At this very moment, a triple-threat brawl is breaking out in meeting rooms across the globe.
With huge campaigns looming on the horizon, the world’s marketing teams need to answer an important question: “Who on Earth is going to write this thing?”
In most cases, there are three contenders:
- Someone in your organisation
- A freelance copywriter
- A copywriting agency
Each option comes with a very different set of pros and cons. Stick around, and you can see how they weigh in – and which one should win for different project types.
The DIY approach
Doing it yourself (or at the very least, getting someone within your organisation to do it) is a very attractive prospect. After all, you and your people already know your business inside out, you (hopefully) know what you want to say, and not spending money is, well, ideal.
There is a huge downside here though. Controversial opinion alert: not everyone is a writer. I know, shocking.
Yes, most of us can write. But writing something that’s compelling, exciting, and readable – and will convince readers to take action – is a totally different skillset.
There’s a small chance one of your product experts is a genuine polymath, who can write marketing copy with the best of us. But that introduces another problem: good writing takes time. For every hour that technical expert spends writing a blog, ebook, or press release, it’s one less hour they have to do the parts of their job that only they can.
Simply put, the do-it-yourself approach to writing is a useful fall-back if you’ve in-house writing skills, team members with available hours, and – frankly – no spare time or budget to hire an external writer.
DIY copywriting: pros
- Saves time as there’s no need to brief an external writer
- Saves budget as your people are already on the payroll
DIY copywriting: cons
- The copy might not be especially compelling unless you have writing skills in-house
- Takes up valuable time your people could be using elsewhere
Finding a freelancer
If your in-house teams aren’t comfortable taking on the writing, freelancers can be a very useful resource.
Offering deep expertise in specific areas, and often charging less than their agency counterparts, freelancers can offer a strong balance between quality and price.
But as the old saying goes, you can have something quick, cheap or good – pick two.
While a good freelance writer will, of course, do their best to get things done efficiently, they are only one person. Diary clashes, long wait times and delays aren’t uncommon – especially if it’s a large project. And the better a freelancer is, the busier they’ll be – making it even harder to find time with them.
And because your eggs are in one basket, you also increase your risk. If it turns out the writer isn’t a good fit for the job, or something unavoidable comes up that takes them off the project, you have to start the briefing process all over again with someone else.
If you’re taking on a job that has roomy deadlines, or if you want to bring in external skills and knowledge while still keeping costs low, freelancers can be a really good fit. But if deadlines are tight, if there’s a lot of writing to do (say, a website or ABM campaign), or if it’s a high-profile project where you can’t risk anything going wrong, you may want to go with a copywriting agency.
Freelance B2B copywriter: pros
- May offer deep knowledge in particular areas of expertise
- Can often be cheaper than going to an agency
Freelance B2B copywriter: cons
- Need to book projects in early, especially for highly sought-after freelancers
- Can have long turnaround times for larger projects, or if your freelancer has a lot of work on the go
- Risk of having to brief someone else if something comes up and your freelancer isn’t able to complete the job
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…OK, let’s continue…
Hiring a copywriting agency
Cards on the table time – Radix is an agency, I work for Radix, and this is a Radix blog. So, there’s bound to be a slight bias here.
That said, I’ll be totally upfront about the fact that hiring an agency isn’t a good fit for every project. In particular, when there’s no time to brief on a project, or if budgets are especially tight, you might be better off keeping things in-house or finding a good freelancer.
But, the extra time and cost involved in working with an agency are often worth it. That’s because, when you hire an agency, you aren’t just hiring a single writer. You hire a whole stable of them (depending on the size of said agency).
Granted, you may only have a handful of writers on a project at any one time, but in a good agency, no writer works in isolation. They’ll chat liberally about best practices, good turns of phrase, and the nuances of a topic area. So, you get the collective experience, knowledge, and skills of an entire, ace copywriting force.
And, assuming you’ve picked a good agency with a broad roster of writing talent, you’ll get writers with skills that are the best fit for your specific project. That’s pretty important when it comes to delivering the best campaigns, without feeling like you’re herding cats.
With several writers available through an agency, you can also deliver projects much faster. Not only can you scale up and add more writers for big projects, but you’re also more likely to get your work into a writer’s diary faster.
Some agencies also have account managers, the unsung heroes of copywriting and all-round magicians that can somehow get projects delivered on-time against seemingly impossible odds.
Agencies will often charge higher fees than freelancers, but the additional skills and potentially faster turnaround times can be worth it – especially for larger, high-profile, or time-sensitive projects.
B2B copywriting agency: pros
- Higher quality copy because you get the right writer for the right job
- Faster turnaround thanks to the magical powers of account managers
- Can scale up your writing team and deliver big projects in good time
B2B copywriting agency: cons
- Can be expensive especially when compared to freelancers or doing it yourself
- May not have specialist experience unless you can find an agency in your niche (ahem)
Finding the right match for your project
As we’ve seen, all three main options have their upsides and downsides, making them more or less suitable for different projects.
If you’re ever in doubt, we’ve made a handy chart below for you to refer to.
Picking the right type of writing team for your job is just one way to help your campaigns stick the landing. For more content writing tips and tricks, sign up to the Radix newsletter, at the bottom of this page.