November 25, 2014

What Should You Expect to Pay for a Content Writing Service?

What does a content writing service cost? How much should you pay for a blog post? For small business owners, every penny counts. But, if you’ve done any research on writing services, you’ve probably noticed that prices are all over the map.

Let’s look at five types of content writing services, the costs, pros and cons, and more.

The ‘Walmarts’ of Copywriting

I’ll begin with this category of copywriting services because they’re probably the most popular. And, they’re popular for a reason. I’m referring to sites like Writer Access, Text Broker, and Ecopywriters. These sites crank out millions of words at very reasonable rates. They’re reliable and affordable.

Cost: Cheap! Textbroker will sell a 300-word “average” ranked piece for $5.10. That will be about $15 at Writer Access, and $15-$30 at Ecopywriters.

Pros: You can get some great deals. Plus, you can be confident that you wont be scammed. These sites have been vetted time and time again.

Cons: Even if writers are “guaranteed” to be native English speakers, you can never know for sure. I’m so careful about who I hire, but even I’ve been tricked by W-9 forms from overseas writers. Also, you’re probably not going to get anything great – even if it is a bargain.

Remember, this is the ‘Walmart’ class of services: affordable, basic, no flair.

Independent Freelancers

I can only make general claims about a group this big. Freelancers can be very hit or miss. But, with sites like Guru.com available as resources, you can play things pretty safe and hire a well-established, highly rated freelancer.

Cost: Again, cost can be all over the map. Writers may charge by the word, project, or hours.  Always get an estimate before you begin. You might pay anywhere from 2 cents to 30 cents per word, which would make a 300-word blog post $6-$90. Or more.

Pros: Talk about personalized service. When you work with a freelancer, there are no go-betweens. You get exactly what you want and develop a relationship with another person – not a faceless ‘Walmart’ copywriting service.

Cons: Freelancers don’t always have editors. Also, they go through “feast or famine” stages (I know because I used to be one). And, when they’re swamped with work, you might have to wait.

Oversea Services

I’ve yet to find a good reason for using these services. These services are largely based in India and southeast Asia. You see them advertised all the time by AdWords or on less reputable business sites.

Cost: Dirt cheap. Blog posts come at $5-$10 or less. They look like it, too.

Pros: You pay next to nothing.

Cons: You get next to nothing. Also, frustrating communication, time zone difficulties, international transaction fees, and fly-by-night business strategies plague these services with issues.

*I will point out that there are plenty of fluent English speaking writers overseas. The issue is finding them among the sea of options.

Marketing Agencies

If you’re already using a marketing agency, you might want to see if they can provide you with copywriting services, too. Most marketing agencies do. You’ve already gone through all of the getting-to-know-you work. Why do that all over again?

Cost: High. Marketing agencies usually charge top dollar for their content. Also, your marketing agency might be outsourcing your content to a boutique writing service (covered next), which means you pay a high price plus markup.

Pros: Typically very high quality. Your content gets rolled in with your regular bill. No need for a new account.

Cons: High pricing is definitely a drawback. Also, you don’t know exactly who is writing your content (the marketing agency could be outsourcing it).

Boutique Writing Services

These writing services usually have about 7-20 writers, each with their own niches, and crank out 25-30 thousand words per day. Add a couple of editors, an SEO guru, and someone to run it all, and you’re in business.  These companies are great to work for if you need top-quality content.  (Disclosure: I operate this type of business.)

Cost: Again, cost ranges, but is generally in the middle to high range.

Pros: You get one-on-one attention, and fast turn-around. Also, you get to work with one writer for all of your needs. Expect competitive pricing and freebies.

Cons: Boutique writing services don’t necessarily have the most knowledge about your industry (compared to you, that is), but they are great researchers.

What kind of writing service do you use or are you still writing your own content?

Writer Photo via Shutterstock

14 Comments ▼

Amie Marse


Amie Marse Amie Marse is the founder of Content Equals Money, a small content generation firm based in Lexington, KY. She’s been a passionate freelance writer turned business owner for over 7 years. Her philosophy is that the essentials of content marketing do not change from the small business to the Fortune 500 level, and that creativity trumps budget every time.

14 Reactions

  1. Usually this is a “get what you pay for” area of marketing. Obviously there are writers that provide a better value, but each business needs to decide how much the content is worth and find a solution that matches.

    • Totally right :)

      So many people are looking at their budget and finding a writer to fit that instead of looking at what they need to fulfill their goals. Great content does more than just put something on your pages.

      And, just like anything else, if you have the patience you can find a super low cost option that fits your quality standards. It’s just like when you are shopping for a car. If you okay paying sticker price so that you know you are getting what you want and you don’t have to deal with the headaches of a lemon, go for it. On the other hand if budget is a huge concern, prepare yourself to deal with some terrible writers before you find your gem.

  2. “You see them advertised all the time by AdWords” You do understand how adwords works right? We don’t see them advertised on adwords… ever. because we aren’t looking up content writing services. adwords ads are based on your previous searches. YOU see it all the time because your searches reflect someone who has an interest in content marketing. The majority of the adwords ads I see are about photography (and the Nexus 7… but I do think everyone gets those)

  3. Hi Anne. I like the way you laid this out. I’m wondering why you didn’t give a price range for the marketing agencies and the boutiques? We consider ourselves a boutique, but we source our content by pulling it out of the mouths of our clients. After all, they are the experts. Our cost starts at $395/month and gets clients weekly blog posts. How does that compare to agencies and other boutiques, in your experience?

    • Aimie…I owe you an apology for getting your name wrong in my comment. The font in the byline is pretty small and my eyes ran it all together and jumped to a wrong conclusion. The font in the comments is much larger. Sorry for that.

    • Hey Dave :)

      Since marketing agencies and boutique services often have other services or other contributing factors the variables were too much to quantify in this post :) For example your service has people interviewed for their pieces, which as you well know, is super different than most other services.

      BTW, love the concept of your business. There are so many people who love to be heard – I’m not surprised you guys are so successful! Unfortunately, most of our clients simply don’t have the time or desire to set aside time for interviews. We use a voice doc and try to get into as many meetings as possible to get a gist of their brand.

      So again, I didn’t put a price tag on agencies or boutiques since there were too many variables but I would say considering all the tech work ya’ll do that $395/month for 4-5 posts is more than fair :) I’ve definitely seen plenty of people charging a lot more for a lot less :)

  4. Good piece, Amie.

    I personally think that content should be created in house. A lot of businesses will outsource this part of their marketing plan and then they wonder why their content marketing campaign isn’t going as well as they think it should. Well, it’s usually largely due to the quality and originality of the content. A brand should take pride is writing their own unique content because that’s what sets you apart from the rest of the clamor. Get the part right to start with and you’re more than half way there. Thanks for sharing this with our community.

    Ti

    • Great point! It’s absolutely essential these days to make sure your content reflects your company’s voice. I’m amazed by the clients that come to us and ask for content without providing any background info. Truth be told, these are typically people that are brand new to the net. Most of the work we do is with internet marketing or SEO agencies so 90% of the time they’ve already done the background research and we can piggyback on that.

      Obviously I’m biased here about using a writing service. However, I think there is something to be said for people that have the skills to write for the web and keep up on those trends. When companies use in-house writers exclusively, they often miss opportunities for better readability, sources, backlinks, etc. Your point is beyond true, that’s why our company works so hard to be involved as much as possible.

      Trying not to sound like a sales pitch here, but we sit on conference meetings and do a lot of behind the scenes strategy in addition to writing. I think that’s why our clients are getting the best return on their content marketing.

      The bottom line is you need both: someone with the skills to write for the web and someone familiar with your company. Unfortunately most companies lean too far in one end or the other when there are plenty of companies like mine that cover both.

    • Hi Ti, there are advantages and disadvantages to producing content in-house but I side with outsourcing it (disclaimer: my company offers content creation services to I might be a little biased!).

      People who produce their own content are often too close to their business and products to be fully effective. They know too much and it is difficult to create content for the layperson who doesn’t know what the author knows. For example, I have seen many articles that throw acronyms around freely – the writer certainly knows what they’re talking about but the reader might not be as familiar with those terms and thus the content loses its effectiveness.

      Similarly, people often only see things their way, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but an independent source might see things from a different perspective that is more meaningful to the reader.

      [edited by Editor]

  5. I definitely feel like you get what you pay for when it comes to different services.

  6. I feel that the cost to be paid to any content writer should depend on the quality of writing. It would vary for different locations, different subjects and different agencies. They can setup benchmarks to be followed so that there is a certain standardization in the process.

    There is another key factor, which I think is highly important, is the experience of the writer. If the experience is considerably high and good in value, then the expected price to be paid will be higher.

  7. I believe that comment above is true.
    “If the experience is considerably high and good in value, then the expected price to be paid will be higher” +1

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