Have You Been Burned by a Freelance White Paper Writer?

Have You Been Burned by a Freelance White Paper Writer?

Part 1 of a 4 part series on white papers – for more information on the subject please visit part 2, part 3, and part 4.

Have your calls and emails gone unanswered at a critical point in a white paper writing project? Was your paper delivered on time? Have you had to conduct a last-minute search for another writer because your current freelance white paper writer was too booked to meet your deadline? While it’s true that freelance writers can be less expensive than top-tier writing agencies, working with a freelancer can incur hidden costs. Here are some considerations when deciding who will produce your next white paper.


Is a freelance white paper writer or an agency more likely to produce a high quality white paper? In truth, either can provide high quality papers.  However, response time and ongoing availability, discussed below, may be deciding factors in your decision.

Response Time

A freelancer is only one person and so has limited bandwidth.  As a result, there may be times when they simply cannot respond in timely fashion to your emails and phone calls. These constraints may even cause them to deliver the paper late, which can impact your time to market and competitive advantage. An agency, on the other hand, can task additional writers as needed and absorb a greater amount of work without becoming overcommitted. In short: agencies typically have more resources to accommodate your project’s schedules and respond quickly to your needs.

Ongoing Availability

Will the freelance white paper writer be available when you need them on an ongoing basis?  Freelancers sometimes take on large contracts that limit their availability, go on vacation, catch colds, decide to scale back their workloads, go back to school, take a maternity/paternity leave, return to the full-time workforce as employees, or retire. By contrast, well-established agencies usually offer always-on availability to provide deliverables. They can balance the workload across multiple writers to provide on-time deliverables consistently over a period of time. If you’re looking for reliability in an ongoing relationship, well-established agencies typically offer an advantage over freelancers.

Freelance White Paper Writers Well-Established Agencies
Price Typically lower than agencies Generally higher than freelance writers
Quality Variable Variable
Response Time May be slower than agencies Usually faster than freelancers
Availability May be inconsistent Usually more consistent
Overall Risk Moderate to high Low to moderate

Conclusion: Freelance White Paper Writer vs. Established Agency

Freelance white paper writers can produce high-quality work and may be fairly inexpensive, but many lack the bandwidth and ongoing availability that well-established agencies can offer, making them a higher risk choice.  If time to market is important to your business, can you afford to take the chance? Avoid being burned: hire an agency to produce your white papers and enjoy the advantages of response time and reliability that they provide.

Have you had a good or bad experience hiring a freelance white paper writer? Have you worked with both freelancers and agencies? If so, what differences did you perceive? We’d love to hear about your experiences and thoughts on this topic.

For the last 30 years, Hoffman Marketing Communications has created white papers, collateral, and more recently video and multimedia, on complex business issues and technologies.