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How Much Pay For Web Writing? How Long Is A Piece Of String?

String for Freelance WritersI got a call the other day from a freelance writer friend of mine.

“Anne,” she asked, “what’s a fair price for writing on the web?”

I’m sure my sigh was loud and frustrating sounding. Without much grace I responded, “how long is a piece of string?”

Back in my real estate days the definition of fair market value was simply the price arrived at by a willing seller and a willing buyer.

That definition also works for freelance writing, on the web or off. We all know there are buyers out there who will buy as many articles as you’re willing to write for a buck or two each. What isn’t as obvious is that there are writers getting $75, $100, $500 and even $1,000 or more for every article they write.

Sure, the higher paying articles tend to be longer than the cheap ones. Typical SEO articles run 400-500 words.

But if a joke you submit to Reader’s Digest gets published you’ll get $100. Google magazines paying $1 a word and you’ll find an amazing amount of information – some of it quite current. Or join the 5 Buck Forum where Lori posts markets that pay a dollar a word or more almost every week.


Then there’s the phenomenon of the 6 and 7 figure bloggers – not many, but it keeps happening. What’s an article worth on one of those sites? You do the math.

The point, of course, is that it’s impossible to answer a question that is as open ended as “how much is a web article worth?” It depends on the context, the purpose of the article, and who is writing it. It depends on what the writer is willing to charge for writing the article and what the employer or publisher is willing to pay for it.

Sure, there are some general norms, maybe. With the internet you can hire writers from non-English speaking countries for what most Americans consider pennies. You can also work to find writers whose work you love and pay them accordingly. There really aren’t any rules.
As a writer you get to set your rate; if you’re hiring writers you too get to choose how much you’ll pay.

How would you answer the question “how much is web writing worth?”

[askanne]

[sig]

{ 16 comments… add one }
  • I’m STOOPID. I left a UN job to pursue my writing ambitions, and 5 years later, I am literally dying inside and out. I consider myself an author (I write fiction under the name of Ciggie Cramond -ciggie.cramond@gmail.com-, and am also working on a couple of Film/TV scripts) but I happen to be a pretty good article writer, which is why I recently landed my FIRST regular gig… with someone that’s paying me $1 for 500 words -on AVERAGE. I’ve taken it, because it’s money in my pocket, and, wisely or unwisely, when it comes to anything outside of selling my books, I’m all about the money, and only the money. I KNOW the books will take time to develop any interest in, if any (I have an online ‘publisher’ (www.abook2read.com, but they do not do ANYTHING to help market the product, so I’ve posted them on i-proclaim and Lulu, from which I have received NOTHING, and am currently looking for another PROPER publisher.) I REALIZE that life is more difficult in Africa (I’m in Kenya) than in may other places… but SERIOUSLY. Am I JUST stoopid, or am I also expecting less of myself?

    I just feel like I don’t KNOW what I’m doing, and I honestly need ALL the help I can get, so THANK YOU Anne, and thanks in advance to ANYONE who can help me get properly organized with this because, I’ve been applying for jobs, and there’s been NO takers for a trilingual law graduate… Either God hates me, or the Devil has been given priviledges to take over the job market. Please contact me anyhow and let me know how to untie my writing panties. Kindly also note that I am BROKE, so the when required to invest, I need the most cost-effective solutions to beg and borrow for!

    Oh and, if you DO like any of my books, please order one!!!

    https://sites.google.com/site/ciggiecramond
    http://www.scribophile.com/authors/ciggie-cramond/
    http://www.i-proclaimbookstore.com/ties.html
    http://www.i-proclaimbookstore.com/clinks.html
    http://www.i-proclaimbookstore.com/friday @ the wharf.html
    http://www.i-proclaimbookstore.com/a cupful at christmas.html
    http://www.abook2read.com/authors/ciggie-cramond.html
    http://www.ciggie.blogspot.com

    • Anne

      I don’t really know quite what to make of this comment. I followed most of the links and couldn’t figure out what book Kui is selling. I almost took all but the blog link out then decided to leave them as is…

  • Well, having no website for the moment (although actively working on this) and being relatively new in the online world, I can’t speak of landing many serious clients – but, oh, I’ve visited some ‘dirty’ places, and now I can understand what certain horror stories told by writers really mean… Tales to tell my (future) grandchildren…

  • Hi Anne,

    I have recently started rejecting offers from people who want me to write a website post, which requires research, for $25, or offers to write an entire website for $225. This leaves me with fewer low-paying assignments but more time to pursue higher paying clients. So what you charge depends on how much you are willing to accept. Also figuring out how many hours the job will take and multiplying it by your bottom hourly rate will give you a clue as to what to charge. When I agreed to write a website for $225, I admit I didn’t realize how many pages the client wanted, and then when I got into it, I was overwhelmed by the research required for each subtopic he wanted.

    Could you repost the link to the 5BuckForum? It’s not connecting from the link you posted.

    Thanks,
    Sherrie

    • Anne

      http//aboutwritingsquared.com should take you to info about signing up for and, when you’re already a member, signing in.

      Yes,, defining the project, like 500 words per web page or some such makes all the difference.

  • Thanks for trying to answer this frustrating question. When I first started writing for the web, I was accepting $1, $2, and $3 per 500 word article. I quickly realized I’d never be able to produce enough to make any real money at those rates. So I cultivated clients who were willing to pay $25 even $50 per article, which seemed like a big improvement, but still I couldn’t write fast enough to make a decent return. When I raised my rates again, to about $100 per page, and started focusing on copywriting I still found, that it wasn’t enough to make a living on. Now I’m looking to find clients who are willing and able to pay several hundred dollars a page for SEO copywriting because I know my time and talent is worth it.

    To newbie writers: Don’t underestimate yourself, if clients aren’t willing to pay what you’re worth, don’t lower your rates, look for new clients.
    Alexa recently posted..Google tools for small business part IV- AdWords Keyword ToolMy Profile

    • Right on Alexa… growing your rates as you describe is right on!

  • It’s an imprecise formula, but when in doubt I’d say:

    * Start by multiplying the time the job will take by the minimum hourly fee you’ll work for.

    * Add between 0 and 100% to reflect the value the job brings the client (eg, advertising or sales copy should be priced higher than something for a non-profit group’s newsletter)

    * Add between 0 and 50% to reflect how much hassle the job is likely to be, and whether it’s likely to be particularly boring.

    If the result is a price that’s too high for the client, try not to worry because in that case it probably wasn’t a suitable job for you.

  • Articles and blogs are only one form of web writing. There’s another way to cut that string. If you’re writing landing page copy designed to stimulate a sale, and you’re good at it, you can earn literally thousands for one assignment. Ditto a multi-page corporate site. For online catalog copy, you could easily charge $50 for a single product description. Generally speaking, writing copy to sell comes with a higher price tag than editorial copy. I’m like Willie Sutton, and go where the money is – I seldom write articles anymore, unless it’s in the context of a larger client relationship that is primarily marketing copy.

    • You’re absolutely right Eileen… I forget about copywriting… one of those things I can do semi-well and don’t like much.

  • It’s a good thing you never through out that string, Anne. 🙂

    What’s a fair price? Whatever you can get away with – LOL! 😀 More proof that you need to value yourself.
    Cathy Miller recently posted..Twisted Sister Statistics for HeadlinesMy Profile

    • OMG-through out instead of threw out-I just significantly decreased my value …Groan… Too funny! That’s what happens when thinking about something else while writing.
      Cathy Miller recently posted..Twisted Sister Statistics for HeadlinesMy Profile

    • Some real truth here actually – not the whole picture as you recognized in the next comment, but…

  • I love your answer to this, Anne.

    I know writers for top blogs who write “free” articles that link to a training they’re doing, and they sell $30,000 of that training off that one article. So really, it’s an article that’s worth $30,000.

    I’ve written $2,000 articles for the Web, and $100 ones, too. The Web is becoming a pretty sophisticated place, and fully reported stories are playing an increasing role. So the opportunities to earn more are increasing, for people who seek those kind of assignments, and want to get beyond the world of content you research for an hour and then spit out quickly into a blog platform or wherever.

    You’re right in that there are so many variables — how complicated is the subject? How many writers understand it? How big is the company? What are they accustomed to paying? You could go on and on.

    I recently tried to replace myself in one of my writing niches for one client I don’t have time for now, putting the word out on all my networks, and I couldn’t find a single person qualified. No surprise many of the stories I write for this client pay $800. The pay is what the market will bear.

    But I like your string answer best — really sums it up.
    Carol Tice recently posted..What Freelance Writers Can Learn from Sarah PalinMy Profile

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