Content marketing is serious business. Over 90% of marketers are currently using custom content to generate leads, and sales, according to research by the Content Marketing Institute.
25% of the average marketing budget is dedicated to custom content. But how much should quality content cost? The short answer is, enough to get the quality you need to reach your goals. The long answer is much more complex.
Despite the fact that 54% of marketers will be increasing their content budget in 2013, 52% believe they lack the budget to perform their job adequately. Ted Karczewski of Brafton has highlighted the fact that by all standard success measures, low-quality content won’t get your business anywhere.
It won’t help you rank high on Google, convert leads, or gain a bigger share of voice on social media. You’re far better off investing in 1 piece of content that engages your buyer personas than 6 pieces which fail to answer their real-life questions.
How Much Do Content Creators Cost?
Content marketing requires human effort, energy, and talent. There have been no technological advances to date which can emulate an experienced writer’s ability to engage readers through storytelling. Because the process of creating content is so human-driven, there’s no standardized industry measure to determine fair costs for content.
While most freelance writing rates are based on words written, not hours put in to a given project, the most-reliable data sources are on copywriters salary. In the aftermath of Google’s latest algorithm updates, it’s clear that quality content is the only way to win the arms war. While some digital influencers like Seth Godin can frequently write articles that are less than 200 words, it’s critical to remember that thhe’ve earned the right to be heard.
The US Bureau of Labor & Statistics (BLS) states the average copywriter salary is $55,420 per year, or $26.64 hourly. Although, what they actually take home depends on their withholding allowances, but it is easy to find a w-4 calculator online so determining that isn't that difficult. Eloqua reports that mid-sized companies should expect to spend around $150 per piece of content from freelancers. While an individual’s speed can vary significantly according to their subject matter expertise and experience, Osmosio has written that quality content can take between 4-6 hours. Assuming your company is using content between 1000 words per blog article as a simple unit of measurement, your average cost per word will be $0.13 using BLS data, and $0.15 by Eloqua’s estimates.
These measurements aren’t absolutes, but rather limited snapshots of costs in an industry that’s rapidly growing and changing. Lower-cost content isn’t always indicative of low-quality, and many highly-talented copywriters are willing to charge lower freelance writing rates if they’re highly familiar with the topic. There are sources that offer content at mere pennies per word, but low-quality content could end up costing your company less than you receive in return.
Factors Which Can - and Should - Affect the Cost of Your Content
Keep in mind that what constitutes quality and value in one industry isn’t sufficient in another. Not only does your copywriting need to be unique, it should be tailored to the expertise and sophistication levels of your buyer personas. The more research, statistics, and facts necessary to impress your prospects, the more you should expect to pay for content. Here are some factors that can drive a fair cost-per-word for your needs:
1. Are Graphics Needed?
Highly-complex topics are sometimes best illustrated with the help of charts and graphs. Even if you’re not in a technical field, it’s important to remember that 40% of the population processes images better than text. If you’re asking a freelancer to source or create images, it can affect pricing.
2. How Much Research Is Required?
While subject-matter experts will charge more on average, they’ll also result in more-authoritative content. Regardless of how technical your field is, it’s essential to hire copywriting services that can produce accurate and up-to-date information.
3. How Fast Do I Need It?
If you need your content quickly, it’s reasonable to assume that your costs will rise.
While content marketing is a relatively new field, the increasing need for high-quality content has lead to an increase in outsourcing. Mashable reports that 62% of companies are currently using freelance copywriting services. Investing in quality will position your company as a thought-leader, and allow you to soar to the top of Google.
How do you determine fair rates for freelance copywriting services? Please share your ideas in the comments below.