Ink Thinkin

Random thoughts from Dy Larson of Ink Think, freelance editor and copywriter

Sunday, July 15, 2007

July Taylored News Column

A few months ago I began writing a monthly column for Taylored Business Services' newsletter. You can read this month's article, about what your freelance writer wants you to know before you solicit a bid, below.

To find out more about TOS, a bookkeeping and virtual assistance firm, or to sign up and see the whole newsletter in your inbox every month, visit their website at


What Freelance Writers Want From You

You’ve decided to hire a freelance writer for your project. You’ve done your homework, you know what kind of writer you need, you know how to vet them. You’re ready to start making some calls—now what?

Those calls will go a lot smoother if you have some information handy when you talk to the writer. Here are some things they need to know from you in order to give you an accurate estimate for your project.


Know as much as you can about your project’s details. What type of project is it--white paper, brochure, web copy? Will the writer be expected to work with a web or graphic designer? Is there an in-house style guide or a particular tone you are looking for? All of these factors affect the quote and whether or not the writer will be willing or able to do the job.


Length/amount is important enough that I broke it out from the general job description. Your writer’s idea of an average speech may not be yours. For example, I spoke to someone who wanted a 20-minute speech written, about 6000-8000 words. I know the average presenter speaks 100 words per minute, up to 120 for a nervous speaker or one in an intense, high speed atmosphere (sports casting, for example), which makes a 20-minute speech 2000 to 2400 words. Had I quoted *my* estimated length for a 20-minute speech we would have run into a serious difference of opinion over the finished product.


This is crucial. You know what has to happen on your end for a project to be approved, things the writer may not be aware of, in-house reviewers, a board that has to agree on the language of a piece, etc. If the final print deadline is the 30th and it has to go through two committee reviews first, don’t tell the writer the deadline is the 30th. Tell them you need the first draft in time for you to run it through those committees and have any changes they ask for made prior to the print deadline. This makes everyone happy, you, your committee, the writer, and keeps you from getting stuck with those pesky rush fees.


Talk to your writer about your communication expectations, if you want them to check in every few days, every week, every time they receive something from you, etc. You also need to let them know your communication availability. If they need to get with your marketing guy about some statistics for the sales letter, make sure the

marketing guy isn’t going to be on vacation right before the deadline—things like that. Communication has to be two-way and both you and the writer need to be up-front about your expectations and obligations to one another.

If you know these things in advance, and can discuss them intelligently, you’ll quickly become a writer’s favorite client. You’ll also get a more detailed, more accurate quote for your work.



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