How much do you pay for content?

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I have been working on hiring writers for the first time and am having trouble deciding on who to go with.

Do you just go with a more expensive writer for all content? Or do you use them for the more money material, and use someone cheaper for the filler posts?

I would prefer if all content was higher quality, but find it dumb to pay extra for simple posts like "Recipe roundup" types.
 
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Hey @JordanS

It can be a difficult task to find someone who is both cheap and good quality.

When starting out it is important to test several writers and choose the best out of that bunch.

It took me a good few months to find the ideal writer for my sites, but it was definitely worth testing out writers to ensure that they were a good fit!

I currently use Upwork to find my writers.

Hope this helps!
 
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I've written full-time in my industry for close to a decade. Here are a few miscellaneous pieces of advice:

  • Try out a handful of different writers and to see what you like the best based on the price range you're interested in.
  • More expensive often means better, but sometimes it just means more expensive.
  • You should expect to pay a whole lot more for sales copy because that's a different skill set than other types of content producing.
  • Having one writer that you're a good fit with and who can turn over some volume is better than having five that you can't rely on.
  • Organize your assignments to your writer in some way that's easy to use with clear deadlines. A shared spreadsheet, Trello board or similar online is along the lines of what I'm talking about here.
  • Expect to hear a lot of weird/random/unlikely excuses about deadlines not being reached. A lot of people's grandma will "suddenly die" (which actually caught me some flak a few years ago when my grandma really did die because it's such a common excuse).
  • Have an idea of what you want in terms of formatting and communicate that ahead of time (ie: HTML tags, Word document, plain text, use of headers, whatever).
That's probably enough to give you something to mull over. Good luck.
 

stackcash

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If you're just starting, it is absolutely essential to work with a writer directly at first. It will end up being cheaper for you and you will be able to have a great degree of control.

Writers in the $.01 to $.025 range will generally be awful. But, there's always the needle in the haystack.

At the $.025 to $.06 price range, you'll still need to be diligent about weeding through the poor writers, but you'll have good options here. The key is to know exactly what you're looking for from the writer(s) and to interview appropriately.

At $.05+ per word, you're entering into the professional freelance writer and subject matter expert territory. You'll find a lot of quality writers here easier. However, be aware of writers who jack their rates up without anything to back it up. A lot of writers think that they can charge a lot of money simply because they're "experienced."

At the end of the day, dealing with writers directly is a process of putting out advertisements, interviewing a lot of people, testing the ones that appeal to you, and keeping the writers that produced test assignments that met your expectations.
 
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If you're just starting, it is absolutely essential to work with a writer directly at first. It will end up being cheaper for you and you will be able to have a great degree of control.
To this point in particular:

I've written for content farms like Textbroker in the past, and I don't want to knock them because I know people who are high-level writers there who make a non-trivial amount of money part-time. From the client standpoint, however, there's a significant amount of money being paid just for using their service instead of working with writers directly. Their markup used to be 30 percent, but I think they recently increased it to 35 percent.

So OP, what do you get for that extra money? They have a strong quality control program in place that's level-appropriate, and they allow you to search their database of writers to find someone whose areas of knowledge match what you're looking for. This is something that you could skip out on altogether if you invested a little bit of time upfront in finding a writer yourself, establishing communication, making it clear what you're looking for, etc.
 

secretagentdad

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Stop trying to pay per word.

Give people respect and and peace of mind via long term commitments.

Writers with stable lives make better content.

The market rate for solid quality editorial content in English is around 100-200$ a day. Even if you get someone below market rate you're just going to end up churning through people as they burn out or move up in the world.

Sure you can keep the prices lower by paying per word if you're willing to invest in micromanagement but why bother?

When you don't pay per word your odds of ever getting that one in 10 knock it out of the park article goes up. 1 homerun beats 100 pieces of filler.

Different subjects and approaches take varying degrees of time. When you pay per word people just churn out mediocrity. Treat people right, give them some autonomy and some of them will surprise you.
 
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^ I suppose the counter to that could be to hire an editor to deal with the churn.
 

CCarter

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I think the pay per word model doesn't work well when it comes to quality. Yeah I know "SEO" is all about word count bla bla bla - However if you look at it from a user centric standpoint instead of an SEO one you'll soon realize you don't need a 2000 word article on "how to boil an egg".

So the model is flawed. @Potatoe and @RomesFall had a good solution since the per word model is the de-facto in this industry (post #31): put the money in a retainer then assign content pieces that is needed - once each content piece is done to satisfaction then pull out whatever word count it comes out to from the retainer and pay the writer. That way if a content idea needs only 200 words or 20,000 words the writer can work on getting the message across without needing to worry about "word count".

Honestly paying per word is like paying an illustrator or website designer per pixel - to make more money they'll just make the image/design bigger and bigger - doesn't mean it will be better quality or get the message across.

The model doesn't work if you are looking for quality - when the writer is inexperience in the subject and/or has to research the content and niche to get a grasp of what's going on - usually the only thing that can come out the first batch is mediocre fluff.
 
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Imo pr. word can work for very standardized article with a writer who is very experienced in writing that specific type of article. Product descriptions for one.
 

RomesFall

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So the model is flawed. @Potatoe and @RomesFall had a good solution since the per word model is the de-facto in this industry (post #31): put the money in a retainer then assign content pieces that is needed - once each content piece is done to satisfaction then pull out whatever word count it comes out to from the retainer and pay the writer. That way if a content idea needs only 200 words or 20,000 words the writer can work on getting the message across without needing to worry about "word count".
100% @CCarter

In my opinion, you make it about word count and writers focus is word count, not quality.

Just in the same way as if you take a real estate agent, give them X% and they can get a sale for 200,000 or 220,000 (but 220,000 takes 6 weeks longer) they will push you to take 200,000 as the difference for them is a few hundred bucks.

Always watch what the incentive for someone is basically.

Also, this is just one example but:



More high word count pieces of content are stranded like moby dick in those positions than you'd think.
 

CloudyQ

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I have been working on hiring writers for the first time and am having trouble deciding on who to go with.

Do you just go with a more expensive writer for all content? Or do you use them for the more money material, and use someone cheaper for the filler posts?

I would prefer if all content was higher quality, but find it dumb to pay extra for simple posts like "Recipe roundup" types.
Having tried all types of writers for most of my sites (typically affiliate ones) the answer is it depends:

- For an in-depth article with layout, tone, engagement and conversational requirements with minor or no edits at all, I have found the sweet spot to be around 100$ for 2000 words
- For an article that has a clear reference article somewhere where you just regurgitate the information with nice-flowing native conversational english, it is around 60$ for 2000 words
- I tend to also quite a bit rely on freelancers I have worked with in last few years so I know the level of post-edits required.

In summary, although it sounds like a cliche, depends on what your goal for the content is and how cash-strapped are you. I don't say this in the disrespectful way but when I have a client who can only pay lets say 75$ for the 2000 words, I eventually go for 60$ and end up spending 15-30 minutes editing it.

Its worth to note you will be highly likely to hit few gems for 60$ price range with no edits required but most (95%+) will struggle (native writers or otherwise) with the engagement aspects of the article rather than the grammar side of it.

For e.g., I for one, can hardly write an engaging article from scratch but give me a fiverr or an iwriter article, I can edit and make it more engaging by editing and adding more content to it. Don't ask me why as i have not found an answer for it in ages!
 
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100% @CCarter

In my opinion, you make it about word count and writers focus is word count, not quality.

Just in the same way as if you take a real estate agent, give them X% and they can get a sale for 200,000 or 220,000 (but 220,000 takes 6 weeks longer) they will push you to take 200,000 as the difference for them is a few hundred bucks.

Always watch what the incentive for someone is basically.

Also, this is just one example but:



More high word count pieces of content are stranded like moby dick in those positions than you'd think.
Thanks for the Surfer callout, hadn't heard of this tool before! Going to poke around at this today for a couple keywords I'm targeting
 

mikey3times

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Semi-related...

How do you all handle 1099s for freelancers that you hire direct? Or do you all hire through a service?

(I should probably hire an accountant, anyway, but I am so small that the accounting is pretty easy.)
 
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In my opinion, you make it about word count and writers focus is word count, not quality.
How does one evaluate an article on "quality"?

I have an extensive checklist for my writers to follow but I don't think that checklist actually helps then to produce a quality piece of content. I know because some writers produce average quality work with it, and some product great work with it.

I've tried every payment structure I can think of, but it doesn't seem to make a difference in the outcome. I find the writer either "gets it" or they don't.
 
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mackem

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How does one evaluate an article on "quality"?
I've been thinking about this a lot recently and I've come to the conclusion that just like functional fitness and inner beauty it means very little on its own.

For me the quality of writing comes down to initially providing me with an answer or insight that's easy to understand and then going a bit deeper on the why/what/how.

The second criteria is fluff. This has become my pet hate.

I recently looked at pancake recipes and it's actually impressive how some bloggers can get a 2k word article out of a 3 ingredient dish!
 

Callum Short

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How much are people paying for guest posting content?

My local writer costs me £70 per article, which I have no problem with and would happily pay double if not triple that for content that is going to be used on my site.

Although, with guest posting, I feel hesitant to spend the same amount when the content is going to be third-party hosted. Also, the lower I get that price per article the more outreach I can do and scalability I can achieve.
 
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I pay from 20$ to 100$ per 1000 words. It depends on the quality and language. What I do to cut on costs is competitors analysis. I always look for the right amount of content to rank on a chosen keyword. Other words - there is no golden rule that you should go for 500, 1000 or 2000 words per article.

I pick keywords that don't require skyscraper articles to rank on top - it helps to spend money the effective way.
 
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I pay around $15 per 1,000 words and get widely varying quality for that cost. I've probably gone through 20 writers in order to find a small team that is reasonably competent. I have a couple of writers who produce shockingly good content for that cost. Most of the others produce acceptable quality content.

I would probably pay the best of them 3x+ per word, given their quality, but they are often slow to submit content for me.

Regardless, at that price, everything needs heavy editing from me -- something I'm currently ok with, as I like to polish everything as much as possible before it goes live.

There's no question the pay per word model is flawed, and I always encourage the writers to write to the length that is appropriate for the topic. But when starting out, it's the easiest way to get a benchmark for writer quality and speed.

I've seen terrible writers ask for a much higher cost per word, and have seen pretty solid writers work for low prices. Often there seems to be bizarrely little relationship between quality and price.

The keys are to keep trying new writers in order to weed out the poorer ones and to build really specific templates to make the job as easy as possible for the writer.
 
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A lot of hate for the pay per word model. I've been paying per word for years and I'm happy with the quality. I pay around $18 for 1000 words and I'm happy with the articles I get and being able to develop sites fairly cheaply with such rate per word. Of course, for some niches you will have to pay a lot more to be find an expert but it's not the case for mine.
 
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A lot of hate for the pay per word model. I've been paying per word for years and I'm happy with the quality. I pay around $18 for 1000 words and I'm happy with the articles I get and being able to develop sites fairly cheaply with such rate per word. Of course, for some niches you will have to pay a lot more to be find an expert but it's not the case for mine.
In an ideal world, writers would simply know the target word count to convey their information in an effective, coherent way without superfluous text, distraction, and word-padding.

But if you're farming out your writing, you generally have to suggest some parameters. In my case, I'm the one doing the keyword research, and I can see what the competition is producing in terms of quality and scale. The easiest metric to identify and clarify to the writers in order to top the competition is the word count, as it's hard to quantify information quality.

Some of my writers pad their word count and always happen to land at like 60 words over my rough suggested length (amazingly!) while others I use have become comfortable working with a wide target range and really do emphasize quality. I try my best to hold onto the latter writers.

On the edit pass, I seem to almost always add to the word count my writers end up with, fleshing out sections here and there. But I'm on the lookout for extra words I can cut out to simplify the text and improve the funnel.

Wordcount will naturally increase time on page metrics, which should be a positive in Google's All Seeing Eyes, but ridiculous excess will turn off readers, and Google should be able to see that as well.
 
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I pay $10 per 500 words, US native writer who provides me with well-researched content. I have dozens of sites ranking mostly based on good content and very minimal link building.
 
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I just had some very bad experiences with writers.
3 writers who charged a "modest" amount, which on the US market would be well above average, who were plain awful.
At least one of them had a masters degree in her language! I write better by a solid margin. I don't know how anyone can charge money for such low quality. PBN peddlers keep a lot of shitty writers in business I think.
I am fine with writing most, but it gives me scaling problems.
 
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I used to do freelance writing, so have some first-hand experience on this, and have also purchased a lot of terrible, bad, good, and excellent quality content over the years.

If you go the route of finding multiple writers in order to save money, it's best to make sure your projects don't need a fast TAT. The writer is going to take other jobs besides yours, and will eventually get booked up, which will put a major jam in your operations. Paying a lump sum for content to be delivered to you as it's ready (with a reasonable expectation on time frame of delivery) will make you a writer's favorite client, because you don't add to deadline stress (you will get better quality work -- usually).

For really good content, I got my best results with 4c - 6c writers from areas of the US with low costs of living. For filler content, my best results from individual writers were in the 2c-3c range, not in the US. Not sure if it's worth the headache to juggle multiple freelancers for basic web content, though. If an agency can adequately give writers instructions, then it's worth the premium to avoid the headache, I think. My favorite one was Word Agents, who I think is actually on this forum as well. If I buy content in the future I will probably just use them. I'm not sure what their prices are now, but they used to be 3c/word, which was very reasonable considering the service you received.

Lots of writers overcharge, probably due to an inflated sense of self worth, or just because they realize they can. I saw a guy who offered 2c/word content jack his prices to 4c/word overnight. It was still 2c/word content. Once you get some clients though, you can steadily increase your rates because people are relying on you will probably not jump ship. Even if some do... you increased your rates enough where you are doing less work but making the same amount. This is another risk with hiring individual writers -- I jacked my prices up 3.33x in the span of my freelance writing time.
 
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I had a writer from India say this to me "That will be too less, thanks" after I was offering 3c/word. I read the comments saying pay per word is probably not the best thing and I totally agree but I've had good luck with 1c/word from like non US countries like Europe or Philippines. I will say I've found a some needles in the past and sent all my work to them. It's rare and even tougher to find now. I totally understand that there are good writers who deserve the higher end pay if they write like it but most of these guys might be 1c/word and trying to charge 3/4c a word because they think they are really good at writing.
 

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Lots of writers overcharge, probably due to an inflated sense of self worth, or just because they realize they can. I saw a guy who offered 2c/word content jack his prices to 4c/word overnight. It was still 2c/word content.
It's hardly an inflated sense of worth, more like they have so many clients they have to weed out some while still making the same money. He probably ended up doing half the work (losing half of his clients) for the same amount of money. Makes a lot of sense and is pretty much the de facto in creative industries. Either design 100 logos for $10 each or 1 logo for $1000.