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What's The Fair Rate For A 500+ Words Article?

Discussion in 'Copywriting' started by hnicolassuero, Dec 26, 2013.

  1. #1
    What do you think is the right price for a professional article having about 500 words? Here in DP I've seen different rates ranging from less than $1 up to $6, $7 or even more. Please, I would like to hear your opinion about it.
    SEMrush
     
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    hnicolassuero, Dec 26, 2013 IP
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  2. SCookAAM

    SCookAAM Active Member

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    #2
    It's a bit tough to name an exact figure. It depends on how good you are and how fast you write. However, think of it this way:

    What is an hour of your time worth? $15? $25? Then figure how long it takes to write a 500 word article.

    For example, with research, writing and edits, it may take you 30 minutes, so charge 30 minutes worth of your time. I would venture to say that an article of 500 words should represent a minimum of 30 minutes, even if it takes you 15. After all, you deserve to be paid for experience, knowledge, etc. Just because people with poor writing and even poorer English skills charge a dollar or two, that's no reason to work for nothing.

    personally, I'd never go less than $10 for a 500 word article.
     
    SCookAAM, Dec 26, 2013 IP
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  3. hnicolassuero

    hnicolassuero Well-Known Member

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    #3
    Excellent answer SCookAAM! I consider that you have made a great contribution. Thx!
     
    hnicolassuero, Dec 26, 2013 IP
  4. coreygeer

    coreygeer Notable Member

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    #4
    Here's the problem, it's finding the clients who would pay that fair price.

    If you ask the Warrior Forum, of course every single one of those people earn a "living" off of writing.

    The reality is: Writing Sucks

    1 - The clientele always wants a silver platter for the price of a disposal plate.
    2 - The work is slim because they THINK they're getting quality from Indian/Foreign writers willing to write for 50c per 100 words or less. They're usually disappointed but they never learn their lesson, they always end up going back to those people to be disappointed again and again.
    3 - Client work is never dependable, because even large jobs take forever to come through and a lot of the time, they don't. Whether they shut down their project, whether they don't have the budget they thought they did, etc.
    4 - They always want more... more... more... Here's a recent conversation I had as an example with a client.

    $15 per article, sounds decent for this forum, right? Right...
    Oh, one more thing... can you add relevant pictures within the article?
    Oh, one more thing, can you set it up and format it like a top 5/list style article?
    Oh, another thing, can you make sure to include certain text we assign to you and an anchor into the article naturally.
    Also, please link to references and sources within the article.
    Oh, and add headers into the article too, I want headers.
    Oh, and add it to my site directory for me, don't hand me the docx files, just upload it directly.

    That's how the usual client is, they want everything for nothing. What starts out as a simple writing gig turns into a full time maintenance gig for the price of penny writing.

    Writing isn't worth it and I'm honestly about done with it. I've done it since 2006, I've written thousands of articles and met hundreds upon hundreds of clients. It's like the computer repair business. Everyone expects you to slave over them hand and foot without offering you the compensation to do so and it's no way to make a living (despite what the delusional people at the Warrior Forum) tell you.

    A decent price is something you can live off of. If others do earn a living with writing, good for them but this $5-$20 crap per article with picky/slave driver clients doesn't cut it, it's a horrible field to get into. My advice honestly: Get into infoproduct marketing or programming for yourself. The real money lies in there and it's what I plan on moving to.
     
    coreygeer, Dec 27, 2013 IP
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  5. SCookAAM

    SCookAAM Active Member

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    #5
    Well, sadly, many of CariGear's points are valid. That does represent a large chunk of the clients.

    However, as in all things, the cream does rise to the top. If you go on Odesk or elance, you'll find thousands of the type that Cori just mentioned. However, there are those serious business people who need true quality. And if you can give it to them, they'll gladly pay you.

    But you may have to do some cheapos to get started, get a portfolio under your belt.

    I'll say that article are the worst type of paid writing. As Cori mentioned, they want it all for nothing. However, website content, PR's, sales pages and even bigger projets like writing business plans, white papers, etc do pay much better.

    And I think that eventually, you'll have to create your own website and advertise and SEO it to get real clients. You may even do active sales and marketing by calling on poten tials and direct advertising.

    Writing can be hard but it can be worth it if you are really good and keep at it.

    Cori has voiced the frustrations of many of us, accurately. But most business is like that. you've got to push your vwy through the sea of BS to get to the island of quality. :)
     
    SCookAAM, Dec 28, 2013 IP
  6. pretty10

    pretty10 Member

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    #6
    According to my experience, I would say $5-$10 is the average price for a 500 word article.
     
    pretty10, Dec 28, 2013 IP
  7. Webcenter

    Webcenter Well-Known Member

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    #7
    An expert would never sell his 500 words article for under $15. May look expensive to most of us but just by placing Adsense on that kind of quality article, and of course to be on a nice paying CPC niche, you get your investment in no time.
     
    Webcenter, Dec 28, 2013 IP
  8. Conran

    Conran Active Member

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    #8
    I agree, a 500 word article should be priced at between $15 and $20, depending on the research needed and the time taken.
    If you're paying less than this, you are likely getting poor quality rubbish, potentially even stolen content.

    I worked with one client a couple of years ago who saw their traffic and sales plummet a month after hiring a new writer to add blog posts, they were paying them $2 for a 200-300 word post every day. When I did just a little bit of checking, it turned out that the "writer" was doing nothing more than copying the sales text of two other sites and pasting them in together. So they would grab half of one description, then the second half of another. This hardly made sense to the reader, and was obviously duplicate content.

    I then started working for them for a month to rewrite all those posts at $5 each, and their traffic and sales gradually came back.

    By far the biggest problem in the paid writing business is that buyers don't seem to understand that a piece of text will be on their site, gaining clicks and making money, for as long as they want it there. If it costs you $15 for a 500 word piece, that's a great deal if it's going to earn you $30 in a month! All you need to do is work on promoting your site, gaining followers and sharing links, you just let someone else do the selling.

    People who are seeking writers really need to understand the notion that your blog/site is a novel, made of potentially thousands of pages and posts, all pulling in visitors and all potentially making you money. Paying a little now to get that on your site is going to benefit you for months or years to come. It's not a waste of money to pay $15 now for something that could earn you $100's over the coming year.
     
    Conran, Dec 29, 2013 IP
  9. Conran

    Conran Active Member

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    #9
    I have to disagree with you, it's been providing me with a full-time income for the past three years. I work from home, with shorter hours than I was working, and earning more than I was in full-time employment as a manager for a local company.

    This is part of the business, and a good writer would deliver more than the client expected in order to gain recommendations. When I started, I would promise 500 word blog posts and deliver 600 or 700 words. That gained me a good reputation and people started recommending me to others. You don't have to do that all the time, but once the relationship is there you find a natural rhythm where you can deliver exactly what they want.

    This is nothing! :)
    It takes a matter of seconds to do everything you've listed in that collection of frustrations. Granted, I might charge more if they then want images included (sourcing and formatting can take a little more time), but adding a title should be standard practice, formatting by request is also standard, adding keywords or focusing on a specific collection of words is bottom-line standard practice, linking to references is no skin off my nose, adding it to the site is probably quicker and easier than writing an email and attaching a file every time you're done...

    For the majority of my clients (those who run affiliate blogs) I log in and create everything from scratch for $8, that's title, text (keyword driven), SEO plugin completion, tags, categories, images, affiliate links... I create it from scratch from the sources they provide, and either leave it as a draft for them to publish or publish it myself for them at that time. Where possible I then post their content to a sharing site, Twitter, Facebook or Tumblr to kick off their traffic. When I have the time I tell them what I think they could do to improve their site or blog, give them tips on things I would focus on, find additional content to add so it's not all about selling...

    If they're happy and they see a benefit in sales or site improvement, they're more likely to recommend me to someone else, and they're more likely to want to keep me writing for them. If they are successful, so am I!

    I have numerous clients for which I do this every day, it's fun, interesting, always different and very rewarding when I get an email telling me the post I added yesterday earned them $60 over night.

    These are all things I do as standard for my clients, so I don't understand why these things are considered to be such a problem. They take little time to achieve, and you have a happy customer, one that is likely to come back to you again when they want something else completed.

    Again, I think you're wrong. It seems to me that you are describing "customer service" as "slaving over them". The things you describe are the basic services of a writer, not some additional demands for which you're not earning anything. You factor these things in, and if it becomes too much work for the price they're willing to pay, you part ways politely and move on.

    I don't mean to be rude and pick everything you've said apart, but perhaps the reason you have found this such a disappointing business to be in is because you have no passion for it? Maybe you haven't had the number of clients you need because you turn them away when they ask for a little more?
     
    Conran, Dec 29, 2013 IP
  10. sirjorgeofculver

    sirjorgeofculver Well-Known Member

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    #10
    Fair? Man, I try to get from $1 - $5 on 500 words. People don't want to pay 99% of the time, but as a hustler, I'll write whatever for cheap.
     
    sirjorgeofculver, Dec 29, 2013 IP
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  11. #11
    Frankly, the reason people don't want to pay is because of those who will write for $1 for 500 words. if you don't think enough of your skills to charge a decent wage, nobody else will either.

    I am inundated with requests, from Odesk, I might add, for $15 to $25 per hour work. Or just a flat rate that I quote.

    You have to be good and you have to stick it out. While it's not a bad idea to hustle in the beginning, at any rate, to build a portfolio, there needs to come a point when you do not accept crap. When you can present quality and not accept insulting rates, you'll find work that pays decent.
     
    SCookAAM, Dec 29, 2013 IP
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  12. sirjorgeofculver

    sirjorgeofculver Well-Known Member

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    #12
    Right. The same argument is stated in regards to punk rock. I've seen a lot of my compatriot writers go back to a 9 to 5 job because they refuse to go with "insulting" rates. There's something grand about integrity, but when bills are due and rent needs to get paid, integrity doesn't pay for the bills. I'd rather be a writer than have to get paid minimum wage to write code, which was standard for me for 10 years of working in tech, even with a degree and portfolio to match.

    Then again, there are those that stand on a soap box and decry this as insulting wages, and then there are those that take the Walmart approach. Hate it or love it, the Walmart approach can pay bills. I decided to go that route after my "integrity" stopped paying bills.
     
    sirjorgeofculver, Dec 29, 2013 IP
  13. Annea

    Annea Well-Known Member

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    #13
    I was a full-time freelancer up until Jan. 28th 2012 and I never took jobs that paid less than $25 (for very good, regular repeat bulk order clients) for articles that took approximately an hour or less. My normal fee was $50 per hour.

    However, in the beginning, I took jobs for less ($10), just to show a client what I could do. There's no shame in that but it doesn't pay the bills and you can burnout from having to work so many extra hours.
     
    Annea, Dec 29, 2013 IP
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  14. matt_62

    matt_62 Notable Member

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    #14
    I agree with Scookaam, in that a fair rate, is based on what you can do in an hour, and what you are worth per hour. And what you are worth per hour should be based on skill. For example, if you are a qualified as a doctor, writing in a medical journal or a site that relates to this niche, I think your time and expertise in this skill is worth alot more then someone else, who isnt qualified, and is doing their "research" by reading other cheap articles online and pretty much just doing a human spinner job. I was horrified when I found out that alot of the legal blogs, content and all that are written by people with no skills on the subject that are just punching out words for a low wage. IMO, a doctor or a lawyer writing a proper article should be worth $500 or more vs someone writing the same article (for the same niche) that isnt qualified but just being a human spinner, is worth probly $5.

    I like this quote:
    I agree with this. The low budget people damage the perceived value of the service. So people who would otherwise be happier to pay more, see the budget people, and think that is a normal acceptable wage. It makes it worse, when you see people on DP, hiring writers themselves at 50cents per 100, and selling their writing services in another thread for $1 per 100 words. And this makes buyers even more reluctant to pay more, because the more you pay, the more chance of it being outsourced to someone else at a lower rate.

    TO be honest, I have always hated how its charged "per word", and then why is everything at (or close to) the 500 word mark. It is like, if you need a quality article, do you really need 500 words? maybe 600 is needed for the specific subject? When you have had a few articles written, you kinda see this is unnatural, when compared to natural articles written by say, forum members. A natural (unpaid) article, is the length that it is. The writers have no need to pad it with useless info, (due to trying to reach the 500 mark) nor skipping out important info due to budget limits.

    Noone will agree with me, but when I hire people for graphics work, or coding / development work, i dont pay "per letter" or "per word" or "per mouse click" or anything stupid like that.... I pay per project. And with this attitude, a few times, I have gone to one of my writers (which is about 10cents or whatever per word), and its easier to say what the budget is for the specific project.
    So if I have $50 for an article, (or for some copy to be created), I feel this is a better scenario to simply tell the writer the budget for the project, rather then demanding a specific word count. Just sometimes, for something really well written, you need only a few words to say what needs to be said, and paying per word, is not necessarily going to get you the result you need.

    Regarding the usual comments regarding 'shitty crappy clients' and the like, you have to look at what market you are writing for. For this part of my rant, I am not talking about copy writers. I am talking about the bulk of the writing work that I see around here for sites that are based on articles with income via ads. Seriously, its a dog eat dog world in here. I have had sites, and seen other sites with alot of well written content on it, and it did not rank well in the search engines, so the owner doesnt earn any money. If you are writing for any site that is monetized by the philosophy of:
    - spend everything they have on content being created
    - pray that the search engine gods smile on there site
    - pray that enough people click on ads (but not to many to cause an issue, not too many from bad countries cause you are kinda responsible for the quality of the traffic that clicks on the ads)
    - pray that you actually get paid what you are due from running ads
    then you gonna be in for a rough time writing for these people, and yeah, they are gonna want you to write for nothing because THATS what they are earning.
    For everysite that does make money with this philosophy, there are dozens (if not hundreds) that fail to make enough to pay for a single article. And the ones that do make money, have to re-invest the little they earn into more and more content, just to keep the site "alive" and listed in the search engines. I have seen in the past sites in this forum in the BST section, and you can see the traffic dies off when they stop paying for written content, but if they are not earning enough to fund the new content, and payback the initial investment, and cover all the time they spend on the site themselves, then really what are they doing? The webmaster loses everything they invested, but all the people they hired GOT PAID.

    It is hard to sum up this last comment that I want to say, while it is an important and valid point, it cannot be applied to everyone. But in alot of cases, have you ever thought to look at where does the money come from to hire writers, coders, artists, etc? Its ok if it comes from advertising and all that, I mean, if someone has a website that is earning bucketloads, its fair and reasonable that a bit of that is spent hiring others to propel the site to new heights. But in most cases, the money is from someone spending all there hard earned money into a site, that will never make a real return. And everywhere, I see freelancers upset about earning next to nothing, but YOU earnt money, YOU choose the rates you worked for, and YOU got paid for everyhour that you worked. Can the same be said to the people that hired you?
    But as I said, this comment doesnt apply to everyone.

    DP seems to be a virtual breeding ground for people learning webstuff and starting sites for the first time. And I always see that freelancers consistently EARN MONEY, but the same cannot be said for those that hire them. We are always going to have freelancers upset about the rates they earn, but YOU choose them, and buyers usually have a low budget simply as your target market doesnt have alot of money as they are playing "advertising earning roulette"

    I guess the best answer to this, and everything else is a singular quote:
    [​IMG]
     
    matt_62, Dec 30, 2013 IP
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  15. SCookAAM

    SCookAAM Active Member

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    #15
    Quite right, Annea

    Working for $5 per hour or less will not pay the bills. Even if you work 50 hours a week, you make $250 ? How can you live on that. The whole time being pissed off that your skills are not valued.

    When you weed through the cheapies to find the good clients, you will find that good clients pay good wages.

    No serious business will pay $3 for an article that they need to promote themselves. The good tones know what they get at that rate. If you want a big fish, you use big bait.

    I can site many examples of this, from my own experience. it's not a soap box. But you do have to be willing to turn away low paying jobs. If you build a reputation is a low cost writer, you'll only attract low-paying clients. It's the law of attraction.

    I have never, EVER worked fro some of these awful rates people are asking.

    I hope this doesn't sound harsh, I don't mean it to, it's just that I am a very good writer, and I'm sure everyone posting here is too, and I loath the idea of such talent not being valued.

    If more writers would not accept low wages, they would''t be offered. People know what they get when they try to hire inexpensive foreign writers to write in a language with which they're not very familiar. It's hard for them to capture the sentiments and colloquialisms of American English.

    The reverse is also true. Even if I spoke fluent Russian, I doubt that I'd be a good Russian writer.

    And you know what else? Those good clients, who pay well, will cling to you like grim death once they know you can produce :)
     
    SCookAAM, Dec 30, 2013 IP
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  16. Annea

    Annea Well-Known Member

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    #16
    @matt_62, it's easy to see that you feel strongly about the topic. :) In the offline writing world (magazine, newspapers), payment is done per word, 99.99% (I just used that figure, nothing to base it on except personal experience) of the time. It has been that way, pretty much since the development of the written word and printing press. Has that transferred well to online writing? Sometimes.

    I have been able to come in under budget for clients who did not need as many words as they thought to get their point across, although I did not do a lot of 'pay per word' articles for online. Your suggestion of giving a writer a budget is a good one, unless you are using a writer who is less than reputable. Good ones will give you as much as possible while working to keep to or under your budget.

    Regarding the whole, "poor webmaster didn't make any money, so writers should stop whining," I hope I misunderstood that and I welcome your correction if I misinterpreted. If that is what you meant to say, well geez. It is not the writer's problem unless they provided you with something other than what you requested. They did the work and deserve to be paid fairly for it, however I have to agree with you that they knew going into the project that it was low pay and they accepted that.

    It's a difficult situation when a writer is hungry - they don't earn enough to live yet write to make as much as they can. Results in poverty and burnout unless they have other things to make up the shortfall.

    P.S. Forgot to say that the skill level of a writer is a component to take into consideration, as well. You mentioned that and I agree that it is a factor.
     
    Annea, Dec 30, 2013 IP
  17. Annea

    Annea Well-Known Member

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    #17
    @SCookAAM, I agree with everything you said! And it's true that good clients will grab you and never let you go once you've proven yourself. I had the same base clients for 5 years, with others coming and going, needing only occasional or one/two articles.

    Writers, if you're good - aim for the good clients. If you suck, get better at it. Learn and practice as much as you can to improve the quality of your work.
     
    Annea, Dec 30, 2013 IP
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  18. SCookAAM

    SCookAAM Active Member

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    #18
    Good points, both Matt and Annea.

    As matt said, you have to look at where the funding is coming from. That's why I tend to stay away from article writing. It's probably never going to be lucrative. I trend toward businesses who need content for their websites, sales pages, print material, etc etc. Content that will be used in the pursuit of clients and customers.

    The truth is, if you're writing for ad-based sites that need a bunch of content, I would submit this: Why don't you put up one of these sites yourself and write your own articles? if a $2 article may earn $100 over a year, or $1,000 a month, or whatever, why not just do it yourself? Why do the work for a one-time fee?

    And I liked Matt's comment about the length of an article. However many words are necessary to say a thing the right way are what is needed. it may take 400 or 1,750. it's like asking an artist to paint your portrait in 500 brush strokes. Well, what if it takes 1,000? Do you want him to only use 500?

    I realize that 500 is a bit of a benchmark, but the oint still stands, I think.
     
    SCookAAM, Dec 30, 2013 IP
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  19. matt_62

    matt_62 Notable Member

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    #19
    Back to the idea of cost per project, how do normal people create the copy for things like flyers? I mean for that you need great copy, and especially if the writer is reviewing the products, thats more time, and you gotta pay more for that project. A writer should be able to say its $xx per hour, 1-2 hours to review the product, 1 hour for the draft, 1/2 - 1 hour for final edit? -> but thats my understanding of it.
    just sounds wrong to go through it going 1 word, 2 words, 3 words..... because there is more to great writing then a few words on a piece of paper. Or am i wrong?
    [​IMG]

    But at any rate, the writer I work with when I need articles, or copy done, I love her work, always great and I do trust them. I give them the budget for the project, and I get a great article, and i have never once counted how many words because the word count doesnt matter to me as I am after a well written article not "500 words as thats all i can afford". But before I met them, I must have wasted alot of money on garbage crap content, that has never been good enough to be posted online. Sure, i paid everywriter, but I never used their crap. It might be 10 writers here on DP that I have tried, but out of that 10, there is only one that I will ever re-hire.

    Sounds really bad when you phrase it like that. What I was saying is that if that is your target market, (writing for the poor webmaster who is struggling to make anything at all, and they don't earn enough to live, which results in poverty and burnout), then its a vicious cycle, as they may be unable to pay more to the writer.
    Look I know, everyday there seems to be more people coming online and calling themselves a writer, and it does suck and thats not going to help existing top quality writers to get in touch with quality prospects either. And as I said earlier, when potentially good clients do see the cheap rates, it devalues the work, and its an uphill battle to explain to them they need to pay 5-10times more to get great quality.

    Trust me, I highly support that if someone does a great job, they need to be paid for it. In fact, everyone that works, should by rights be paid for their time and effort. In no way at all was I suggesting that people that work should work for nothing.

    To change the subject ever so slightly, I see so many people here struggling to make ends meet, and I really wish some of these people would team up. Look at the artist that did work for facebook:
    http://gawker.com/5881513/david-cho...nting-facebook-office-with-erotic-art-in-2005

    or hey check out this site.
    http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/2013/11/13/report-facebook-offered-snapchat-3-billion/3517929/
    Seriously, that site is said to make nothing at all (or even a loss), but has a $3billion offer.

    Look at the above examples, I really think if people teamed up and worked together on projects in their spare time, that anything can be made and the long term profits could be huge.

    That is soo true! Its like, if you have spare time, no clients, you can write for yourself, for what you want, and you earn, you earn, and you have nothing to lose, and if you get bored, try to sell it, and you might make something from it.
     
    matt_62, Dec 30, 2013 IP
  20. Annea

    Annea Well-Known Member

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    #20
    So many interesting points to respond to, not sure where to begin.

    I think there are times when charging by the word is appropriate (think magazines/newspapers) and other times when a flat project or hourly rate is the thing to do (i.e. heavily researched articles, print brochures, etc.). I found that often times, a client would indicate which s/he needed to work with. No problem, as long as everyone's needs are met.

    Re writing for ad sites, I did some of that, also websites, offline advertorials, press releases and an absolute TON of app descriptions for posting on iTunes. I managed to make a living do it by setting a price (in my mind) that I would not go below. Your mindset can really help you at times.

    I agree that the word count of an order shouldn't be set in stone. If you try to stretch your copy beyond what is natural and perfect for the topic just to fulfill a higher word count, it always shows. That can hurt a writer's rep.

    Writers putting up their own sites? Fantastic idea, in my opinion. Lots have done it and many have made a good living by building a list and selling their own, or affiliate products. Naturally, AdSense can add a few pennies to your monthly bottom line, too.

    @matt_62, glad to hear you found a great writer! If you're a regular client, I'd be willing to bet that s/he goes above and beyond to ensure that you have the very best copy s/he is capable of writing. The loyalty goes both ways, which is nice. :) By the way, sorry that I misunderstood you!

    I've read in another forum that some people don't care about how good the copy is. That kind of surprised me but hey, it takes all kinds to make a varied internet experience, I guess. Those types (IMO) are a perfect match for the "I will rewrite the entire Bible for you for only 10 cents" crowd. A match made in heaven. Sometimes, I have to remind myself though, that to writers in other parts of the world, $3 is like a week's wages or something like that. Some buyers don't take that into consideration, I don't think, when they price shop for copy.
     
    Annea, Dec 30, 2013 IP
    matt_62 likes this.