This is a natural question that, without fail, is part of every initial conversation I have with a prospect. Ideally, it would come towards the end of a conversation. Realistically, it’s one of the first questions.
Here’s the first part of my answer.
Yes, that may seem wishy-washy. Yes, it may seem like a way to avoid or at least dance around the question. But it’s the truth. The cost of content writing depends on a lot of factors
First, it’s important to realize that a copywriter doesn’t just sit down and start typing. The heavy lifting is done before any actual writing happens.
I need to understand your business, your goals, and most importantly, the needs of your clients. I need to determine what tone will resonate with your audience. In a nutshell, I need to find out what matters most to them.
Words without sound marketing strategy and research behind them are useless. I provide all of the above. And I charge for that.
Let’s take website content as an example. How many pages of content do you need? Approximately how much content will be on each page? For example, the amount of content on an “About” page will be more than you’ll need on your “Contact” page.
Note: You need more than contact information on your “Contact” page. If you don’t have a call-to-action that clearly conveys the one thing you want the visitor to do next and how they’ll benefit from doing that one thing, you’re assuming the visitor already knows. And you know what they say about people who assume. Stepping off the soap box.
Will there be sidebar content? If so, how much? Will there be a slider that needs content or a caption? If so, how many slides?
Do you have a design concept? I need to integrate the content seamlessly into the design.
How much research is required? Should I interview someone? Will you be providing me with information? Usually, I’ll need to do some research even if you provide me with information.
I understand that you may not have the answer to every single one of these questions during our initial conversation. But these are all things that can factor into the cost of content writing.
Just in case you haven’t figured it out yet, you won’t find a price list anywhere in this post. Just like a contractor has to come to your home, find out about your project, take measurements and calculate costs, it’s impossible for me to provide a content writing cost without understanding the scope of the project.
As you weigh the cost of content writing, consider this…
Anyone who can give you a price without discussing the project first is not putting enough thought or care into your project. And please don’t force your project into some arbitrary “package” to take advantage of a price point. The only thing that should dictate the parameters of your project is the goal you’ve set out to achieve.
I will say that some copywriters will write a 500-word blog for $25. I am not one of those copywriters. Just like any other product or service, you get what you pay for.
I understand that price may factor into your decision. But if you choose who will develop your company’s marketing message and write your content based on price alone – a decision that will directly impact your bottom line – I would have serious doubts about the viability of your business.
Finally, consider the value of what you’re paying for. Good website content can be repurposed into a good blog post or two, a brochure, parts of a sales presentation, or a bunch of tweets. A good blog can be repurposed into a podcast or video, or serve as the inspiration for a seminar.
Before you jump to the conclusion that cost of content writing is too prohibitive, consider how much mileage you can get out of that content. The value is probably more than what you thought. A lot more.
Karen Stewart says
Hi Scott, interesting post – as a fellow writer I get the ‘how much’ question a lot myself. Only recently I was asked if good copy directly increases sales – do you think you can ever show a direct correlation between them?
Hi Karen – I think it depends on the type of content. If you’re writing some kind of direct response or advertising copy, you can see the results pretty clearly. With content marketing, which is a marathon and not a sprint, it can be difficult to quantify the impact of good content on sales. There are also a lot of other factors related to content that impact sales – distribution, the design quality of a website and/or blog, a company’s customer service and responsiveness to comments, etc. Also, not everything can be tracked, including trust, top-of-mind awareness and credibility. I just think you need to be able recognize good from bad and invest in the good. Thanks – Scott
Don Lafferty says
This is an excellent explanation, Scott.
Thanks, Don. If only writing was as easy as sitting down and typing…
Joseph Hughes says
Scott, I could not agree more. Copywriting and content writing is an underestimated skill and asset to any business owner. I pay a lot for copywriting and I routinely see 10x ROI on it. Also, as with many industries, if the initial or primary discussion is focused on price, the relationship between buyer and seller is not a good fit.
Hi Joseph – Totally agree that when price drives the discussion, that’s a bad sign. As for the part about routinely seeing 10x ROI on copywriting, would you mind saying that a little louder? Thanks – Scott
Dave Rosenthal says
Good Stuff. It’s nice to get your perceptive on the big picture of content development.
Thanks, Dave. I think it’s natural for people to inquire about cost, but they should have a true understanding of what they’re paying for and how that cost is determined.