How Much Should You Pay Freelance Content Writers?
Editor’s note: Gigster is always looking for top writers. See the bottom of this post for more info.
Every company has to know and tell it’s own story.
In today’s user-driven world it doesn’t matter what business you’re in, you need to establish your brand. This is true whether you’re a tech-savvy Silicon Valley startup or a shoe store in Milwaukee.
Conversations are moving from online to the real world at breakneck speeds and competition is always on the rise. Telling your story is a way to build trust with your audience and win their business. That means that content creation is integral to the success of most businesses.
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This is true of all industries, but for B2B marketers it’s especially relevant. A study by Content Marketing Institute found that, on average, B2B marketers allocate 28 per cent of their total marketing budget to content marketing.
The most effective companies allocate 42 per cent of their entire marketing budget. Those same companies remain heavily focused on creating engaging content, with 72 per cent saying it’s important.
The costs associated with content creation can be daunting. A qualified content manager can cost the same amount as a salaried employee. Another route companies can take is to hire freelancers.
So finding freelance writers to create your written content remains both necessary and difficult. But remarkably, reliable data is hard to come by. Having an idea of what to pay a freelance writer is important for businesses of every size. We’ll take a look at the numbers a little further down this article.
Given the importance of the topic, the lack of available data is stunning. 88 per cent of companies in the Content Marketing Institute study say they use content marketing. But hard numbers on pricing remain frustratingly elusive.
A study done by Hubspot found there are very visible correlations between the number of posts you have per month and how much traffic they generate.
How Much Written Content Should You Create?
The study found that if you’re blogging once per week any lift in traffic is minimal. Once you start posting up to three times a week the curve begins to bend upward. Four-to-five posts a week is the sweet spot, where you generate the most traffic without exhausting your audience.
So one post every workday is what companies should aim for. Alli Manning is the senior manager of creative networks at Contently. She says it’s important for businesses to avoid looking stale. That’s where the need for content generators comes in.
“On the internet obviously there’s a million-and-one different outlets that someone can change screens [to]. And if your corporate boarding becomes monotonous in any way you invariably lose traffic. So incorporating freelancers into your existing team or [using] solely freelancers, we believe increases the stickiness and attractiveness of your content,” says Manning.
Social Media Vs. Content Creation
Is writing social media posts something a content creator does? There’s no definitive answer but there is a difference between a social media manager and a content creator — even if they appear to overlap on the surface.
A good social media manager takes care of a company’s daily Facebook posts, tweets, blog posts and the daily monitoring of activity. This is basically a full-time job that you would pay a salaried employee to handle. In general content creators aren’t expected to manage social media channels.
Scripted.com offers different price packages for social media posts, sold in groups of twenty-five. So, twenty-five Facebook posts will cost you either US$149 or $229 depending on the expertise of the writer. Twenty-Five tweets will cost either $99 or $149.
Knowing The Costs
So how much should you pay for written content? The answer depends on the subject matter, preferred pricing structure, the type of content you’re creating and the skill level of the creator.
The two simplest ways to price content are per word or per hour. If you’re going to pay hourly then what’s a fair rate?
“You’d want to be paying 40-to-50 [dollars] an hour for a good content person,” says Kendall.
Kendall’s CloudPeeps is one of a number of companies that connects businesses with people who make content. The amount you pay for that content creation can vary widely depending on a number of factors. But she says, it ultimately comes down to getting what you pay for.
“You can pay sometimes 30 dollars an hour, but I wouldn’t recommend going below [that]. Good freelancers really have to have a base wage. And if you’re looking at anyone who charges 10 to 15 dollars an hour, even less on some sites, that’s really what you get.”
Manning agrees with this sentiment. Her company breaks their pay-rate into three different tiers. The highest tier commands the highest prices.
“So tier three is hard or niche, and in that tier we have companies who cover things like finance, B2B tech, corporate finance, the kind of expertise stuff… Tier two is more personal finance, your pop psychology kind of stuff. And then tier one is lifestyle. So sports, beauty, health, fitness, that kind of stuff. Our prices range from higher for the more niche stuff all the way down to the more straight-forward,” she says.
Contently doesn’t make their pricing publicly available, but their pay structure is pretty indicative of the industry. For harder pieces like white papers, or ones that require more expertise or insider knowledge, you’re going to pay more. For pieces that require only general knowledge and a flare for language, you can expect to pay less.
Each company has a slightly different pay model suited to their business, but the key variables that buyers should look at are word count and the writer’s level of expertise.
Most companies separate their pay structure into different levels depending on how much experience the writer has. CloudPeeps’ prices for one-time blog posts range from $75 to $200. Their hourly content rate runs between $40-$50 an hour up to $60-$80 an hour for the premium treatment. They also offer fixed rates. Someone producing content on a full-time basis will cost $500 a month for the basic treatment, while getting a more experienced writer goes for $1500 a month.
Other companies will include word-count in their pay structure.
“Most writers have a target price word [count] that they’re comfortable [with],” says Ryan Buckley, founder of Scripted.com. “It can range from 10 cents to 1 dollar per word, and a writer may take a lower price if there’s a guarantee of regular work or a passion for the topic that will make it easier for him or her to write.”
For example, Scripted’s prices differ depending on word count and the expertise of the writer. A short blog post of 350–450 words will run you $99 for a general writer up to $299 for a specialist. A standard post (550–650 words) costs either $139, $199, or $399 while a long post of 850–950 words costs between $199 and $599.
On the higher end of the spectrum you have NewsCred, who provide a monthly service to manage all of your content marketing needs. NewsCred offers software to help companies plan, create and manage their content. Its customers include Visa, Pepsi, and NASDAQ.
Some companies may also find a hybrid model useful. Where a specific writer has enough clout to get pieces published in bigger publications. In cases like this the writer may have a minimum required payment for a piece, and beyond that a per-word rate with a cap. This model incentivizes the writer and protects the company from uncontrolled costs. Often, if the piece makes it into a higher-profile publication the writer will receive a bonus. Deals like this are worked out on a case-by-case basis.
Breaking It Down
The lack of solid data means it’s hard to make conclusive statements about how much a company should be paying a freelance writer. But we’ve combed through the pricing structures of the more well-known companies and have come up with a basic guide.
Company Cost Notes Scripted $99 — $599 — Breaks down pieces by word count
- Cost is higher depending on the expertise of the writer
- Writers receive approximately $275/blog post + 15% “agent’s fee” to Contently
(Source: TechCrunch article)
UpWork 10% of project fee Ranges from $5+ for 1,000 word post. — Pay to UpWork is dependent on the project fee you agree to with the writer Freelancer 3% of project fee or US$3, whichever is greater.
Ranges from $5+ for 1,000 word post. — Pay to Freelancer is dependent on the project fee you agree to with the writer NewsCred $3.5K — $6.5K and up / month — Price changes depending on the intensity of the service you request
When you’re putting that much content out into the world it can be easy to succumb to the desire to cut costs. But according to Buckley, that’s a bad idea.
“Quality over quantity for sure,” he says.
Scriptly.com is another company that connects content producers to the people who need it. Buckley says finding a niche and exploiting it can be the biggest help.
“One of the best ways to do it is if you have unique and-or exclusive access to data. There’s a bunch of evidence that shows that if you can write about trends that no one else can see, because you tap into your own server and see something that no one else has, and you write about that, those posts do extraordinarily well. At least in the tech community.”
“You can take that same kind of rule and apply it to any other industry as well. But the point is, it’s much better to spend your time and effort producing a smaller number of really good posts than a larger number of forgettable [ones].”
Know What You Want
In this digital age we live in, producing content is one of the best ways for a business to generate traffic. But it’s quality over quantity.
Most experts believe that spending between $30 and $50 an hour for a talented freelancer with SEO experience and knowledge is about right. But there is also a place for lower-cost work when it becomes necessary to produce content more frequently.
A business, website, app or any other type of platform that’s interested in producing content should know what they want. Producing quality content can be expensive, but it’s also worth it.
Editor’s note: Gigster is always looking for top writers. Our general rates are USD$400 for a 1,000+ word post (like this one). We pay well because we expect the best. If you’re interested please email your LinkedIn, any links to online writing profiles and links to the published pieces you’re most proud of to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Startup, IT & journalism backgrounds preferred. We always pay weekly and on-time. If you have large social followings then let us know. Make the subject line count and please include your availability.