If you’re new to writing for the web then you’re probably asking yourself what you should be charging for your services.

There are a few different ways to consider payment for writing services and each one has it’s own benefits and downfalls.

Remember that businesses are always keeping an eye on their spend and their ROI (Return on Investment). If you’re creating content that is making more money than they’re spending then you’re an asset. If you’re doing the opposite then you’re detracting.

Always. Be. An. Asset.

If you can maintain that working relationship with your clients then you’ll find success.

Pay Per Word

Charging by the word is probably one of the most common rate structures for freelance writing.

This is literally setting a monetary value to each word you produce in the content you’ll eventually hand over.

Although it may seem silly to charge by the word it’s a good strategy to value the quality of your writing.

I like to think of it as working backward from a fixed rate you’re comfortable with.

For example

Say you’re writing a 2,000 word article. You estimate it’ll take you 4 hours to complete.

In an ideal world you’d get paid $50/hr which would mean you’d charge $200 for that article.

If you divide that $200 by 2,000 words you’re left with $.10/word.

If you’re comfortable with $30/hr then that would change your rate.

$30 x 4 hours = $120. $120/2,000 words = $.06/word.

Variations

You’ll also see content hired at rates like $35/500 words. This just makes it a little easier to calculate final payment. It also adds a little bit of uncertainty though because often you don’t land directly on the exact word count. When that happens do you round up or down? If you come up short is it going to cause problems? Depending on the person who hired out the content you could run into less than ideal situations when you don’t clearly outline what happens in those situations.

Why it’s good

Pay per word is a good way to charge for writing because it’s a precise way to get properly compensated for your time and effort. There’s no rounding like you’d find in pay per hour and no ambiguity like you’d find in pay per article or pay per job.

The client sets the expectations for word count and you get as close as you can with your writing. It allows you to have confidence in your accounting and creates less stress than other methods that are more open ended.

Why it’s bad

Sometimes with pay per word the goal becomes to write as many words as possible or just get to the word count that’s been established for the piece without focusing on quality. For some writers this can create bad habits of being purposefully wordy which in turn can create unclear and confusing content.

Pay Per Article

Charging per article is something a lot of website owners are comfortable with because it keeps their budget consistent and predictable.

In pay per article situations it’s usually more of a submission process that writer’s go through than a direct hire contract.

That is to say that writers produce their best work and submit it for publication consideration at an established fee. If it’s consistent with the rules and quality guidelines of the website it will be accepted and payment will be given.

For example

A content heavy website accepts submissions for “Top 10” articles and offers payment of $150 for each article that is accepted. You get paid if they accept. You don’t get paid if they don’t.

Why it’s good

Getting paid per article is good because it forces you to concentrate on quality as opposed to quantity.

You’re required to produce your best content so that you have the best chance of getting published and getting paid.

Why it’s bad

There is uncertainty in this price structure because your article could potentially not be accepted. You may be forced to make additional edits (more time commitment) to get it up to quality or scrapping it altogether.

Although this is bad in terms of getting paid it also encourages you to be a better writer. You also have the potential of selling that article at a better price to a different website by actively seeking online publication.

Also, it’s good to keep in mind that not all businesses are very honest in their approach. The business could take your article and pay someone to dissect and rewrite it for a fraction of the price they were going to pay you. They could also glean the information and basically get free knowledge about a subject that you spent a lot of time researching or had inside knowledge about.

Pay Per Job

Pay per job or pay per contract is essentially getting paid a lump sum for a set number of articles.

For example

An e-commerce website has 50 products that need unique descriptions. Instead of being paid per product you’ll be offered a set amount for completing all of them regardless of how long it takes you.

You can look at this as a higher level view of pay per article in the sense that you can divide the lump sum by the number of items required to complete the project.

So if the e-commerce site pays $100 for 50 product descriptions then you’re getting paid $2/product.

You’ll definitely want to consider whether you’d take a single item at that price before accepting the entire job at the same rate.

Why it’s good

Pay per job is good for having consistent work and not having to worry about hustling to get a lot of different projects to pay the bills. If you accept a contract for $1,500 then you know at the end of it you’ll make that money. You can focus on that single project without as much stress thinking about where your next one is at.

Pay Per Job could also be considered a salaried position at a company where you’re getting paid the same day in and day out to crank out content. If it’s in a niche that you love then this is potentially the best way to get paid to write. If it’s not then you’ll hate it before long.

Why it’s bad

Typically pay per contract jobs are designed so that you’re offering your services at a discount. Sort of like bulk pricing at Costco. You’re sacrificing some monetary gain for piece of mind and security.

Pay Per Hour

Getting paid to write by the hour is an ideal circumstance for writers from a monetary perspective.

This structure takes all the pressure off word count and pays you to show up and write.

It’s less common because the content manager, or person who hired you to write, has little control or ability to monitor your actual time commitment. Maybe you only wrote for 40 minutes out of the hour. They’d never know.

If you’re pumping out crap work then you can bet you’ll be fired quickly. If your content is top notch then you’ll likely be in the clear until the budget runs out.

Why it’s good

Getting paid by the hour is great because if you put in the time you’re guaranteed to get paid.

Why it’s bad

There are often hidden expectations and trepidation that goes along with this structure on both sides. This can cause undue angst and trust issues from the writer and publisher.

Writers know that it’s pretty impossible to write for an hour straight without taking a break or researching something. They’re human. But in this pay structure it’s expected that every second of that hour is dedicated to the job. This can cause suspicion from the content manager and stress on the writers part.

Make sure that you work out all of these issues before you accept pay per hour jobs so that you’re both on the same page. After all communication is your strong suit. Right?

What did I miss?

Have you encountered other unique payment structures? Hit me up in the comments.

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Tim Seidler

See how Tim wrote some stuff up there? You should do that too. Tim's mission is to take average people, force them to write about stuff they know, and then help make them successful beyond their wildest dreams. Easy peasy.

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