In the fall, we addressed a big question in content marketing: How much should you pay freelance writers? Or, if you are a freelance writer, how much should you charge? It’s kind of hard to know unless someone tells you, right?
Initially we created an infographic, “Pay Rates for Freelance Writers,” to break it down. We provided average rates per content and writer type based on our own experience at ClearVoice. But we wanted to collect more widespread data, so we turned to Google. Surprisingly, the results from other sources fell short. Nearly every article we found was outdated — or, it scooted around the question with a general “it depends” answer (it does depend, but c’mon, give us somethin’).
“I never really know what the going rate is. I don’t want to underpay or overpay. I’d like to pay fairly, but it’s tough to understand what the going rate is.”
– A marketer in the media industry
Naturally, after The Great(ly vague) Internet Search, we became just as curious as our clients. In this constantly evolving industry, what is the standard? We decided to conduct a survey to provide professionals with the most recent information on the going rate for content written by freelancers. We surveyed both marketers and freelance writers, asking questions about pay, agreement types, industry/specialty and their general thoughts on the topic.
This is what we found.
There were two common themes
- Freelance writers are underpaid
- You get what you pay for
Surprisingly, marketers and freelancers alike expressed these opinions. Thirty-five percent of writers who commented stated they feel underpaid. Fifty percent of marketers who commented said they believe writers who charge more produce higher quality work, which saves them money in the long run. Twenty-five percent of freelancers echoed this sentiment, stating that publishers will get what they pay for, and need to understand that quality content requires fair wages.
“Content providers, especially writers, are grossly underpaid. Our company is guilty of taking advantage of this, too. I really have to go to bat to get higher pay for these people.” – A marketer in the legal industry
Most pay or charge per article, not per word
We found that most content professionals prefer to do business on a per article/project basis. Seventy-five percent of marketers and 62 percent of freelance writers said they pay/charge a flat rate per article. Some marketers also stated they occasionally pay per word or hour, and only one respondent said he pays by retainer (with the exception of social media content).
Marketers’ per-article rates vary greatly by content type, ranging from as low as $25 per blog post up to $2,500 for lengthy white papers. The sweet spot for a 400- to 600-word blog post was between $50 and $250.
A surprising amount of freelance writers charge less than what marketers are willing to pay
“Pay rates are quite variable, but quality is almost always reflected in the rate. The cost of using a bad writer is much more than the cost of using a good one.”
– A marketer in the tech & travel industries
Marketers will pay for add-on services, influencers
Fifteen percent of marketers said they are willing to pay for such add-on services as research, sources, links, revisions and/or social amplification. Many are also willing to pay more if the content requires a byline or an influencer to write it.
Check out our infographic of the survey results, and let us know what you think in the comments below.