The Importance of Web Content Strategy
Some web design and web development agencies have it all. They provide their clients with a complete site solution from beginning to end, from site planning and information architecture to web design, web hosting, and SEO. It’s tough for a smaller web design company or the solo freelancer to compete.
Or is it?
It may be easier than you think to broaden your competitiveness by adding web content writing services to your web design company.
By adding content writing services, you will be better able to adapt to the needs of potential clients. Some clients prefer to deal with one-stop shops. They don’t want to track down specialists for each component of their website project. If you can offer both site-building and content-writing expertise, you too can appeal to the one-stop shoppers.
Benefits of Providing Web Content Writing Services
In addition to landing more clients, adding professional content-writing services brings many other benefits. Here are a few of them.
Fewer iterations and revisions: If you have authority over all aspects of a site build — design, development and content — your work will be more efficient. There will be less need to go back and make changes because you can synchronize design and content from the outset.
Better content: Clients receive error-free, professional content. They can have web content that complements and works well with the web design.
Better branding: Clients benefit from web content that positions their brand well, along with a style and voice that engages their users.
Fewer headaches and project delays: By incorporating content writing into your services, you eliminate the headache that stems from clients delivering web copy that’s weak or late (who needs another delay?).
Optimized content: Quality content is optimized for search engines. Google and other search engines will rank your clients’ sites higher and more people will visit if the content produced keeps good SEO practices in mind.
Better conversion rates: Professional web content writers can increase conversion rates by optimizing calls to action and by writing compelling web content, making more money for clients to invest back into website development. You might get more work (and referrals) as a result.
Assistance with other website project components: Some content writers — especially those that focus on web content — can help with sitemaps, information architecture, wireframes, unique value propositions, calls to action, taglines and more.
Stronger client relationships: Content-writing services often extend beyond website launch. If you can maintain client relationships by updating or adding new content on their site, they are more likely to call you when their site needs a redesign.
Adding Content-writing Services to Your Web Design Company
So how do you incorporate content-writing into your web design company? You have a few options, and you don’t have to pick just one.
- Develop referral agreements
- Hire freelance web content writers
- Subcontract a professional web content-writing company
- Employ in-house web content writers
Develop Referral Agreements
In a referral arrangement, you refer clients to your preferred content-writing company. Your preferred content-writing company, in turn, refers clients to you. Obviously, you need to vet the content-writing company thoroughly and make sure they are capable and reliable.
The greatest advantage of referrals is that they create new revenue streams. With just a phone call or email, you can set clients up with your recommended company and receive a referral fee. You don’t have to manage the content-writing process, freeing you to focus on website design.
This approach also sidesteps possible cash flow issues. You don’t need to pay contractors out of your own pocket while waiting for the client to pay.
Similarly, you could work out a referral arrangement with a web content writer or web content-writing company, without paying fees. You will still help each other by generating more business.
Hire Freelance Web Content Writers
The biggest advantage of this approach is its low cost. You pay the writers directly, with no infrastructure to support. You pay only when you require the writer’s services, so you have a great deal of flexibility in how you use them.
If you find a good freelance writer, then you have the benefit of possibly grooming him or her to work for you in-house should you have enough work to justify it.
But there’s a downside to hiring a freelancer. Your content-writing services will be limited by the ability and availability of your freelance content writer. Not all freelancers are versatile, or experts in usability, SEO, or conversion tactics.
You also run the risk of the freelancer not delivering. If the freelancer fails to deliver on time or delivers poor quality web content, then you are responsible and your professional reputation will be at stake. You can’t just go back to the client and say, "my writer got sick," or "my writer’s computer crashed" or "my writer disappeared." The client will not distinguish between your company’s performance and the performance of your freelance web content writer. They’ll hold you accountable.
Subcontract Out to a Professional Web Content-writing Company
In a subcontracting arrangement, clients hire you to provide content-writing services, and you subcontract the work to a web content-writing company. (Full disclosure: as a web copywriter with a professional content-writing company, I have some bias here.)
Professional web content-writing agencies typically have a stable of writers working for them in-house, under contract, or both. These companies can often accommodate short deadlines because they can free up a writer to meet the deadline or divide the work among writers.
Having a bevy of writers and communications specialists also allows professional content-writing companies to offer a wider scope of related services, i.e. keyword analyses or meta data development, video script writing, etc., and match writers to clients. If a writer has a particular area of industry expertise or subject knowledge, the content-writing company can assign him or her to clients who will benefit from this expertise.
Many professional content-writing companies also have the advantage of additional copy review. Copy is often routed through other writers and editors for feedback or to catch errors. For instance, at my company, Webcopyplus, a senior copywriter reviews all copy before it’s released to clients.
There are some disadvantages to hiring a professional web content-writing company. Prices may be higher as there is more infrastructure to support. Also, it may be difficult to get adequate attention if your project is small and the web content-writing company has bigger projects on the go.
Employ In-house Web Content Writers
Your most integrated solution is to employ a part-time or full-time content strategist. As an employer, you have direct control over your employee’s project priorities and performance. As a result, you may have quick turnaround times as your writer is dedicated solely to your projects.
By having the web content writer in your staff, you also get to know the writer’s strengths and you will be less hesitant to invest in his or her professional development.
The risk is, at some point, you may not have enough content-writing work to keep your writer busy and cover his or her salary. But you don’t need to hire a full-time staff writer, and in some cases, you can make flexible arrangements.
There are also added training and costs, not to mention administrative demands. You will have to manage payroll deductions, vacation pay, medical plans, insurance and performance appraisals.
Finally, it can be very challenging to find talented, reliable content writers. At my company, we reviewed more than 400 portfolios before we filled our last position.
Don’t limit your ability to win projects by taking a one-size-fits-all approach. Consider the client’s preferences: if you want to appeal to one-stop shoppers, consider adding content-writing to your web services arsenal.
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About the Author
This was published on May 15, 2011