Part of why we built ContentFly is due to frustrations we had about requesting work on Upwork.
You've created a job for a blog post for your website, and you're sitting there thinking: what the hell should I pay for this?
It doesn't help that writer fees are every single number under the sun. There are writers who charge anywhere from $10 to $1000 for the same thing - and digging around their portfolio doesn't help, since everyone showcases the same things.
How do you actually know what to charge? What are the writer rates even based on?Here's a no-bullshit guide.
First, why we pay (and recommend) per-word pricing
Writers are, justifiably, very defensive when it comes to their rates. Part of it is subjective - it depends on how quickly the writer can complete the ask, so per-hour rates can be very tricky to optimize.
For instance, we have a few writers on ContentFly who are incredibly productive - they can churn out very high quality content, very quickly, and they like to move fast. The more the write, the more it becomes muscle memory - you'd think quality struggles, but it doesn't.
They consistently get 4.7, 4.8/5 ratings on our platform. It is possible to do that - and make a lot of money.
We have others who aren't so efficient, and like to take their time. They'll take one article and mull it over, play around with it, take their time with it. The quality isn't objectively better than the others, but they probably have more fun with it.
So you can see the challenge there of pricing on a per hour basis. Our data is clear: on the ContentFly platform, there's a very weak, if not non-existent, correlation between time spent and quality.
So, what are the rates?
At ContentFly, we pay our writers 5c/word. Most of our writers on the open market command rates 3 or 4 times that. At first glance, it might seem like we're underpaying them (people assume that and get angry with us sometimes).
As much as it's a compelling image that we pay our writers like a slave shop while laughing in our jacuzzis, it isn't the truth. Our margins are very slim - the average ContentFly subscription amounts to about 6c/word - so what we take back is 1c/word.
That 1c/word has to pay for fees, customer support, hosting, etc.
Don't get me wrong: we're not making the claim that we're some poor, altruistic shop. We just believe we've cracked an economic model that's fair for everyone - clients get good writing for a fair cost, writers get a fair rate that they can move up or down depending on their needs, and we can slowly and sustainable grow our company.
(We do not accept any investor money, and are fully bootstrapped)
On the open market, these are the reported rates we've seen from our writers. We're going to split it up between different quality tiers. All of these rates assume native speakers - non-native speakers charge far lower rates.
Tier 1 - The absolute best of the best of freelance writers. Frequently featured on websites like Forbes, Inc, WSJ, etc. Very picky with their engagements. Typical rate: $1.50/word
Tier 2 - Extremely solid writers who make a great living through their craft. Usually strike the fine balance I mentioned of quality and throughput. Typical rate: $0.5/word
Tier 3 - The very solid. These are the 75th percentile and above of freelance writers, and are usually the ones hired by companies to write full-time. Typical rate: $0.2-0.3/word
Tier 4 - This is a tier where there's a huge discrepancy in quality. On one hand, you have seasoned writers who simply aren't of the calibre to command a higher rate. On the other hand you have very high-quality writers who are new to the game and looking to get experience. Typical rate: $0.1-0.2
Tier 5 - This tier has a lot of non-native speakers, but it also has a lot of people in the Tier-4 quality range who find that a lower price point allows them to make more money because they can write very efficiently. Typical rate: ~$0.07
There you have it - these are the different rates you can expect. Unfortunately, open marketplaces like Upwork continue to recommend subjective per hour pricing, in which case you need to ask writers to break down the time taken for the words and why it takes as long as they say.
Hopefully this sheds some light into the different levels of quality you can expect at different rates, but this isn't a rule. That's why we recommend using ContentFly - you get the quality at a much more affordable rate and, in our estimation, our writers are happy as well.
When a blind marketplace is allowed to work, good things happen to everyone involved. The age of these broken auction systems is over.
Update: also check out this newer and more comprehensive overview article about How Much Do Content Writers Charge?