Blog | Jun 8, 2011 | 3 Comments

[offshoring for copywriting?]

Offshoring – the practice of outsourcing business processes to another country – has been an important topic in American business (and politics) for decades now. I always thought that my profession, copywriting, was immune from it. But I was wrong.

I first heard about this trend on a freelancing website.

I love Freelance Folder. If you’re a freelancer, or are just curious about how they think and work, please check out this site. Here is a link to the post, but it was comments such as these that caught my eye:

Those in developing countries may find a gold mine for, let’s say a $5 an hour ( or less ) job writing a 500 word article for a client. I guess, those who are benefiting in these tough times are those in the developing world and they say China will be the next America?

We usually work for much less than freelancers from other parts of the world. We realize that this is a though competition for this people, because of the difference between the costs of living in each country … The other big issue is that anyone can enter into this markets, so, a proffesional designer or developer, who invested a lot of money and time going to college, can be taken out by some teenager from a country like mine, and that’s not fair … for companies and clients from the first world, the freelancing market is a great place to outsource a lot of work for very little money, and we will take them because we need that money, so this is a truly complicated topic. As we can see in other comments in this thread, many freelancers had to switch jobs or to take extra work loads to make a living. The same happens to us, because we have to compete against people from India for example, which are excellent and much more cheap than us, so we are also in disadvantage. [This comment was from an Argentinian web designer, not a writer, but the perspective is still valuable.]

A list of reasons I should not have been surprised.

The more I researched this trend, the more I learned why it could make sense.

That last point is very important. For 25 years, I’ve written B2B communications that were distributed overseas in English or translated into other languages, or both. I actually had to be careful not to be too colloquial. So I can see some benefit to employing writers who understand other cultural norms.

But there are pitfalls.

SEO copywriting is one area in which offshoring seems attractive. But one UK blogger found this amusing example of a firm you would NOT want to hire:

XXX (name removed) Service is immensely emerging company in the Indian IT market. We deliver the best of IT solutions in the field of SEO and SEM. Apart from the admirable SEO and SEM services offered by XXX Services, the company provides an exquisite service of Web Content Writing. The creative and unique writing done by the content writers at XXX Service, puts the company in the priority list of the clients to get content writing services for there business. The SEO services offered here are quite efficient and have always been up to the requirements of the client. The productive SEO, SEM services gives a global identification to the company.

Your turn: what do you think of this trend?

Photo: ONT Design on flickr. This work is licensed through Creative Commons.
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Author: Claire Wagner

I'm a seasoned freelance writer/editor and an enthusiastic community manager. I'm passionate about developing and sharing good content.

3 Comments

Claire – interesting post – I’ve run into this a bit. I’ve worked for one company that apparently outsources copywriting for its clients – my job was to revise/rewrite an outsourced paper so that it sounded right. Even though it was grammatically correct and the content was accurate, it didn’t flow well, and the ultimate client didn’t like it. The subtleties of B2B writing in particular can be difficult do well in a second language. I suspect it would have been faster to hire me in the first place, and the company would have been saved from having their client reject the first draft of the paper.

[Reply]

Anne Janzer

6/2/2011

While I’m not surprised by this trend, I don’t think it will carry with it the detrimental impact that outsourcing of other business services has had. Many in other countries do have a strong command on our language, which I think has fueled this trend along with the cheaper labor costs. However, my experience has been that my clients want to keep close contact with me throughout the duration of larger projects. This is quite possible to achieve overseas with Skype and all of that, but it’s just not the same. Perhaps the trend will continue for short, one-up copywriting jobs, but for large projects, I think most people in need of writing services will still choose stateside providers.

Samantha

[Reply]

Claire Wagner Reply:

Samantha, I appreciate your analysis and have to agree with you. I have worked as a copywriter with overseas operations at HP but I had local contact managing the project, and, of course, it was an American company. Thanks so much for commenting.

[Reply]

Samantha Gluck

6/8/2011

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