙂

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Cathy Miller June 23, 2017 at 4:05 pm

Thanks for the kind words, Sharon, and I am glad you found it useful. Consider it payback for all the years of great advice from you. 😉
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