Writer. Thinker. Strategist. Creative Tight Rope Walker.

The Sticky Wicket: Pricing and the Value of Writing

You’ve decided to hire a writer for your next project. Fantastic! But now you’re faced with the potentially daunting task of determining your budget allowance for that project and finding a writer to work within that budget. If you’ve never worked with a writer before, you might not know what to expect or how projects are priced. Keeping a few key points in mind, you can easily create a win-win relationship in which both you and your writer are satisfied.

As a client approaching a writer about a project, naturally the cost of the project is going to be a major consideration. There are several aspects of a project that contribute to the overall cost.
Project length. Do you need a 30-word product description, 400-word blog, or 1,000- word essay? Shorter projects are commonly priced by the word. The longer the piece, the higher the cost.
Frequency. If you plan on a higher volume of work, such as ongoing weekly blogs or monthly articles, it is fair to think that a frequency discount applies. After all, a writer likes the idea of guaranteed work they can count on month in and month out.
Project type. The time and effort required to write a short blurb differs greatly from that needed to write a 70,000 word novel. Depending on the subject matter, extensive research may be involved, requiring even more of an investment of the writer’s time and energy. While not directly part of the project’s word count, this time and effort does increase a project’s cost.
Deadline. How long does the writer have to finish the project? Rush jobs and fast turnaround times will almost always come with a higher price tag. When you are asking to step to the front of the queue, think of it like the incentive you give the club doorman or the restaurant host.
Revisions. Depending on the agreement you have with your writer, revisions may or may not be included in the original price of the project. Some projects – such as academic writing or ghost written novels – require multiple revisions while many other types of projects generally do not. It’s important to discuss with your writer ahead of time if revisions will be expected and, if so, how they will be priced in relation to the rest of the project. Very often, one to two rounds of revisions can be negotiated as part of the price.

While seeking out potential writers, you may have noticed some writers seem to offer their services for a song while others are asking for the entire double album. You may wonder if it wouldn’t be more cost effective to simply hire the least expensive writer to save some money on your project. While it may be tempting to try to cut corners, especially when budgets are tight, writing is truly an instance where you get what you pay for. What might that be?

Time. “Time is money,” the saying goes, and this is true for writers as well. A writer is investing time in your project, and that time is valuable.
Expertise and experience. A seasoned professional writer has the background, education and know-how to produce the quality writing you need. This is a honed, specialized skill not everyone has in their toolbox. Writers are providing a valuable service worth your investment. Sure, someone can say they have been doing something for 20 years and that may not necessarily count but it does hold some merit in terms of honing one’s craft.
A personal touch. When you approach a writer about a project, that writer is taking time either on the phone or in person to work with you and make sure you get exactly what you need. This may include multiple conversations, research, interviews, and more. All that is part of the process of producing the best, highest quality work possible. Although brief phone calls can be part of the package, expecting numerous long conference calls often push the writer to bill separately for that time.

Finally, when contracting with a writer, always get the details of the project and the project’s budget in writing. This will protect both you and your writer and will smooth the way for a successful partnership. While a relationship should not focus on money, it is certainly get those details, including the potential for some payments upfront on large projects or with new clients or the terms of billing periods, out of the way so the focus can be on what brought you together in the first place: the experience of writing and collaboration.

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