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Sometimes you get what you pay for

For my fellow creatives, this is an anecdote. For me, it was a lesson. For anyone thinking of hiring creatives, it should be a warning.

This is a true story.

It happened to me when I first started freelancing. The details are inconsequential, but the results show why hiring creatives on the basis of cost can be a false economy.

A company was looking for a copywriter

It all began when I was approached by a start-up company looking for a copywriter to write their first website.

I met with the clients. We seemed to get on well and had very similar ideas about the style and tone of the copy, but they needed a little more help to decide what content they should have.

They were fixating on two things: the timescale and the price. The website had to be ready in three months and they were insisting on a quotation before the project scope had been finalised.

Had I been more experienced, I would have realised their obsessive questioning about the price was a red flag. But I was naive and happy to help. I spent a weekend researching their business and put together a comprehensive and well-reasoned proposal. I submitted this, along with a rough quotation, the following week.

I didn’t get the job

I never got the chance to talk them through my proposal. Another copywriter had provided a “much cheaper” quote and the clients had accepted it immediately. 

Three months later, I decided to look up the website as I was curious to see the finished result. I typed in the URL, but there was no website, just a holding page.

Six months passed by and still no website. 

Eight months, nine months, ten months and still nothing. 

I wondered what could have happened. Why was a straightforward website taking such a long time?

Maybe the clients had been indecisive. Perhaps one of the creative team had let them down. Maybe there were technical issues. Or the clients hadn’t paid.

Finally, a website appeared

Then, more than 12 months after I submitted my quote, a website finally appeared — and it was a catastrophe.

Long lines copy spanned the entire screen.  There were spelling mistakes — lots of them. At numerous points the copy ran underneath photographs and disappeared from view completely.

The organic SEO had not been applied properly. Headings and page titles were missing.

‘Customers’, including Fred Bloggs and John Doe, had given strangely identical testimonials.

The stock photographs used were poor-quality, watermarked composite images, which had not been properly downloaded or, indeed, paid for. 

The site was littered with paragraphs of Lorem ipsum placeholder text, where it was still waiting to be finished.

The site looked like a bad mock-up — a rough design put together for the client to comment on. It should never have been displayed in full public view like that. Yet there it was, and there it stayed — in that state, for three months.

How could this have happened?

Had the clients approved this? Did they even know the site had been uploaded? Surely the creatives who had designed and written the site must have realised it was a mess.

Who knows what had gone wrong

Of course, I don’t know what actually happened. I’m just speculating.

All I know is that a reputable copywriter would never have submitted copy in that state. 

I would have edited and corrected it. I would have been liaising with the web designer to highlight all the problems I could see. And I would have done my best to insist that the site wasn’t made public until the amendments had been made.

Don’t let the same thing happen to you

The creatives you hire will be representing you. Their work will communicate your brand to your potential customers. And they should do so with the same passion and professionalism you do — if not more.

Here are some things to think about.

💰 Price is important, but it shouldn’t be your only consideration 

You also need to make sure you find someone you feel comfortable with, someone who shares your vision, someone conscientious and reliable with the skills to complete your project successfully.

Before you approach anyone, take time to peruse their website, view their portfolio of work, look at their credentials and read their testimonials.

📅 Set a schedule with dates for the completion of each stage of the project

This is particularly important if you are working with several individuals. Coordinating the project successfully means that everyone knows where they stand and when they will be required to start work on their part. It also gives you the best chance of having your project completed in a reasonable time.

🔎 Keep a check on the work that’s being done 

Ask for regular updates to make sure the project is flowing smoothly and everyone is following the schedule.

Make sure you’re happy with the progress and the quality of the work that’s being done.

If you’re commissioning a website, most web designers upload the site to private area for you to view it. The private area is only accessible via a password that your designer will give to you. If you can see your site online without entering a password, it’s likely that other people can see it too.

Looking for a reliable copywriter?

I’m Jenny Lucas a freelance creative copywriter and SEO content writer based in Leicester, UK.

I’m conscientious, reliable and used to working with remote teams on multi-disciplined creative projects.

To find out more about how I can help you, please visit my website.

Image by M. Roth from Pixabay