Businesses are struggling between employee vs freelance content writers —should they be outsourcing their content needs or hiring employees who will create content strictly in-house?
With the combination of new technologies, the gig economy and every business needing content nowadays, writers are in high demand.
While people writing content are abundant, quality writers are in short supply.
When you find a good content writer, would it be better to have them as an employee or is it preferable to hire them as a freelancer?
Here are some things to keep in mind when considering who will create your content.
The Differences in Obligations and Payment
If you choose to have your content writer as an employee, you’ll be required to fulfil all employer obligations—aside from salary, you’ll have to pay the minimum wage at least, provide an itemised payslip, pay national insurance, have a pension scheme, ensure daily rest periods, paid holiday leave, sick pay, maternity leave, everything.
Freelance writers, on the other hand, are often self-employed so you won’t have to pay insurance, healthcare, and other obligations—they will have to do that on their own.
For employees, you’ll probably have to go with the PAYE system, where you will have to deduct your employee’s national insurance and tax before paying their wages.
With freelancers, however, you won’t have to worry about that part. Freelancers have to take care of tax and national insurance on their own. They will issue an invoice for all the work they have done, and you just pay the amount on the invoice. How often they will deliver the invoice depends on the agreement between you two—weekly, biweekly, monthly, or per project.
It’s important to note that writers and bloggers/influencers aren’t the same. Bloggers will often have their own following already, so when you pay for them to write a piece, you will also be paying for exposure to their audience.
References and Testimonials
When hiring writing staff, you’ll need to consider how to judge whether they are good. For employees, you can check for references from previous employers. For freelance writers, you will often have to rely on testimonials from previous and current clients to get an idea of whether they work well.
The legally binding contracts in terms of employee vs freelance content writers are very different. For employees, you will be the one responsible for providing legal contracts, while freelancers will often have their own contracts with clauses that might be different from your preferences.
Freelancers will often have very basic contracts that state the client agrees to pay a certain percentage upfront before the job is started. Usually, these will state the terms and pricing of writing—pay per hour or word, as well as a number of revisions included in the price.
If the employer found freelancers via a platform such as UpWork, they will have to adhere to the platform’s terms and rules.
If your content writers are your employees, you will need to create a contract of employment—a legally binding document between you two that will detail the conditions, rights, responsibilities and duties of both parties, as well as information on notice periods, fixed-term contract end dates, and grievance handling.
Usually, for writers who work in-house for you, the contract will also include non-compete clauses and non-disclosure agreements. Here, you must be reasonable and follow best practices, such as having these clauses valid only for the employment period.
Some employers might try extending them up to a few years after employment termination, which is a bad move.
The Dynamic Differences
Freelance writers are their own boss, but when you have employee content writers, you are their boss. This can be both good and bad.
Freelancers often work from one gig to another, and strive to provide you with the best possible content every time, but are aware that you are two parties on a level playing field.
When the content writers are your employees, you will be higher up in the command chain, meaning you will have greater influence over them. The bad side of this is that you might have to deal with sloppy content occasionally because they feel they can risk it from time to time.
Content Creation Process
The process of how content is created is a big difference when you compare employee vs freelance content writers.
Your employees will have in-house processes they must adhere to when creating content, and will have an easier time with the right tone and voice for all your content. You will have greater control over quality and every aspect of content creation. The downside is that unless you hire exclusive writers in-house, you will be tasking your staff with another thing to do, stretching their available time further.
Freelance writers will have their own processes and research, but that might yield mixed results. Those with access to the latest research will often have extremely high rates, as they finance all paywalls themselves. They might struggle with finding the right tone if it’s not made clear.
Employee vs freelance content writers have vastly different notice periods. For freelancers and contractors, there is legally no minimum notice period required. Neither the freelancers/contractor or the client needs to provide it, but some usually have notice clauses of a few days up to a few weeks in their agreements.
For employee content writers, the notice period depends on how long they were employed (from one to twelve weeks) but fixed-term contracts don’t need them, as they end automatically.
The decision between employee vs freelance content writers is not an easy one. Your employees will often be more motivated and focused on the bigger picture and help you build your company. But it can be a long time to train up and nurture employees to the skill level you need, and they can leave in the meantime.
Of course, we’re biased being a content agency and all – but having worked with freelance writers vs. in-house hires in our own business as well as with clients, we’ve noticed the pros don’t outweigh the cons of hiring in-house.
The caveat? It can be a pain finding the right freelancer for your business (if you’re struggling, drop us an email and we can see if we can help you out with content or point you in the direction of some excellent freelancers/business owners)
To make the decision easier for you, here are the most important pros and cons of each:
|Freelance Content Writers|
|Often cheaper||They can refuse assignments|
|You don’t have to pay healthcare/benefits||No say in when they are available|
|Access to a wider pool of writing talent||They have rate flexibility|
|Subject matter experts|
|Faster and efficient content production|
|Employee Content Writers|
|You are the exclusive client||You pay tax, healthcare, and national insurance|
|A higher level of trust||More time/resources spent|
|Better control over output and processes||Often highest expertise staff doesn’t have time to write|
|Company-centric approach instead of customer-centric|
|Not scalable/fixed capacity|