I got all angry about Google’s Matt Cutts waxing poetic about Amazon Mechanical Turk as a form of sweatshop labor for linkbait. I shouldn’t be surprised that they’re not just interested in getting the written word on the cheap… they actual want professional artists to work for free! (Because Google really has to worry about their budget these days – they only reported a profit of nearly $1.5 billion in the first quarter of this year.)
According to Matt Cutts of Google, Internet marketers should avoid the unethical practice of buying links by paying a few pennies to the folks who complete tasks via Amazon Mechanical Turk and scoring free links from their efforts. Let me rephrase that: Google says it’s wrong to pay for other people to link to your Web site, but it’s totally cool to score hundreds or thousands of links – not by paying a professional copywriter to create an awesome resource for you – but by spending about 20 bucks for a handful of people to perform cheap labor for you with Amazon Mechanical Turk. Don’t believe me? Watch this video.
I’ve been working on a lot of content for my article writing clients. There is a lot of information “out there” on the Internet that writers like me use for their research. Some topics have more information available than others, and we all have a short list of Web sites – or classes of Web sites – that can be considered trusted sources.
I have to admit, the whole concept of what to charge for content creation can be quite confusing for writers, which makes the concept of how much to pay for content confusing for content buyers. There are all sorts of different methods used to bill for content creation, and I’d like to take a look at some of the most popular.
Pay Per Hour
Some writers get paid by the hour. Most often, these writers are hired on a full-time or part-time basis by a specific company. Their whole job is to write whatever the company needs them to write, whether it’s Web site content, sales letters, press releases, blog posts, or any other hundred things needed by one department or another.
These writers get paid quite literally for every minute they spent brainstorming, researching, preparing, writing, formatting, editing, and finalizing the content they create. If a writing project takes longer than expected, the writer does not get shorted for going above and beyond the call of duty to do things right. On the other hand, companies may not know if all the time they are paying for is time being well spent. While many writers are quite diligent and work very hard, others are not as productive.
Pay Per Word
The prospect of getting paid by the word can be quite exciting for some writers, especially those of us who have a tendency to be quite verbose. Getting paid by the word encourages writers to fully develop the subjects they are writing about. When writers are asked to deliver 300 words, they know they will be creating a far broader, more generic article than they would when asked to deliver 750 words on a subject.
The problem for both writers and those that hire them is that of filler. Writers may try to stretch their word count with unnecessary words and phrases that do not add to the overall value of the piece. While some writers may do this intentionally to squeeze some extra money out of their work, others may do it out of perceived necessity. If they are contracted to write 750 words on a subject, where they are getting paid specifically to write 750 words, they may struggle to add more when they discover their fully developed article comes up short at 625 words. Paying by word does not take into account time spent doing research on subjects with little information that is readily available.
Pay Per Page
Many writers opt to be paid by page written. While the definition of a page is open for interpretation, freelance writers often define a based based on a word count range. As they are not being paid by the word, this grants the writer the freedom to determine the appropriate length for each individual topic.
When companies pay per page, they may wonder why they are paying the same amount for a 550 word page as they are for a 950 word page. The answer lies in the fact that the amount of time spent on each page is probably pretty comparable. While pages of 500 words or less are often generic overviews of a topic, and are thus billed accordingly because of the minimal research needed, pages up to 1,000 words are generally written as comprehensive resources on specific topics. Some topics have more information available than others. When an abundance of information is available, writers may find it easy to come up with 980 words. When informational resources are scarce, it may take just as long to research enough to write 450 words as it did to write the previous 980 word page.
Essentially, when you pay for content by page, you are paying for the amount of research, time, and effort involved to create each page.
This all, of course, applies only to general Web content, the type of content designed to provide information for your visitors. Sales copy, press releases, and other types of promotional content are a completely different animal. But with that disclaimer out of the way…
My article writing rates were created on a per page basis. I have separate rates for up to 500 words and over 500 words. This has very little to do with actual word count, and more to do with the extensiveness of each page.
If you hire me to write 100 of the <500 word pages, I know you want some pretty basic content that won’t require much research. You are billed accordingly, even if I happen to go over 500 words on some pages.
If you hire me to write 100 of the >500 word pages, I know you want me to do some pretty extensive research, going into as much detail as possible, up to about 1,000 words. Basically, I will do everything in my power to make your page a better resource than any other single page online on the topic. Sometimes I’ll hit over 900 words, but other times I may not scratch 500. But rest assured, I probably spent just as long on the shorter page – maybe even longer – than I did on the 900 word page, just trying to find enough material to make each page as informative as possible.
What are your thoughts about content creation pricing? I’m interested in hearing from both writers and people who hire writers.
It’s been one week since I launched my new business, and I can’t believe I’m booked for the next month! Crazy, right? I’ve got a few requests for content hanging out there, and it kills me that I’ve had to turn work away.
So I’m going to talk with some business type people for some advice on how this works. I know that I need to file a d/b/a, and I should talk to an accountant… And then I’ll be looking into adding another writer or two to help me out with the writing. (I’ll still do final edits on all work, because it’s still my name and reputation we’re talking about here.)
This is still all in the “idea” phase… But I wanted to let everyone know what I’m working on. So if you were one of the people who was disappointed to hear I was booked, maybe you can be slightly less disappointed now.
I’ll make an official post when everything is in place.
P.S. I’ll be contacting writers individually. I have specific people in mind based on the content requests I’ve received already.