So you’re a business owner or a marketing manager who hired a content marketing writer. How much do you know of what happens behind the scenes of your writer’s business? Probably not a lot.

And that’s OK, of course, it’s not like you have to know. As long as they deliver quality work on time and are a likeable person, there’s no need for you to know the ins and outs of their work. But if you would like to take a quick look at the daily struggles, doubts and strategies happening behind the curtains, here are four things your content marketing writer is not telling you.

We don’t charge an hourly rate, but we do have one

I never charge by the hour or by the word, and none of the content marketing writers I know do that either. There are a few good reasons for that. First of all, it would make our service become a commodity. A 1,000 word article and 100 grams of Parma ham are not the same. It makes much more sense to base the project final fee on the value it holds for the client and the amount of work it requires. And because writing is not a linear process, 1,500 words don’t always take more time than 750, nor provide twice the value. Also, charging by the hour could lead to situations where the “why did it take you so many hours?” question becomes the main issue, rather than quality of writing.

Having said that, freelance writers do have an hourly rate, it’s just that clients can’t see it. The final fee they get is what the writer expects to earn by the hour, divided by the time they think it will take to do the job.

Sometimes we accept to earn less than we would normally do

The final rate a freelance writer charges for a project may in fact be lower than what they would normally charge based on the internal hourly rate. That can be for different reasons. Cashflow issues is one of them, but not the only one. Other – more strategic – ones could be:

  • the project will give us a foot in the door in a niche we want to get into;
  • we really like the topic and/or working with that customer;
  • this particular customer gives us repeat work, saving us time on marketing.

Writing doesn’t come easy

Writers are not individuals blessed with a magic talent cast from above. It’s not like they sit down at the keyboard, start typing away and, hey presto, here’s your article, Mr Client. Truth is, writing can be really hard. No, let me rephrase that: writing is almost always hard. Every content marketing piece has a history of struggles, bottlenecks, last-minute structural changes and I-will-never-get-through-this moments.

The very first draft can be bad

The draft freelance writers submit to clients can be far from perfect. But it’s still much, much better than the very first draft.

If there’s a moment when a writer types away quite carelessly, that’s for the very first draft, which is usually really bad. It’s OK, though. Its purpose is not to be good but to be anything but a blank page. You can edit a lousy paragraph, but you cannot edit the void.

Sometimes, we’re happy to see clients go

Just as clients look for certain qualities in writers, so do writers in clients. And when things just don’t work with a particular client, freelance writers may resort to extreme measures and ‘fire’ them.

Personally, I never fired any client, but I had a few cases where I was happy that I finished what I had to do (and got paid for it), knowing that I wouldn’t have to work for them anymore. That happened with very different clients, but with one thing in common: they were all unreliable. In my own dictionary, unreliable clients are those that:

  • sign the agreement and then disappear before the project starts;
  • become nickel-and-dimey after you worked impossible hours to meet their impossible deadline;
  • need to be chased for a feedback on a 400 word draft, because ‘sorry but I was very busy’;
  • have extremely confused ideas about what they want but don’t trust your judgment, even though they hired you to help them.

Not that I’m whining about anything or anyone. The past is the past, you live and learn, and all that. The point is: content marketing writers and their clients come from different places but look for very similar qualities in their counterparts. And I find that very reassuring.