Frequently Answered Questions
It depends. Each project is unique. Usually, after a brief phone conversation to determine the specific requirements, we provide a detailed proposal with a flat fee. Most of our clients prefer this since it tells them up-front how much their project will cost with no surprises.
For long or open-ended projects we can negotiate an hourly rate, if that’s what you prefer. However, keep in mind that an hourly rate doesn’t tell you anything. Consider …
Suppose you need a white paper to explain a new service offering and we tell you that we charge $200 per hour. How much will your white paper cost? We can’t tell because we don’t know what’s involved and how long it’s going to take. Would you feel better if we told you we charge $20 per hour? Now how much will your white paper cost? Same answer. A rate per hour doesn’t really tell you anything and it doesn’t change the total cost of the project.
That said, let’s be clear. We are not cheap. If you’re just looking for the lowest price and you don’t care about the quality of the work, we suggest trying some of the freelance job boards. If you want professional communication at a fair price, contact us. We’d be pleased to offer you a proposal. There’s no obligation.
Time – By hiring us to write for you, you’re free to focus on your core business. There are many necessary functions in a well run, growing business, but you don’t have time to do them all yourself. So you hire secretaries, janitorial staff, accountants … and writers to help carry the load.
A fresh perspective – You’re very familiar with your business, your customers, and your products and services, so familiar that you may overlook some aspect of your business your customers need to know. Coming from outside, LightningStrike brings a new outlook and fresh ideas to a project that may otherwise have grown stale.
Load – Your own people may be too busy to take on additional work. By hiring LightningStrike for specific projects you avoid having to increase your full time staff.
Services beyond writing – With our range of experience and relationships with other professionals – graphic artists, designers, printers, translators – we provide a full range of services beyond writing, services that would take you precious time and effort to manage on your own.
Already have in-house staff handling your writing? We don’t want to put anyone out of a job. Simply keep us in mind for those times when your people are overloaded and they need some extra help, or when you’d like another set of eyes on a project.
Easy: We’re quick studies.
We didn’t know anything about home inspection before we wrote for Attic to Cellar. We didn’t know anything about solvent recycling before we wrote for CLEAN. We didn’t know anything about boilers and burners before we wrote for Sterling Combustion. We didn’t know anything about Oracle databases before we wrote for John Deere.
The fact is, we don’t have to know everything about a subject before we write about it. We don’t even have to know everything you know. We simply have to know what the audience needs to know, and we find that out by doing research. Often, that means simply reviewing the reference material you supply and checking with you and your staff when we need clarification. Or it may require seeking out additional information on the Internet, at the library, or through interviews with industry experts.
Absolutely! We’ve worked with clients and contacts across the U.S., Canada, and the U.K. We conduct almost all our business by email and phone. Any physical documents we need to exchange we can ship by courier. We hold any necessary interviews with you and your staff by phone or Internet conference at a mutually agreeable time. Technology has made telecommuting a viable alternative and in many cases a preferred means of conducting business, saving time and money for everyone involved.
We’ll be happy to sign a non-disclosure agreement at your request. If you wish, any materials we receive from you will either be returned or destroyed. To secure email communications, we use OpenPGP encryption. Download our public key:
firstname.lastname@example.org – Fingerprint: AF6B DC8D 5E40 897D 0358 C76D E9EE 3C52 5F7A 58AC
First, we must understand that revisions are not the same as changes in direction or scope.
Using our brochure example, suppose that when we started out you decided you wanted a very formal document, just the facts, to the point, with little or no humor. Then, after we’ve delivered the first draft, you decide you want a more light, humorous, friendly style. That’s completely different. The direction of the project has changed.
Or suppose you initially decided you wanted a 4-page brochure highlighting recent renovations or staff changes and how they’ll benefit your customers. Then you decide you’d like to include a review of your new product line and an article about some new technology your plant is using. The original 4-page brochure is now six or eight pages. That’s a scope change.
Our quoted fee includes up to two in-direction / in-scope revisions requested within 30 days from the time we deliver the initial draft. As explained, changes in direction or scope will require a new quote from us, and a new purchase order from you.
Of course! We work with marketing/communications agencies, web site designers, graphic artists and designers, and even other writing firms as a subcontractor on a project-by-project basis. During the project we’ll act as your representatives in all interactions with the client, and bill you for our services.
Rest assured that we won’t try to steal your clients. We agree not to solicit your client for a period of at least one year after our combined project concludes.
Yes, we do! We can simply edit your work, correcting spelling, punctuation, and grammar, and making minor stylistic suggestions. Or we can provide a complete rewrite, preserving your style and intent as far as possible.
If the project is interrupted before we deliver the first draft, we will only bill you for the portion of work completed up to that point. Otherwise, payment is due in full within 30 days from the delivery of the first draft.
Understand that once we lose momentum on a project, we can’t always just pick up where we left off. So if you later reactivate a project, depending on the length of time that has passed, we may need to start from the beginning, with a fresh quote.
Any work we do for you, in any format, is classified as a work for hire. That means that you, as the client who commissioned the work, own the copyright. We will not reuse your project for other clients.
Keep in mind that ideas, facts, and phrases are not covered under copyright law. So, if we write an article about widgets for you, we’re free to write about widgets for anyone else. We can also use the same publicly-accessible facts. What we wouldn’t use is any proprietary information you’ve provided. That remains confidential.
The same principles apply to general design elements. We wouldn’t use photographs you supplied for other clients, but we could use the same stock photographs.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the technique of tuning a web site’s design and content so the site ranks higher in search results on Google, Yahoo, MSN, and the like.
On the design side, this means making effective use of ALT and META tags, robots.txt and sitemap files, and so forth. LightningStrike works with web designers and developers skilled in these techniques.
As for content, when writing for the web we make judicious use of keywords selected to match the web site’s theme and target audience. Further, since many search engines give preference to sites with quality inbound links, LightningStrike also provides ghost writing services, working with you to produce and distribute relevant articles with links back to your site.
Keep in mind that search engine optimization is no guarantee that your web site will achieve a high pagerank. Search engines like Google frequently change their algorithms, and sites that at one time appeared high in results may suddenly drop in relevance through no fault of the site’s owners. Beware of anyone who promises you the first page on Google. That’s a guarantee even Google won’t make.
SEO should be only a part of your overall marketing efforts. Be sure to include your web address in all of your sales and marketing material. The best way to ensure a web site will attract and retain visitors is by publishing quality content.
Contact us. Send us an email message and tell us a bit about your project. We’ll arrange a mutually convenient time for a short phone call.