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.

My Rates

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.

Your Thoughts

What are your thoughts about content creation pricing? I’m interested in hearing from both writers and people who hire writers.

3 thoughts on “What Are You Paying For When You Buy Content?”
  1. You’ve hit the nail right on the head for a lot of writers. Trying to decide what our work is worth is hard. Are we charging too much? Too little? Trying to convince prospective clients that we are worth $50 or more for a page or two of writing is hard enough sometimes, even harder if we ourselves don’t believe it. Writers need to understand the value of what they offer, and charge accordingly. It’s too easy for some of us (um. Me.) to underestimate our skills.
    Great post. 🙂

  2. This is a topic I struggle with every day as a writer. Sometimes paring an article down to 500 words can be far more labor intensive than turning out a comprehensive article already written that goes way over. Some subjects are just too big for 500 words…and editing is time consuming. I’d rather be paid by the page and go with the flow.

  3. I’m dealing with this issue now as I work to re-strategize my business and subsequently the rates I charge. If we are just talking about content, I’m starting to realize that the extent to which a writer needs to research a topic can be a big part of the rate setting process. No one can argue against the fact that there is quite a bit of crap on the web these days. There will always be clients looking to pay bottom dollar for content. But If you’re a writer who work hard to produce clearly written, informative, well-researched content, you want to be paid accordingly for your efforts whether it’s per project, word or by the hour. Time, as in billable hours, is a very finite writer’s resource and needs to be carefully figured into the equation.

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