One of the challenges of running a company blog is finding affordable writers that can deliver content reliably. It's not easy finding a capable writer who both has availability to take on new clients and fits the budget. That's why many content marketing platforms are able to charge thousands of dollars per month for access to vetted freelancer marketplaces.
This availability issue is also one of the reasons why many traditional publishers have launched in-house content studios. Providing access to journalists with an editorial approach to commercial content, many media brands are able to find a stronger profit margin. Of course, these custom campaigns come with a hefty price tag.
So, for those who do not have thousands of dollars for content marketing software or tens of thousands for a custom branded content campaign, below are some benchmarks for what you should pay a freelancer to write for your company's blog. Payoneer's global report pegs freelancer rates at $19 per hour across all professions. However, there's a great variance when it comes to freelance writers as Venngage discovers in this epic analysis of how many words writers need to publish to afford to live in various American cities:
Clearly, it's not cheap to use high-quality writers that are subject matter experts. And when reviewing these figures, don't forget to include the time it takes to find, vet, and manage your freelancers. Often this is overlooked, and really adds a lot of sunk cost into managing your brand's blog.
When you order something off the dollar menu you know that you're making trade-offs and quality. It might be cheap and taste good in the short term, but in the long-term, you know that it's not really doing any good.
Long gone are the days when churning out basic blog posts was sufficient to win in SEO or content marketing. Sure, there are still sites like Fiverr that can connect you to cheap sources of writing. If you really want to commit to caring about your brand, it pays to have quality content.
And beware of asking experts to work for less. Not only is it demeaning, but it can backfire. Comments on forums for freelancers can be quick to highlight bad clients, as the quote below shows. And some places, such as either this rate tracker or this rate tracker, disclose brand names!
At the moment, several clients demand expert level offering a 5-dollar-budget.
-Worker on Upwork
All that being said, we get that there are times when speed and price trump quality. In those cases, you can expect to pay about $20 for a blog article. It'll be a little less if you're just looking to get something edited.
Here are a few services in this category, some of which overlap with others below as quality can vary greatly:
At the flea market, quality controls are there but not stringent. Some markets are curated and others are welcome to anyone who pays the fee. Be wary of Platforms that connect to freelancers. Other can definitely be diamond in the ruff, there are plenty of vendors that are less than scrupulous.
Generally seen as content mills, the writing quality can vary tremendously...so be sure to ask for writing samples and references. And pay attention to reviews: You want to be sure that you get the work promised in the time allotted.
Given the competitiveness of these sites, and the fact that many writers are not based in more expensive western areas, expect to pay between $5 and $20 an hour. With a blog post taking anywhere from 1 to 4 hours, you should pay no more than $100 per blog article.
Services in this category:
One of the benefits for retailers who choose to set up shop in malls is the so-called billboard effect. Simply being there exposes them to foot traffic. This is kind of like a journalist working for media outlets: There work at the outlet speaks for itself, and often drives business to a freelance career. After all, many journalists are not making that much money anymore.
One of the most straightforward ways to find a writer you like is to approach…a writer you like! You already have an idea of their area of expertise, their writing style, and their voice.
In most cases, expect to pay around $10-$30 an hour or around $150-$200 an article. Not all writers will be available for freelance commercial work, and some will be far more expensive than this. However, journalists in one industry are likely to know other writers who might be available for freelance projects.
A quality writer costs a minimum of $150 per article. For an eBook expect to pay over $2,000.
-per Kapost, a content marketing platform
If you've been unsuccessful in finding a journalist, there are services that offer a matching platform. Of course, the company is taking a significant chunk from the writer's take. So even if there is a subscription model plus content creation fees, the writer is still being paid far less than that they what they would be if you contracted with them directly. This can lead to high writer churn and constant on-boarding commitments on the client's side.
One key advantage, like many malls, is the variety of outlets with different levels of quality and price. You can generally find the right resource for the right project -- even if it takes some time to shop around. And those vendors that are on these platforms are generally more professional and experienced.
Services in this category are numerous, as it's the most popular blend of freelancer matching platform and content management software:
A boutique is all about the curated approach to retailing. It's about creating an environment, an atmosphere. This type of craft takes time, just like building your brand. Brand building is a long-term activity. It's a marathon that begins to pay dividends as time goes on.
Some of the journalists that we mentioned in the previous section may not actually be available at a rate of less than $30 dollars an hour (if at all).
For a well-researched original article, expect to pay between $150 and $750 depending on experience, length, and availability of any required research. Here's how that pans out for writers with domain expertise:
Deep domain expertise is increasingly hard to find, and so it's worth paying for foundational knowledge. You'll spend less time onboarding them, and far less time explaining your industry or dealing with misunderstandings about how a particular issue or trend is playing out in your industry.
And of course, at Ghost Works, we're all about the boutique approach! It's that personal attention that gives us the deepest insight into the right kind of content to create for any organization. We want to be a team member in your organization, not a temporary resource. We see our service as effectively replacing .5 of a seat that you might otherwise hire.
Services in this category often overlap with "the mall," as many of the enterprise-level tools offer both bespoke service and a platform for connecting brands to freelancers:
When benchmarking against the highest quality workers, we like to refer to the Editorial Freelancers Association. This organization's members are at the top of their respective fields, and this association has the most comprehensive view of the market rate for quality work (full rate recommendations here).
While it may seem easier to price by the hour, it's far more effective than the medium term to set a per-article price. There's less confusion with writers, and you'll generally get better output. As this self-disclosed database of freelancer rates shows, paying per article is the most popular.
Whichever route you go, from the dollar menu all the way up to the boutique, always remember that the quality of the content matters more than ever. Capturing the attention of valuable prospects takes time, commitment, and a team that collaborates to tell an organization's most compelling stories.