Offshoring your copywriting—good or bad?

Even though the original post is from 2008, Freelancing Doesn’t Mean Free by Rebecca Stigall was published on Creative Freelancing just recently. The site doesn’t allow comments, so I am commenting here.

I understand the need for freelancers to protect their livelihood. Yet, I found several claims in the above article that require a closer look.

The writer complains that the low copywriting fees you can get by offshoring are not enough to sustain an American copywriter. That’s true, of course. From the client’s viewpoint, however, the question is: If I can get the same quality at a lower price, why should I want to pay more just to help keep up someone’s lifestyle? Isn’t this just the reason why companies are outsourcing production, for example?

The article attempts to justify non-offshoring by saying “even if a buyer’s financial needs are met through outsourcing, their project needs rarely are”. It would be interesting to know what kind of research is behind “rarely”. If companies as a rule did not get the benefits they expect from offshoring, it would be really strange that offshoring is as popular as it is today.

Even stranger is the claim that “ya [sic] just can’t write effectively to an American audience if your first language isn’t English”.

It’s not a question of English being your first, second or umpteenth language. It’s a question of having a good command of the language and a good understanding of your business environment and needs.

True, if you’re writing B2C copy, colloquial expressions and a grassroots-level knowledge of American culture and sub-cultures may be important. In contrast, if you’re writing about industrial gears, automation systems, banking solutions, wastewater treatment or power supply systems, cultural differences are less important.

If the copy achieves the Most Wanted Response determined for the marketing piece and is grammatically correct, why would it be important whether it is “made in America” or elsewhere? Besides, a professional from the outside may have a fresher look and new ideas.

If you’re a business looking to lower the cost of producing your marketing materials, you might want to take a look at a couple of blog posts touching on this topic: How to find the ideal freelance business-to-business copywriter and How to handle your advertising in-house without the downside.

Business is global. So are business services. Widen your perspective—you may get surprising benefits.



  1. Urs E. Gattiker – @ComMetrics - 2012-03-29 @ 09:36

    Dear Kimmo

    You make some important points above, thanks for reminding me. My believe is that outsourcing rarely if ever saves money. Ideally I get better quality for the same price as I would if we were to do this in-house.

    A company may outsource because a particular skill-set (e.g., writing) is not available in-house. This could be for two reasons:
    a – it is not part of the firm’s core competencies, and/or
    b – there are not enough jobs in that area to allow the company to hire somebody full-time (or part-time)

    However, I most certainly agree with you that if I outsource I want the job to be done at least as well as we could do it internally. Your point is correct that this depends on the writer’s ability to communicate well with the target audience.

    By the way, with globalization it does not help to use American slang or Valley Talk either. And finally, I get asked to accept a guest post by a freelancer for our blog on at least once a week. Most freelancers offer me these posts for for free. Nevertheless, when I then read some of their past writings, I often do not see how this will add value for our readers. Hence, finding a skilled freelancer that can write for your target audience is not easy. Therefore, no surprise that this costs (called market demand vs supply).

    Kimmo, thanks for sharing.

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