By Jeff Edis, Senior Copywriter and founder at Words Words Words UK

We all know a new hire is going to cost more than the headline salary.

But the temptation to take on a talented copywriter regardless is very real. They who can turn disenchanted clients into ambassadors for the agency. Beat heavy duty agencies in an odds defying pitch. And carry off a haul of creative award. Results in that all too human failing. The dangerous condition of self-deception. So, while we’re perfectly happy to concede there’ll be such things as NI, pension contributions and the cost of recruiting, we turn a blind eye to an inconvenient and costly truth.

The days of basic salaries are long gone. Attracting creative talent now means the true cost of your next senior copywriter could be 70% more than you imagined. Seems unlikely? Well, let’s break down those extra costs. First, we have the identifiable extras. We’ll deal with the more insidious, hidden costs a little later. We have the percentage of over-heads, which can add as much as a further 20%. They include the workspace, utilities, office equipment and other expenses. Then there are the benefits to stop staff jumping ship for a more attractive offer. Piling on another round of expensive recruitment costs.

The list of today’s benefits includes health insurance, retirement plans, gym membership, paid time off, team building activities etc. Which can contribute a further 20%. Then there are training courses to keep people up to speed with such things as AI accelerating in terms of complexity and possibilities daily, which could up your costs by another 10%. So, now we’re comfortably up to 50% of extra costs. But then there are those additional costs that we may not calculate, but that definitely exist. And they can cause terminal damage to your cost structure. It’s what has become something of a dirty word in the UK economy – namely, productivity.

The inescapable truth is that even the most diligent are distracted. Rather than devoting every working hour to getting on with the job. And this isn’t just a general, not too important consideration in the cost equation. According to research, when asked what people do at work, other than the job they’re paid for, the following was revealed. A total of 47% checked social media, 45% read news websites and 38% discussed out-of-work activities. Then there’s a depressing 19% who admitted to searching for new jobs. So, let’s be conservative and add a further 20% of lost productivity and we are at our extra 70%. If we return to our senior copywriter, this amounts to a staggering annual cost of £68,000, rather than their actual salary of something around £40,000pa.

This explains why hidden employment costs can put your agency at serious risk. Talking of things ‘hidden’, it’s only fair to mention the hidden agenda that we all labour under when posting a blog. Of course, we want to share our knowledge and benefit others, but we also want our post to have a relevance to what we do. After all, whether we be butcher, baker or candlestick maker, it’s not inconceivable that our product or services could have value for our contacts and followers. So, let’s not be squeamish. There’s nothing wrong in encouraging our contacts and followers to work with us. So unabashed, here’s a short summary of why outsourcing copywriting could have benefits over the cost of an in-house copywriter.

The benefits of outsourcing copy and content writing:

  • You may need expert, niche expertise that you don’t have in-house.
  • Outsourcing copywriting is more cost-effective for short-term project-work
  • At peak times, a freelancer can produce extra content and meet deadlines
  • When budgets are tight outsourcing reduces costs without reducing quality
  • You can access specialities such as email marketing campaigns and white papers
  • Freelance copywriters can bring fresh and new ideas into the agency

Historically, the business model of employing people was adopted because it was economically more attractive for the employer, as well as the advantages of having people on site at their beck and call. But things like technology, pandemics, government taxes and employee obligations have changed the cost equation. Today it’s accepted that in-house combined with remote working and outsourcing is the right mix to achieve the most effective and successful business outcomes.