.Question: How much should I pay a freelance writer?
Answer: As much as they are worth.
I recently saw something online that really p***ed me off – a job ad on a content mill offering to pay $1 for a 500 word article.
That’s 0.002 cents a word. And the work to produce those words would include research, proofreading and probably a few rounds of feedback.
For reference, 500 words fills about a page of standard 12 point type, and an article of that size would take up to an hour for me to complete.
It’s safe to say I skipped over the ad and looked for something better.
Would you work for a dollar an hour? Neither would I
We are lucky to have a stable of excellent regular clients who appreciate our skills and reward them.
But sometimes the work we do has slow periods, so to fill them we accept or seek jobs from online content services.
These have plenty of well paid, challenging and interesting briefs for us to tackle.
But they can also be minefields of poor pay rates, set by businesses that want to cut costs by skimping on the creative side.
The saying is you get what you pay for, and that’s very true with writing.
The difference pay rates make
Regardless of the rate we get paid, our writing is always done to a high standard, well written and researched with no spelling and grammatical errors.
But in the Red Platypus way of doing things, that high standard is the basic level. Building on that base, the differences between pieces of writing done for a few bucks and those done for a good rate are vast.
Examples of good writing
I’d like to share an example of high quality writing I delivered to an architect who wanted a news feature style article for their website.
For confidentiality, I’ve redacted some things:
It takes great creativity to make the complicated simple. With a brief to ‘maximise the views’ on a steep site located on a mountainous ridge in the Noosa hinterland, building designer ___ created a home with understated elegance sure to impress all who appreciate the value and quality of tasteful design.
With soaring views of rainforest and Pacific beaches, ___ seamlessly frames these priceless sights using striking straight lines and a low maintenance palette of carefully selected materials ___ said would age gracefully, allowing the home a sense of timelessness amid a landscape ever changing with the seasons.
Note the word choices and phrasing: striking straight lines, palette, changing with the seasons. There’s use of alliteration – same sounds in consecutive words – ornate imagery and poetic touches to give the writing a kick.
The style is bold and confident, and the sentences are structured to blend multiple factual elements at once, creating a flowing effect that informs while it entertains.
To produce the whole piece I drafted several versions, honing each paragraph, line, and word till it was just right. I then went through at least three feedback rounds with the client before the end product was signed off.
Examples of average content writing
Now, let’s contrast that piece of writing with a piece I knocked out for an online content service for a much lower price. This is what was delivered to a client that wanted an explainer page for their services:
Locks are the standard way most of us secure our properties and possessions.
But if you have multiple locks carrying around a huge ring of keys is inconvenient. To overcome this, a safe and secure way to open all the locks in one go was created – the master key system.
This is where a single key can open a number of locks within a property that have the same kind of locking cylinder.
It flows well, uses plain language and does the job. But I think you’ll agree that it doesn’t really shine.
That’s because to make the lower pay rate worth my time, I wrote it quickly, checked it over a few times and then sent it.
Remember, our high standard is our basic standard. The cheaper copy like this is like a million other web pages, whereas the architecture copy was crafted with much greater care to stand out.
How we work at Red Platypus
If your business’ goal is to rise above the competition, you owe it to yourself to commission high-quality writing.
So when asking “how much should I pay a freelance writer?”, you should really be asking how high you want the quality of the writing to be. Then you need to find a writer with suitable ability and pay them accordingly.
When you engage Red Platypus to write your content, you will be paying much more than a dollar for 500 words.
But it won’t break the bank. And the end result you get will be worth it.
How much should I pay a freelance writer?
Pay them what they are worth. For this, you need to take in experience, past work and qualifications.
After many years of charging by the hour or the word, we’ve ditched that approach completely. We now charge by the project, taking into account its complexity, the style and standard needed to make it shine.
We don’t factor in time – good things take time – though we do set limits on feedback. Once we exceed an agreed level, we charge for extra. That’s only fair.
We charge what we’re worth because we are highly skilled professional writers with proven track records. We’ve worked for top tier media outlets and businesses – just check out our portfolio.
If you still want to pay peanuts for written content, there are plenty of online content services that can help.
But you’ll get what you pay for.