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 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.
Wow. I’m happy to say that I’m pretty booked up for the next month or two. If we’ve been in contact about a project, but we haven’t nailed down the details, I’ll be in touch about whether or not I’ll be able to take it on. Right now, I’m booking into the end of March and beginning of April.
If you’d like, I do happen to know some excellent writers that I used to work with who are always happy to take on new private clients. If I’m not able to work with you at this time, I can recommend someone else who could help you out.
I’ll be answering emails from yesterday throughout the day. My area has a high wind advisory, and we’ve been losing power (and therefore WiFi) intermittently since the middle of last night, so I may not be as promptly responsive as I’d like. I will answer everyone by the end of tonight. (If we lose power long enough, we’ll end up at a hotel with Internet access and I’ll take care of business from there!)