Who do I hire to write content? Freelancers or an in-house team?

You want premium content that nails the brief and tone of voice (TOV), resonates with your target audience, is optimised for SEO and … well, the list goes on, but you get the picture. 

You need a writer (or a team of writers) to get those scintillating words on a page. The question remains, do you hire freelance writers or build an in-house team?

Here’s the good news: all the info you need to make the best hiring decision for your business is right here. Keep reading to learn the pros and cons of hiring freelance and in-house writers. 

Working with an in-house team

Writers working in-house benefit from a sense of belonging, security and growth opportunities. Their skills can be moulded and elevated as required, and they can grow to be phenomenal writers given the right training and guidance.

But are you ready for an in-house team? And is it the right hiring strategy for your business? These pros and cons of building an in-house team will help you answer these questions.

In-house: the positives

1. You could save money 

Say you decide to hire one person to write everything rather than have a team of specialists. This could be more cost-effective than hiring several freelancers (but see ‘the negatives’ below for further considerations). It’s also easier to maximise an employee’s time to get the most out of their working day, as freelancers will have other commitments.

2. You can shape their growth

Upskill your writers and help them develop their skills and confidence. They can meet the growing needs of your business and feel fulfilled as they progress in their careers. 94% of employees stay longer when companies do this. 

3. You have more control over your culture

It’s people who shape your culture. With control over who you hire, you can ensure that your writers’ personalities and habits are aligned with the culture you want to build.

4. It’s easier to manage projects

You have full visibility over your writers’ availability, making project management easier. You also have control over their workload and you don’t have to worry about a writer saying ‘no’ to a project. 

5. They’ll know your business intimately

Your in-house writers will understand your brand and business more intimately and immediately than freelancers. For example, they’ll know the context of your wider marketing strategy and other initiatives, reducing the time it takes to understand a new project.

In-house: the negatives

1. You have more responsibilities - and overheads

You’re responsible for your writers’ training, pensions, equipment, health insurance, well-being and more. This equals increased overheads, time and energy, which is why hiring in-house can be a big commitment. According to Upwork, true employment costs are 1.2 to 1.4 times higher than an employee's salary. 

2. Your writers could get jaded 

Your writers might be writing about things they have no interest in, which can impact their creativity and motivation. They could also get bored with their environment and feel constrained by their working hours, further stunting creativity.

3. They could move on 

It’s natural for freelance writers to come and go. So you build contingency accordingly and are prepared for things to change. But when an in-house writer moves on: ouch! It can hurt. Your carefully constructed content plan goes kaput. And finding someone to replace them can be tricky - especially in light of the current digital skills shortage.  

4. Ad hoc projects might require skills you don’t have in-house

It’s rare to find all the copywriting skills a business requires in one individual (in nine years, we’ve not found that unicorn!). A great long-form writer, for example, might not be the right person to develop your tone of voice or write your website copy. If you’re aware of this, and prepared to hire the right freelance talent to support your in-house team, this needn’t be a negative. But be sure to consider this as you make the freelance vs in-house decision. 

5. It might be difficult to cover absences

If your in-house writer goes off sick for a week and a deadline is looming, you might struggle to get the project over the line if you can’t find the right cover.

Working with freelance writers

Freelancers deal with lots of risk and uncertainty, but they have the flexibility to work on their own terms and the freedom to pursue their passions. In our experience, this has a positive impact on their creative outputs and working relationships. 

Hiring freelance writers might make sense for your business, but it also might not. Let’s get clear on what we mean by looking at the pros and cons of working with them. 

Freelance: the positives

1. They’re passionate about their work

This is especially true if you’re working with a specialist freelancer writer: they’ve likely chosen that niche because it’s what they're passionate about. They’ll love researching the topic to build their expertise which usually equals content that’s knowledgeable, full of authority and bursting with creativity.

2. You can rapidly find top talent 

Sometimes all you need is one call with a freelancer to get the ball rolling. This might be ideal if you aren’t quite ready to build an in-house team or regularly get projects that need to be turned around quickly.

3. They’re virtual

If you’re in post-lockdown limbo over office space, you don’t need to worry when it comes to hiring freelance writers. Well-versed in online practices, they typically prefer to work where they are, rather than where you are. 

Leveraging time zones can be useful too. Work with virtual freelance writers in different countries and you might find yourself briefing at the end of one day and seeing a draft at the start of the next. 

4. You know what to expect 

When you understand things like average day rates for freelance writing, working with freelancers is straightforward. Pay a premium rate and you’ll get premium content. Go cheap and you’ll get subpar content. It’s as simple as that. 

5. You benefit from peer-to-peer relationships

Freelance writers are entrepreneurs, each running their own small business. Entirely different to managing a team, building these peer-to-peer relationships can be deeply rewarding on a personal and professional level. Anticipate strong connections, insightful conversations and new opportunities. And lightly managing autonomous people frees you up to focus on more strategic aims. 

Freelance: the negatives

1. They don’t know - and might not grow with -  your business

If you hire freelance writers, there’ll be less opportunity to nurture them as your business grows. So, you might not have a team of writers who fit in with your culture or intimately know things about your brand and business. 

2. They can turn down work

When they get to a certain level, freelancers tend to turn down work that doesn’t match their interests or fit into their schedule. This can make them unreliable to a certain extent, especially if you don’t have a team of freelancers to depend on.

3. They can have different communication styles

Freelance writers are rarely unprofessional. But sometimes they might not communicate with your clients or stakeholders in the way that’s right for your business or department. 

Often focused on the task in hand, they might not think strategically, for example, when talking to senior decision-makers. While this doesn’t hurt, it also doesn’t help if raising the reputation of your department is key to internal success. 

4. You need to be on the ball 

From processing multiple invoices to connecting internal experts with your writer to making sure work is delivered on time, there are lots of things you need to juggle and anticipate to get projects over the line. 

Decision time

In the battle between freelance and in-house writers, there are no winners or losers. It’s all about what’s right for your business at this point in time.

We’ll say one thing, though. There is a way to counter the downsides of working with freelancers. 

Centralised think and distributed ink

Incredibble offers you a core team of strategic thinkers who work closely with your department to deliver content through a distributed team of freelance writers.

That means you have all the benefits of a freelance writer with none of the downsides. 

  • A dedicated person handling briefing and feedback 
  • A strategic thinker working with you to define project outcomes
  • Access to a range of talented writers and marketing experts
  • Freelancers committed to your business thanks to the range of work they can access through Incredibble
  • Robust capacity and resource planning
  • Centralised invoicing through one company

All of which can equal better relationships with clients, a stronger brand image, and exceptional quality content that doesn’t suffer from dips in creativity or knowledge. 

If you’re still not convinced, let’s talk. This is our business model, after all, and it’s worked like a dream since 2013!

When your team of writers is locked and loaded, the next step is making sure your content engine is in tip-top shape. Download our ebook to learn more. 

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