April brings new beginnings. It brings the new financial year which in turn brings new budgets to spend, particularly in the public sector. With the prospect of new campaigns on the horizon, here are some points to consider if you’re thinking about commissioning a writer

  • Budget. Do you have money for this project? Do you need to wait for the budget to settle down, for a clear picture of exactly who bid for what and got it, and whether budget has been freed up elsewhere and can be reallocated? Be realistic. You may not have the green light for another month.
  • What needs to happen before a writer can start? Do you need to commission research which will help identify the appropriate outputs for your target audience? Is it a website? Is it a booklet? Is it a DVD? At this stage you might not know. Do your planning and hold off on contacting a writer until you know what you want and you have some material for them to work with.
  • Are you the right person?  If you are not the budget holder and you need their go ahead then wait. The writer may have to come back and meet with the budget holder. Why have two meetings when one would do? This is no reflection on the authority of the person commissioning the writer. It’s common sense. Which sometimes get lost in the enthusiasm to start a project.
  • Is there anything for the writer to do? A time lag between being hired and doing the work often means the scope of the project can change. I may have put in a proposal based on interviewing a number of people. My time and fees reflect this. Between being appointed and starting, the project has morphed into a rewrite of a technical report for the general public. Which I can do. But I may need to be re-briefed and would prefer to provide a revised estimate. It wastes your time and mine. Just let your writer know that a piece of work is coming up and you’d like them to pitch for it nearer the time.