Article writing is the gateway to the freelance writing industry. An ‘article’ is the first content type created by a new freelance writer. Even after years in the freelancing industry, article writing remains the top contender as the prime source to fill the money coffers.
Since there are no standard parameters to define the monetary compensation for each piece of writing – articles, blogs, press releases, newsletters, eBooks – freelancers charge what they feel justifies their experiences. While some are happy charging $3/article, others charge $50/article.
Why this variance?
The purpose of this guide is to help you, no matter whether you’re a new or an experienced freelance writer, determine the cost of article writing.
Therefore, the next time you approach a client, avoid underselling article writing services. Depending on project details and the given below factors, charge per word or per article rate.
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5 Essential Factors to Determine the Cost of Article Writing
The cost of article writing should depend on 5 factors:
1) Research Time
Between writing and researching, the second is the most time consuming factor. Depending on the topic, you spend hours and days researching to digest the information and prepare a structure to frame all the information.
- Billable – YES!
Time spent to research isn’t free.
2) Niche Experience
Niche expertise matters. Being a ‘Jack of all trades’ work in the freelance writing industry but look around, niche specialists are in high demand. To name a few, Kristi Hines is an expert social media writer while Jon Morrow writes extensively on freelance writing and writing skills development. They are known for their specialty.
- Billable – YES!
You’ve spent years gaining niche writing experience. Surely, you want a better compensation.
3) Invested Time
Researching a niche is just a single factor to determine the cost of article writing. Writing quality content which resonates with the readers is time consuming.
From researching to writing to making the content presentable, a high quality piece takes 10-12 hours from the beginning to its finish.
- Billable – YES!
Every minute of yours count.
4) On-Page SEO
Article writing is no more about stringing few words or stuffing it with keywords. The strategy is long passé when marketers used to commission bulk articles just to build links.
These days, the job of an article writer extends beyond writing; a good knowledge of on-page SEO factors is necessary. Here’s the best on-page SEO resource every article writer should read, bookmark, apply and impress clients.
- Billable – YES!
If you’re good at something, don’t do it for free. Add this to your article writing costs.
5) Content Marketing
Does your association with the client end with emailing articles? If yes, don’t read this section.
My experience tells that content buyers are looking for an impact. The reason you see prominent bloggers writing for business blogs and websites is because businesses want to channelize the power of the authority blogger.
In other words, the content buyer wants you to promote the article as well.
- Billable – DEPENDS!
It depends on whether the content buyer wants you to promote or not. If yes, it’s certainly billable. Content promotion takes a hell lot of time.
Here’s an excellent Infographic that highlights the creative writing process.
Credit: Deborah Tan
The Complete Package
Essentially, you’re giving the buyer a complete package, which comprises of:
- Quality content
- Social media visibility
- Reader interaction (comments!)
Independently, each of these services costs a lot more. Here, you’re offering all the benefits for a lot less. Isn’t it?
The content buyer wishes to maximize on your online presence, which took you months and years to build.
It’s certainly billable.
Two Disadvantages of Freelance Writers
The cost of article writing depends on these two disadvantages too. No matter how well read, experienced and knowledgeable you’re, if you belong from a developing country, expect a lot of negotiation and a desire to buy ‘cheap’ services.
6) Geographical Location
An irrefutable fact indeed!
Article writers from developed countries like USA and UK are paid higher than freelance article writers from developing countries like India and Singapore.
The prevalent attitude is to seek ‘cheap’ services.
Granted, there are buyers who don’t accept this bias but they’re rare as the blue diamond.
7) Native vs. Non-Native Writing
Again, content creators from developed countries are native English writers and those from developing countries are non-native English writers.
If you’re a non-native content developer struggling to find work, read this article where I suggest some ways to bypass stigmas associated with the non-native status and start earning.
What other Content Creators say?
I approached few freelance writers known to me and asked:
How do you determine the cost of article writing?
Here’s what I got.
Well, lots of factors impact the monetary aspects related to the cost of article writing. There was a time when I was new to the world of blogging and wrote articles of 500-600 words for Rs. 60/- as they said this is the market price for a newbie. After spending months in blogging, now I charge depending on the topic. There are topics that need hell lot of research and there are topics that don’t need that much of research.
As a writer, I personally believe that we must provide knowledgeable, well researched and apt content according to the topic for the readers.
The factors that I keep in mind while writing content for monetary purpose are:
- The topic of the content
- The kind of research it needs
- The word count (I don’t really like to hold myself in word limit, so increasing word limit while writing is a common mistake I do).
- The blog/website where my content is going to get published
All these factors help me decide what I should charge for that particular piece of writing.
A piece of advice to my fellow content writers: Please do not write just to earn money. Write sensible, knowledgeable and good content for your readers. Bringing up or bring down the market price of content writing is in our hands, please do not accept assignments that aren’t worth our hard work.
– Payal Bansal, Trends & Health
This is a tricky question and I believe it confuses the newbies more. Logically, the factors that determine your cost of article writing should be your expenses and the amount of money you want to save. Once you calculate that, you know your desired annual or monthly income.
When I configure my writing rates, I first ascertain my annual budget, find the number of days I’d work, the time I can put in on a daily basis, and then derive my hourly rate.
Further, I also assess how much time it should take to complete a particular assignment, and knowing my hourly rate, I can find my per word rate for article writing.
I’ve learned of this formula through my online research and it has really helped me a lot. Of course, being a freelance writer, you need to also take into account the days you’d be without work too!
Once you can figure out your lowest possible hourly or per word rate, you know the lowest cost you can quote for article writing, then you’re in a better position to negotiate with your clients. I hope this helps.
– Harleena Singh, Aha!-Now
It begins with research. The data for the article is important – and I outsource it if required. That adds up in the costs.
Then it comes to writing the actual piece. This is where I hire a native English writer. It’s costly and absolutely worth it.
Then it comes to proof reading. I prefer having a native English proof reader – without which there will always be errors.
The last step is fine tuning. This is a very important step – it is what makes my posts shine.
So, it all adds up to the cost and that is how I determine it.
– Uttoran Sen, GuestCrew
As a professional content development agency, therefore, what we actually do is first understand the kind of influence (wealth of knowledge, philosophy, experience) a particular client has built in their niche or industry and the value that they want us to deliver. Then we’ll evaluate the amount of research and time that will possibly go into completing their project in a bid to match up to their specific requirements. Only then will we quote our price on per page or per project basis.
Project deadlines, when given by clients themselves, may also sometimes factor in when determining the cost.
– Obaidul Haque, 1st Quality Content
Are you being CHEAP Unknowingly?
‘Cheap’ is not good.
Be an affordable writer not a cheap writer – there’s a world of difference between them.
Keep these things in mind.
DON’T offer Bulk Rates:
Believe me. ‘Bulk writing’ is instantly classified as ‘cheap’.
The buyer expects a price reduction for a bulk purchase. The expectations aren’t unfair but think hard before offering bulk rates.
For example, if the job entails writing blog content, uploading and formatting on WordPress CMS and promotion, and your quote is $50/article for 50 articles, it totals to $2500. The client offers $1500, which is $30/article at bulk rate.
Should you take it? NO.
It is a general perception that rewriting doesn’t take equal amount of effort as writing original content. It is true to an extent since there is no research or special keyword optimization involved; the writer needs to rewrite the given text.
However, if you want to build a stable career in the freelance writing industry, steer clear of accepting rewriting assignments.
Apart from less pay, it stunts your growth potential.
Here’s another excellent Infographic.
My Personal Strategy
When I discuss a project with a new client who, let’s say, is looking for complete blog management, I look into:
- the project details;
- the work involved;
- the desired output (very important);
- the project duration (days, years, months);
- the duties and responsibilities;
- the time I can devote;
- the relationship with the client (again important because the rapport between the client and you defines whether the project will be smooth going or not).
Take each project as a different assignment altogether. Every client is different so each project will be different too.
You CANNOT have fixed rates.
You can give an estimate but the best way is to understand the project first and then give a final offer.
Over to You
I hope you’ll be able to make use of all the ranting 😉
How do you decide the cost of article writing? Your comments are welcome.