How Much Should You Pay a Blog Writer?

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What should your budget be when you are ready to outsource some of your content creation? In other words…

What should you expect to pay a blog writer?

The problem is, there’s no one answer to that question. Just like you could pay vastly different prices for a pair of pants at different stores and price points, so too you can pay vastly different rates for a blog writing service.  So let’s break it down by what you could pay:

Dollar Store Blog Writing Services

Let’s assume you already know that if you head over to Fiverr or Upwork and hire someone to write you a blog post at $5 a pop, you’re going to get what you pay for: as in, not much.  Those writers are frequently not native English speakers, plagiarism is rampant, they probably have little to no copywriting education, know nothing about online sales, and you can forget about SEO. You’re not going to go that route, right?  I’m not sure we can be friends if you do—not because it hurts my writerly feelings (although it does a little bit), but because it’s just really bad business strategy.

Wal-Mart Blog Writing Services

In doing some research into my own competition recently, I discovered a couple of services out there that do pretty much what I do: they provide a business blog posts for a fee. Except, their fee is considerably lower than mine. In fact, I’ve seen them as low as $89 per month for four blog posts. (Which comes out to about $22 a post.) 

How do they do it?  They have economies of scale on their side (just like Wal-Mart).  For one thing, they hire a big team of writers.  I use the term hire loosely. Their writers do what’s called “working on spec,” which is short for speculation, which means they write the articles with no guarantee of being paid.

The way at least one of these services works is like this: a client comes in and says, “I want a blog post about the real estate market in Atlanta,” and then a team of hungry writers all jump on it, and the client gets a selection of blog posts on their topic.  They choose one, and that writer is paid for her work.  In theory, I suppose the writer could choose to buy all of them, maybe over the course of a few weeks, and all the writers would get paid, but there’s no guarantee of that for the writers.

Well, first of all, that’s pretty crappy for the writers.  Based on the prices these websites charge their customers, the writer isn’t getting paid very much even when their articles are chosen. Remember, the company takes a cut, too, so the writer is probably getting paid well south of $20 per post. 

That means, in order to make any kind of money doing this work, they need to churn out these blog posts as quickly as possible, which means doing as little research and prep work as possible.  They’re also probably going to be on the shorter side of whatever is the required minimum word count for the service (where’s the incentive for the writer to go longer or more in-depth?) and the content will probably be basically a rehash of  the top hits on Google for the same subject. The writer can’t afford to spend much time getting to know the client or her customer, and the client will probably get a different writer—different style, different voice—every week.

I can’t truly judge the quality of the work being turned out by these services because I haven’t seen it first hand. (Which is also why I’m not using the names of the companies—I’m not out to stir up bad blood, here.)  All I can do is draw some logical conclusions based on the facts.

JCPenney Blog Writing Services

Then you come to the writers you can find out there—some on sites like Elance or even Craigslist—who will write a blog post for $50–$200.

This is the bare minimum I would pay for a blog post or article, personally.

At this price, you can probably expect the person to have some experience, though not much. It might be a college student or recent grad looking to make some cash and a name for themselves. It might be someone moonlighting on the side. It might be someone who has decided that they’re going to hang out their shingle (digitally speaking) as a writer, and are just getting started.

You’ll probably get around 300 to maybe 500 words for this price, maybe they’ll do some research. If you cultivate a relationship with this person, they’ll get to know your business and your ideal reader better over time.  They may or may not have any copywriting experience.  Basically, it’s hit or miss; at this price you could get a great piece of work or a really bad one.

If you can find someone who writes well, is creative, does the research, communicates your business and passion, and does it all in a timely manner for this price, may I suggest that you negotiate a contract locking in that price for the next ten years? Because chances are as soon as they figure out how in demand their services are, their prices will go up. (That’s what happened to me, anyway.)

Nordstrom Blog Writing Services

These are the people who really know what they’re doing—and they’ve got the experience and the education to back it up. Their prices will probably be around $250 and up.  But for that price you will get a totally original, well researched article that’s specifically crafted for your business and your customers.  It will probably be upwards of 600 words, contain organic SEO and longtail search phrases, and will come nicely formatted (with headlines, subheads, bullets, etc.) ready to plunk down into WordPress or your CMS of choice.

If you develop a relationship with this writer over time, her work will only get better as she gets to know you, your business, and your customers in more detail.

An ebook from Internet marketing giant Kapost reports that marketers should expect to pay at least $150 per post from a reputable freelancer. For a long-form blog post or article (2,000+ words), they suggest budgeting $2,000.

And OK, yes, I might be a bit biased here—this is how I make my living, after all.  But for our clients who put us on retainer or pre-purchase a package, our rates per post come out closer to $250 per post. I’ve set my prices there because it’s a price that seems advantageous to both me and my clients.  We shoot for long-term relationships with our clients, and we structure our fees so that we can spend as much time and energy as we need researching and writing—without costing the clients more.

(For more information on our services and how to work with us, click here.)

The bottom line: How to decide how much to pay.

As with anything in this world, there’s a certain amount of “you get what you pay for” at work when hiring someone to help you create content. Could you find a great writer for a very inexpensive rate? Absolutely. They exist. But you’re going to have to work a lot harder to find them, and probably hire some not-so great ones along the way. (To me, that’s a waste of time and money…)

Here’s what I would suggest you ask yourself as you’re considering who to hire to help you out (and how much to pay them):

  • How much time/energy do you currently spend creating content yourself? What would that time be worth to you or your business if you could be doing other things—like serving clients or getting new ones?
  • Do you already have someone on staff that might be a good fit for blogging? Sometimes there’s an employee who would really thrive as your company’s chief content creator. Sometimes not.
  • What is your overall goal with your blog? If your blog’s purpose is only to help you rank higher in search listings, paying a lower price for articles that feature your preferred keywords might be fine. However, if you’d like more out of your blog (growing your list, converting readers to customers, amplifying your voice, growing your tribe), you’re going to need to expect more of your content creator.
  • What is the ROI of a blog post for your business? If you know that a blog post that generates leads is worth money in the bank to your biz, you can more easily justify the cost of creating it. 
  • How savvy is your reader? If your ideal readers are total newbies to your niche, you won’t have to worry about how familiar your writer is with your business. If, however, your readers are more sophisticated in your topic, you need a writer willing and able to put in the time to become an expert in your field.
  • How much involvement do you want to maintain in the process? If you’re looking to give up content creation completely—from coming up with topics to posting to Facebook (or soup to nuts as they say)—you’d better budget to pay well for that convenience. If you’re still interested in being very involved in the process, you might be able to get away with paying less.
  • Are you comfortable creating the strategy for your content marketing? You can invest in an expert to help you with the strategy, or do it yourself.

In short, there’s no one right answer here. Content is an investment in your business—just like anything else, from graphic design to the computers you work on or the manufacturer you use to produce your widgets. Wherever you fall on the spectrum, you will want to make sure that your investment is aligned with your business goals.

If you’re interested in chatting with me about how partnering with a content creator could free you up to work and play in your zone of genius, I’d love to talk with you.

I know pricing talk can be a little controversial, so if you have thoughts, I’d love to hear them in the comments!

Photo Credit: Giovanni ‘jjjohn’ Orlando via Compfight cc

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52 thoughts on “How Much Should You Pay a Blog Writer?

  1. Great tips! I strongly agree with the “you get what you pay for” concept and believe good writers should be well-compensated.

  2. Lacy this is such a great breakdown. It always make sense to pay for high quality work. If and when I get to the point of outsourcing, you are at the top of my list. I love your writing!

  3. Thanks for the wonderfully calm, considerate, and cogent look at pricing copy. As one of my Chicago mentors put it, “Monday, write down what you think you’re worth. Tuesday — double it.”

  4. Thanks for the article. We are currently looking for someone to do some blog posts for us. We have sort of decided on using Hirewriters.com or textbroker.com. Any experience with those?

    1. Hi Tommy,

      I don’t have any personal experience with either of those, but I assume they follow the same sorts of price guidelines as I outlined above. If you have a very good (or bad) experience, I hope you’ll come back and share!

  5. Thanks for the categorization system. I am a freelance writer, and this helps me put it into terms clients can understand: Do you want the Nordstrom’s quality or the Jc Penny version?

  6. Thank you for this blog. I have learned a lot! I didn’t know that there are freelance writer that accomplish tasks with no guarantee of getting paid.  Shame on those companies! I agree when you said that you really get what you pay for. There’s just no one rule in terms of the amount you will pay when outsourcing your content.

  7. Thanks for the sharing.its nice. I can get to know them really well; I shoot for long-term relationships with my clients, and I structure my fees so that I can spend as much time and energy as I need researching and writing—without costing my clients more.

  8. Wow! Learned a lot from this post. I am going to increase my rates as I get more serious about freelance writing this year.

    Thank you for your insight Lacy.

  9. $125 is still quite low! Professional copywriters I know are all charging $250 – $500 word for blog writing.

    1. Well, $500 per word is certainly something to shoot for!!! 😉 Our prices have gone up since I wrote this. A blog post is now $200 with a contract. And much higher if they want one-off services.

  10. his is really helpful information, thanks so much for sharing! I write for television, and am just transitioning now to print. It is quite different, but I am so enjoying the challenge. I had thought recently about looking for other writing jobs, and will try some of the resources you’ve suggested.

  11. This is such awesome information! Thank you! I’ve been freelancing for several years – both blog posts and social media posts. I do the freelance for a marketing firm that has a lot of clients and is growing rapidly. I never know what to charge for my services. When I first started freelancing, I charged $50/hr Cdn. Is this too low do you think? I also have a full time job as a marketer doing the same thing and do get a great salary. Now that my freelance work has increased and I have many years in the industry, I feel like I should give myself a raise. Any thoughts would be appreciated. Thanks!

    1. I would! Some of the best advice I ever got about raising my prices was to raise them by small increments every time I got a new client. Give it a try!

    1. Sure — our prices have gone up a little bit since this was written. Blogs written by my team average around $150 now. But I think in general these prices still stand.

  12. Hi Lacy,
    In your article, you mentioned clients who keep you on retainer. You stated the per-article cost margin on those blogs, however, you didn’t mention the retainer fee. Would you kindly elaborate on how you structure that?
    Thank you
    Deanne

  13. Hi Lacy,

    Thanks so much for advocating for fair rates for professional writers! I’m considering increasing my blogging rate for new clients to 50 cents per word (up from 40 cents per word). that would make a 500-word post $250. Is 50 cents per word reasonable or unreasonable in your view for a well-researched article written by a writer with a decade of experience?

    Thanks!

    1. I think it’s totally reasonable. However, you’re going to have trouble raising it much from there, I think. So you might want to think about how to scale or package your services differently.

  14. I’m a blogger, and my rates fall into the $250 mark for a 600 to 1,000 word article. I’ve been writing for a long time and I make sure the artivles are well written and do the job.

  15. Thanks Lacy

    This was very well written and informative, just the information I was looking for.

    Is the cursive font in this comment box for entertainment or irritation? I think you should ditch this.

    I just want to thank you for being professional and concise in your post. I think my grandson (7yo)created the first 6 sites in the google search results.
    Randy(wannabe writer)
    ps, the box below would not accept my email address correctly (@ sign invisible)… site problem?

  16. The article really made sense, most of the technical writers are struggling with the less amount of money paid for their work, content is king in every article, but some of them are underestimating the work, I experienced the same thing at my beginning stage, but now I started my own blog and making money, keep doing this great work keep sharing with us.

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