It depends. The pay range for writers is huge — like Walmart to Tiffany’s huge. Most of the time, that price difference is reflected in quality and scope, starting with writers who churn out generic copy that’s low in engagement but heavy in keywords, all the way up to content strategists who help you devise your plan and then execute it flawlessly. The “right” rate is the one that gets you the quality you’re happy with.

A better question is how writers charge. There are 4 basic payment structures, each with its own pros and cons.

  • Per hour: I don’t recommend this method. It’s hard to track and verify, and it has absolutely no relationship to quality. In fact, the better writers don’t like to work by the hour, because they end up being penalized by their own expertise. Hourly rates are great for slower writers who have to work harder to produce good content. I’m not saying all good writers are fast and all bad writers are slow, but it’s something to keep in mind.
  • Per word: Charging by the word is very common, and rates can range anywhere from pennies per word up to a couple of dollars per word. It’s standard and perfectly acceptable, but it’s not without its drawbacks. [tweet]The best content has as many words as it needs to have, period.[/tweet] It’s not padded to meet a minimum word count or cut short to avoid going over a given price point.
  • Per project: A lot of top-tier writers charge by the project because it leaves room for value-added. Per-project fees take into account things like consulting, strategizing, and research — that intangible “secret sauce” that nobody else could deliver.
  • Retainer: This works just like any other retainer: You pay a monthly fee, and the writer is available when you need him. This is a good option if you know you’re going to need a big volume of content on a regular basis.

As far as the logistics, that’s between you and the writer. Some writers will only accept certain methods of payment, like PayPal or Stripe. And don’t forget that you’ll need to complete a 1099 if you pay a writer $600 or more per year.

So that’s the down-and-dirty scoop on paying freelance content writers. Stay tuned for more…

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