Skip to Content

Why Should I Hire an Outside Writer for My Organization’s Website Project?

Phil Tretheway July 25, 2023

A successful website brings many moving parts into alignment. While an intuitive and appealing design will look great and enhance the user experience, your brand can’t be captured by visuals alone. To draw the strongest connection with your audience, you need the words on the page to clearly express the value of your organization. 

Every component of your website expresses your brand’s voice, but you need a skilled writer who can put all your organization has to offer into words. Even if your background is steeped in communications with extensive experience in public relations, you can’t replace the value of an outside marketing perspective. 

I recently had a discussion with one of our messaging experts, Catherine Warmerdam, on the importance of adding a fresh outside voice to a website project. Here is an edited version of that conversation. 

Phil Tretheway: I was working on a website project yesterday and lamenting that the client didn’t opt to bring in a writer. It elevates the whole project when we have someone to collaborate with at that level. Do clients often have trouble seeing the value of bringing in an outside writer?

Catherine Warmerdam: Unfortunately, I do run across this issue occasionally. Often a client needs to be convinced that having a writer at the table from the inception of the project will make both the process and the final product stronger. Sometimes the reason is cost: they think they’ll save money by producing website copy in-house.

But in my experience, even if you do save money, internal staff rarely have the bandwidth to focus their attention on such a time-intensive task. So, it ends up slowing down the project. 

Phil: Yeah, it’s not uncommon for us to get 75% through a project on time and on budget just to get derailed by missing copy. People consistently underestimate how much time and thought needs to go into developing great written content. Then it gets rushed and doesn’t rise to the occasion. We can design a strategic and beautiful project, but words are a big part of the equation.

Catherine: Lots of projects get stalled when the copy isn’t completed in parallel to the design. One way to resolve this is to integrate the copywriting timeline into the overall project timeline; it shouldn’t be an afterthought. Writers typically have a good sense of how long it will take to research, write, and edit their work. They’re in the best position to suggest realistic deadlines. 

In your experience, why do you think writers sometimes get overlooked on these types of projects? 

Phil: Hiring a writer is seen as a luxury. Especially if the client has communications, public relations, or marketing experience, they may think they can do it on their own. But writing for a press release and a website are very different skills in my experience. Don’t you think?

Catherine: I agree completely. Press releases, for the most part, follow a certain format and usually strike the same business-y tone. They don’t need much personality. But website content is a different animal. There’s so much more interplay between the words and the design, and that requires a lot of creative dialogue between the writer and the design team. At its best, it’s a very dynamic process that’s enhanced when a writer has a good sense of design.

So, how would you persuade a client to get on board with hiring a copywriter?

Phil: Sometimes it’s a simple reality check of, “Really? You really want to and have the time to write all of this copy yourself?” As you said, website writing is a demanding, time-intensive task.

We push it pretty hard for our clients to be realistic about the resources it will take to plan, write, and revise the copy—especially if the deadline is tight. More important than all of that logistical stuff is the perspective.

An outside writer doesn’t come with all of the internal history and bias a staff writer does. They have the training and time to approach the project with an outside lens, analyze the situation, study the audience, and write with a fresh, strategic perspective. We often use the analogy of trying to read the label from inside the jar.

I love collaborating with professional writers. How does your writing change when working with a designer versus on your own?

Catherine: I’d say that nearly all of my writing for clients gets some sort of design treatment eventually.

The projects usually fall into one of two camps: a back-and-forth process in which I get to interact with the design team as I’m writing and editing, or a linear process where my work gets handed off to a designer and we never talk. The interactive process nearly always yields a better product.

When collaborating with a designer, I can ask questions about the layout, the imagery, and the level of interactivity. All of these things influence how I write, especially the tone I adopt. It’s a beautiful thing when the words and the design help tell a complete story.

Phil: Agreed, our design work is always much stronger and more effective when developed in tandem with the messaging. When the design and messaging are aligned to solve the same problem in a symbiotic way, we get the best results for our clients.

Why Your Website Redesign Project Needs a Copywriter

Bringing on an expert copywriter to create your website copy isn’t an extravagance. It’s a means to optimize how well you express your organization’s value to a crucial audience. Instead of trying to shoehorn your website copy into the rest of your responsibilities, a copywriter allows you to protect your website project’s schedule — and its budget.

Plus, by incorporating an outside perspective, you gain a fresh set of eyes to see what your organization does and express its value in the most effective way. If your website is falling short of showing all your organization does for members, let’s talk. We can help your organization get where it needs to be.

Back to top