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Hiring a consultant

Faye Farmer
January 10, 2020

Investing in a coach, writer, editor, or graphic designer for your proposals can be the wisest thing you've ever done. To make the most of the engagement and maximize the investment, you'll want to carefully consider the following as you proceed:

What do you want them to help with? The better you are able to articulate your needs, the better off you are and the sooner negotiation can lead to a signed contract. Start with providing context - are you a native English speaker, are you a subject matter expert, have you written proposals before. Then, provide the ask and be specific - do you need someone to brainstorm strategy with, do you need someone to edit an almost final product, do you want two or three edits before you submit, do you want them simply to review and comment, or do you want someone to design something from scratch. Finally, ask them what they think are their strengths and weaknesses (e.g., are they good at synthesizing material, technical writing, editing, or proofing) and ask them how they prefer to work (e.g., lots of communication, morning/night person, lots of discussion before committing to paper).

How much are you willing to pay? As with all negotiations, recognize your upper limit constraints, but don't start there. Ask for a quote by hour, page, word, or total project. In general, editing will cost between $50 and $100 per hour. On average, you can edit 1 page per hour. In general, writing will cost $100 - $150 per hour. On average, you can write 2 pages per day. Remember, that as with most other purchases, you will pay more for a higher quality product. You should also be cognizant of your return on investment. For example, you will not want to spend more than 10% of your award amount in a very competitive application process.

How much time do you have? Important factors to consider when determining the timeline include, but are not limited to, the time to sponsor submission, internal review processes, your availability, and any external constraints (e.g., other team members, other institutional requirements). You should also factor in time to interview and hire the appropriate individual with the requisite skills. Consult frequently with your ASU purchasing representative to ensure that you have the correct forms and background documents so that you're compliant with the university's requirements.

There are several reasons you would want to explore hiring someone to assist you to develop your next proposal. KED's Research Development office is available to help you determine what those reasons are. Email us at to set up a time to talk.