Should you hire a writer for your website? (video)

Viewing time: 3 mins. 45 seconds

The Write Question is a weekly video podcast about writing that I started in 2017 and that ran, more or less weekly, until April 2022. This is a republication of issue #27, describing how to hire a writer for your website. The post first ran on Aug. 11/17.


Welcome to The Write Question, I’m Daphne Gray-Grant. Building a website can be a big task, but are there ways to make it easier?

Today I’m answering a question from Rob Wells, from Bethesda, Maryland, who left me a message on my phone. Here’s what Rob asked.

[recording] This is Rob I’m calling because I’m hoping you can help me answer a question. I need to figure out who can help me to write a website. I’m a patent attorney so I’m comfortable writing patents but not comfortable writing a website. And I’m wondering if I should spend the time to do it myself or if I should hire somebody else to do it. And what I should be paying them and where I should look to find somebody? Hopefully, you can answer my question. Thanks.

Thanks for the question, Rob.

You’ve raised three interesting issues here, so let’s look at them individually.

First: Should you hire a writer to do this work for you.

I’m going to give you an enthusiastic ‘yes!’ Websites are an important marketing tool that will help sell your services. And the work of doing this kind of writing is highly specialized. You wouldn’t hire an electrician to fix your sink nor, I’m guessing, would you want a divorce attorney to handle a patent. So don’t hire any old writer. Look for someone who specializes in website writing and has done lots of it.

Next, how much will the job cost?

Writing connected with sales — which is what this is — is going to cost you more than other kinds of writing. Expect to pay a minimum of $75 per hour — and as much as $200 — depending on the experience of the person you hire, and the city they live in. If the person wants to charge you less than $75 an hour, they don’t have enough experience.

Be aware that not every writer will charge based on an hourly rate. Some will prefer to give you a project quote. Don’t be alarmed by this, it’s perfectly okay. But so you can compare quotes, try to figure out how long the writing job is going to take them, and then calculate the hourly rate yourself. I would allow two hours for every 1000 words, and another two hours for the administration of the job overall.

So, how should you hire a writer for your website?

Understand that the best suggestions are going to come from a friend or colleague who has used such services themselves. Survey everyone you know to see who’s hired a website writer recently. Remember, that one of the luxuries of the Internet is that this writer does not need to live in your own city. As a result, you’ll be able to cast a wider net and, with luck, find an even better person.

You didn’t raise a fourth point, but I’m going to volunteer it anyway. Be sure to check references. There is nothing more miserable than having an unreliable, hard-to-get-along-with contractor. To avoid this problem, ask for and check at least three references. Find out if the writer meets deadlines, does good work, and is friendly and cheerful. If they strike out on any of those criteria, hire someone else. I’m attaching a link, below, to a Harvard Business Review piece on checking references.

Finally, let me end with a quote from house contractor and TV personality Mike Holmes: “Go see as many jobs completed by the contractor as possible, including projects done years ago. These tell you the performance and durability of their work.”

Thanks for your question, Rob. Good luck with figuring out how to hire a writer for your website.


The  right way to check someone’s references (Harvard Business Review) 

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