When it comes to the world of freelancing, anyone in charge of a project’s budget will certainly struggle with the variable pricing that plagues every type of freelance talent. Writing services are no exception, and I can personally attest to the incredible inconsistency amongst the individuals and agencies offering writing services.
Some promise content for literal pennies per word while others charge upwards of hundreds of dollars for a single article. Outsourcing is supposed to make your life simpler and it’s a given that these wild variances are enough to drive anyone crazy. Trust me, I’ve been on the other end trying to hire freelancers myself, and I know it can be difficult to discern what makes one service worth this much and another worth that much.
If you find yourself in a similar situation as you look to hire a ghostwriter, let me help simplify the decision-making process for you by at least offering some “average” price ranges for you to compare things to.
If you try to figure out how much the average ghostwriter costs with a quick Google Search, you’ll yield many different answers depending on the phrasing you choose.
Most of the time, any search involving the term “ghostwriter” will yield results talking about a specific type of ghostwriter: celebrity ghostwriters. These are the ghostwriters who create the books, speeches, and autobiographies that public figures publish and these ghostwriters make a lot more than the “freelance ghostwriter” most businesses and website owners are looking for.
If you use the term “freelance writer” instead, which helps exclude “celebrity ghostwriter” figures, you’ll begin to see slightly more realistic estimations of how much a freelance writer really charges.
ClearVoice shares a much more reasonable figure of $0.10/word to $1.00/word, but it’s still on the high-end in my opinion. While I earn $0.10/word and upwards on platforms like Scripted, I only charge half that through my website. That’s because how much a ghostwriter charges depends somewhat on their experience, but mostly on the type of clients they’re working with.
I have detailed the type of clientele Scripted attracts in previous posts. Like most agencies, they market their services to large companies and enterprises who can afford higher fees. This is pretty well proven by the fact that their managed “Cruise Control” membership starts at $999/month (and that’s excluding the cost of content itself).
Now, if you have the budget and you want a fully-managed service, I would definitely recommend an agency like Scripted. If you have a smaller budget, you might consider an alternative like ContentFly or CopyPress. The main appeal of working with such an agency is that they have a pool of qualified writers, meaning you’ll spend less time searching for freelancers on your own. It also means you can fulfill a large project load without managing multiple freelancers yourself.
But, what about individual website owners, marketers, and smaller businesses that don’t have the budget or desire to work with a large agency? That’s where freelance writers like myself come in. While I work on all of the aforementioned platforms, I still enjoy the added flexibility of building direct relationships with clients and getting to know their brand.
If you’re hiring a freelancer directly, good ones start at $0.03/word . Once a writer has some experience under their belt, they almost always bump up to $0.05/word, which I think is a fair price point for most projects. With that said, if your topic is highly technical and/or you have lots of requirements regarding research, sourcing, phrasing, and so on, you’ll have to pay more to account for the extra time your writer will spend accommodating those requests.
To help make up for the extra time in-depth research, image sourcing, and special references take, most writers (including myself) charge extra for these services. Sometimes it adds onto the per-word cost to scale with your project while others charge a flat fee.
Are You Over Paying?
In general, the cheapest content comes from “content mills,” which may promise content for $0.01/word (or even less). These content mills usually hire writers from outside of North America, which typically means your content will be produced by a non-native speaker. In some cases, content mills even deliver “spun” content, which is a whole other issue.
Slightly higher paying content mills (in the $0.02/word to $0.03/word range) might get some native English speakers, but these writers will generally be brand new to the writing industry because I know from experience that no one is willing to write at those rates for very long.
If your project is fairly straightforward–meaning the topic has plenty of information readily available and you’re not asking for any fancy format or style–you should be able to expect very high quality content at around $0.04/word to $0.05/word.
At these rates, you should expect content that is 99% free of grammatical and factual errors. The piece should also contain little to no fluff (although this is subjective and varies with the writing style and topic). I think the first article you hire someone to write will almost always need some minor revising, and perhaps all of them will if you have varying requirements, but most writers are happy to complete minor revisions as long as you provide proper guidance from the get-go.
So, how do you know if you are over paying (or perhaps under paying) a content writer? At the end of the day, each individual assigns a different level of value to the services they pay for. Here’s my opinion to close this post:
You might be over paying if…
- You’re paying more than $0.06/word for basic articles and blog posts that do not have extensive style and/or research requirements.
- Your content writer is continuously delivering poor quality work that has factual errors or assumptions when accurate information is readily available online.
- Your content writer is continuously ignoring your style guide and other requirements you have provided to them (for any reason other than you did not pay for enough words to cover everything you wanted included).
It’s worth noting that the latter two reasons above don’t necessarily mean that you’re paying too much per word, but it could mean you’re paying the wrong writer.
You might be under paying if…
- You’re paying less than $0.03/word for grammatically accurate content on any topic.
- Your content writer has to spend more than 15-20 minutes researching in order to write a 500-word blog post (in this case, you should be paying extra to accommodate for the extensive research they must be doing for your topic).
- Your content writer is expected to incorporate references, images, quotes, more than a few keywords, and/or other special elements into your content and you’re not paying extra for these services.
These are just general guidelines that might help you in determining whether or not you’re paying your writer a fair rate. Of course, at the end of the day, it’s up to a writer to decide if they are charging the right amount for their services.
It’s up to you to find a writer who charges a “reasonable” amount and delivers the quality of work you expect. It may take some time to locate such a writer, especially if you’re working on a tighter budget, but I know there are many out there ready to help. Consider reading my article on How To Make Your Writing Budget Go Further.