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The Influencer Whisperer: The Money Question: How Much to Pay Freelance Writers

May 30, 2017 - influencer content marketing, influencer management, The Influencer Whisperer - , ,
By: Chris Tozzi

If, like us here at Fixate, you work frequently with freelance writers, you have probably often wondered what to pay them.

In this post, we provide the answer—or something close to it. We can’t tell you exactly which pay rate is the best fit for your freelance writer network, of course. But we can give you some insights based on our experience.

Ways to Calculate Freelance Writer Pay

There are two main ways to calculate freelancer compensation. The first is to pay by the hour. The second is on a per-project basis.

We find that paying per project is the best approach. It’s hard to keep track of freelance writers’ time. It’s also easier from a cost-planning perspective to pay per project, because it allows you to know ahead of time how much you’ll owe your writers when the work is done.

This is why Fixate has consistent and standard rates that we pay freelancers for different types of work. For regular blog posts, we have a set rate. For extended articles, we also have a standard rate (although this can vary a bit depending on the details of the project).

For longer-form content, like whitepapers and eBooks, the rates we offer to freelancers are based on a percentage of the overall project contract. This rate varies somewhat between different types of projects depending on the amount of research and time required, but it is usually within a pretty consistent range.

How Much to Pay

Deciding whether to pay freelancers on a per-project basis or hourly is the easy part. Coming up with actual rates is harder.

At Fixate, we base our rates on the following—According to surveys of our subject-matter experts, it takes between four and six hours to write a standard blog post. In their day jobs as programmers, DevOps engineers and the like, most of our writers make between $50 and $100 per hour. To justify the time they spend writing for us, we pay them a per-project rate that reflects approximately what they would earn in their full-time jobs working the same amount of time.

This approach works well. How do we know? Because the rate we use works for our business model by keeping our margins manageable, while also ensuring that our freelancers keep coming back to write for us.

Other Types of Compensation

When thinking about how much to pay freelance writers, you should also take into account the non-monetary types of compensation you offer them.

Writing for Fixate offers more than just a paycheck and 1099-MISC at the end of the year. Our writers also get exposure within their communities. Their articles are published under their real names, and Fixate’s editors make sure that the messages and opinions of the writers are preserved when the articles are published by Fixate’s clients.

Many of our writers receive speaking gigs at tech conferences as a result of the articles they write through Fixate. The articles also give them a nice portfolio of relevant technical writing to show off when they apply for jobs and promotions.

In the DevOps market that we serve, these non-monetary rewards are never going to be enough on their own to justify asking writers to write for free. But they’re a nice additional form of compensation that you shouldn’t discount.

Nor should you overlook the importance of having a clear, streamlined payment process for your freelancers. Don’t pay them 90 days out. If you can help it, don’t send them paper checks that could get lost in the mail or misplaced. Make their lives easier by offering direct deposit. Easy payment terms are another perk that plays a role in developing a compensation model.

Conclusion

We haven’t told you in this post exactly what we pay our freelance writers. But we’ve given you hints—and it should be pretty clear that we pay well more than the $5-$25 per-article pittances offered by generic content mills.
That’s because rewarding our subject-matter experts fairly and communicating how much we respect the time they invest in writing articles is a key part of our business. We think it should be the same for any content-marketing company that wants to stand out.


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Chris Tozzi has worked as a journalist and Linux systems administrator. He has particular interests in open source, agile infrastructure and networking. He is Senior Editor of content and a DevOps Analyst at Fixate IO.