How to pay your freelance writers
Building a freelance writing team, either for a content-based website or a company blog, is a challenging task. Not only do you have to find talented writers that can communicate your message and embody your brand, you also must determine how to pay them.
Here are three ways you can pay freelance writers, as well as how to determine the best type for your project.
What it means
Pricing content per word means the writer is paid based on the number of words in the article. This type of pricing model is the standard for journalists and is typically expected by someone with journalism education or experience.
It is popular in the journalism industry because newspapers have ‘tight content’ that does not have much flexibility in terms of word counts. Freelance writers know exactly how long an article can be and do not vary from those guidelines.
Since they know exactly how much space they have, publishers can also budget accordingly, based on the number of pages they print. If you publish content that is viral-focused, has standardized word counts, or is 350 words or less, this model may be best for you.
Budgeting for “Price-Per-Word.”
A writer’s expectation when accepting price per word assignments can vary widely. While journalists typically enjoy somewhat standardized rates, it is not true for online writers. ClearVoice, an online platform dedicated to managing content marketing campaigns, states that the average freelance writer expects between 10c and $1 per word. That means a single 350-word blog post can cost anywhere from $35 to $350.
You must have clear project expectations when choosing this model. Because freelancer rates expectations can widely vary, clear project requirements help lower costs during price negotiations. Many freelancers set different per-word rates depending on the project. If your writing task is something they find particularity easy, they may be willing to lean toward the lower rates.
Price-Per-Word Quick Guide
Best For Viral content or micro-content (including social media)
Common with: Freelance Journalists, Journalism Students
Pricing: No set industry standard, often based on content type
What it means
Pricing per article is also known as flat rate pricing, and it places emphasis on the finished piece rather than the individual words. This pricing model makes the most sense for content that tells a story, since the entire article, not just it’s length, is the focus. Paying per article is common with storytellers, copywriters, and bloggers.
Whereas a pay-per-word model is often used in newspaper content, paying by the story is sometimes seen in magazines. These types of publications typically have more flexible word counts, and it would be a nightmare to budget content if there’s lots of it.
With per article pricing, publishers can set budgets based on the number of content pieces, rather than the space it takes up. If your content is long-form or has flexible word counts, per article pricing may be the best way to go.
Budgeting for “Price-per-Article.”
Per-article-pricing is generally more comfortable for an experienced freelance writer that has already priced out their time. This is because, for the most part, there are very few guidelines on what is average. Some beginning freelancers may base their rates on what is being offered for content in leading offline magazines, which unfortunately do not equate to the expectations for most digital content.
Established freelancers, and freelance writing teams, often have set rates based on experience with similar projects. These freelancers will save you the hassle of negotiation, as they often do not budge on their prices. Prepackaged content, such as what can be purchased on Fiverr.com, is often sold using this model.
Price-Per-Word Quick Guide
Best For Story-based content or long-form content (including blogs)
Common with: Copywriters, Marketing Students
Pricing: No set industry standard, often based on expected time output
What it means
Hourly, by far is the easiest way to pay freelance writers, but it is not always the most cost effective. An hourly budget directly compensates the writer for their time, regardless of what they are producing. Hourly freelancers typical provide a variety of content, rather than a single task.
Hourly payments are ideal for those with editorial, design or marketing experience. These freelancers may have worked in agency settings where they were paid hourly, or they may have completed supplemental task (such as image design or editing) for a publication.
Hourly payments let publishers control budget, but not necessarily output. This can be a problem if your freelance team is remote. When working with a virtual freelancer on an hourly basis, ensuring productivity is a must. Consider tools such as Screenshot Monitor to make sure you are getting your money’s worth.
Budgeting for hourly pay freelancers
Unlike other payment methods, there are some guidelines for paying freelance writers hourly. Where the variability occurs is in the pacing and quality of work. When negotiating hourly rates, ask the writer how long it will take them to produce your content, or ask for a timed test piece.
Hourly Quick Guide
Best For Nontraditional content such as image-heavy content, or a variety of content
Common with: Content writers, Social media marketers
Pricing: Set industry standard, range in output
Freelance rate pricing is not hard science, and most freelancers are flexible. When negotiating projects, consider choosing a combination of methods that might attract the largest pool of candidates. Once you’ve agreed on terms, head over to a Freelance Management System like Bonsai to finalize them and get started.