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 his or her business? Probably not a lot.

And that’s OK, of course, it’s not like you have to know. As long as their work is on par with what you expect, they respect deadlines, and are nice to deal with, there’s no need to know the ins and outs of their work.

But if you could take a quick look at what’s happening behind the curtains, there are four things your content marketing writer is probably not telling you.


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

I never charge by the hour and very rarely by the word, and most of the content marketing writers I know do the same.

There are a few good reasons for that. First of all, it would make our service become a commodity. A 1,000-word article can require two or twenty hours, depending on the case. Second, it’s not about quantity, but the value that the piece has for the client. Third, writing is not a linear process: 1,500 words don’t always ttwice as many hours as 750, nor they 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 we quote is what the writer expects to earn by the hour, divided by the estimated time to complete it.


Sometimes we accept to earn less than we would normally do

The formula above is the rule. Then, there are the exceptions. Sometimes we may charge less than what we would normally charge based on the internal hourly rate. That can be for different reasons. Cashflow issues (fancy phrase for “need to work to pay the bills”) is one of them, but not the only one. Other – more strategic – reasons could be:

  • the project will give us a foot in the door in a new niche;
  • we really like the topic and/or working with that customer;
  • that 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 is really bad

As they say, writing is 90% editing. The only moment when a writer types away carelessly, is with 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 out, freelance writers may resort to extreme measures and ‘fire’ them.

Personally, I never had to do that, 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 that client anymore. That happened with very different clients, but with one thing in common: they were all unreliable. In my own vocabulary, unreliable clients do one or more of the following:

  • 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 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.

The point is: content marketing writers and their clients come from different places but look for similar qualities in their counterparts. I don’t know you, but I find that very reassuring.