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How Much Should I Pay Freelancers?

If you’re outsourcing any work, how much you should pay freelancers probably enters your mind a lot. As someone who takes on outsourced work (I’m a content marketer and writer), and someone who outsources, I have a perspective many small business owners don’t. 

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I came across an interesting question on Quora and in addition to answering it, I decided to take it as a topic for the podcast today. The question was how much a freelance writer should charge for blog posts. This question comes up in a lot of different forms depending on who’s asking it: the client or the writer. 

The Short Answer…

To be honest with you, it depends. I know that that’s not the answer that people want to hear, but it’s a fact. There’s no standard rate list and writers have come up with rates based on a variety of factors. What are the variables when considering how much to pay freelancers?r

How You Can Better Ask This Question

When clients ask, it’s typically because they’ve never hired a freelance writer before. This covers freelancers in general. If you’re working with service professionals, their rates vary. I’m speaking from a writer’s perspective because I’m a writer, but this also applies to graphic and web designers. 

When a freelancer asks that question, it’s because they probably don’t know, which is a sign of inexperience. This doesn’t necessarily mean the writer themselves is inexperienced. It could be a new type of project. 

Whenever I take on a new project, I don’t ask how much freelancers charge. Typically, when I’m scoping for answers,I say “Can you share…?” For example, if I go on a Facebook group, I might say, “Can you share what your typical rate is for this?” By doing this, I get an idea of the market.  This is because the general rate may not be good for you, as a freelancer. 

Freelance services of almost any kind are not like picking from a menu. You can’t just say, “I’d like a blog post with the side of SEO. Thanks.” That’s not how it works. If it did, there are too many factors for that to be fair for the variety of freelancers that exist out there. 

The Deciding Factors

I mentioned that there are various factors that you have to consider when calculating a project rate. We’re going to go into some of those factors. 

I think knowing this is really important for clients because they can understand that freelancers can’t tell you exactly what it will be without any project details. 

So just saying, “I want a blog post,”, “I want a logo,” or “I want my website redesigned,” isn’t going to be able to let the freelancer quote you an accurate rate. 

For example, with a web design project, maybe the freelancer would want to know how many pages you want. Designing a 5-page website vs. a 20-page website includes different levels of effort, so the pay would be different. 

The Topic

In terms of writing, if the freelancer specializes in an industry, the first factor I have listed is the topic

So if you want a designer who also writes, then the topic becomes pretty relevant. The industry can be relevant depending on what the standard is. 

As you know from my business name, Defy The Status Quo, I like to know what the standard is and then flip it, but never to the detriment of anything. Flipping the standard can be a way of standing out. 

Still, if you want a good website, you want a good website, but you may flip the expectations of what your website will look like. 

Sorting by Difficulty

As it pertains to the topic, a blog post on gardening and a blog post on technology blockchain shouldn’t cost the same amount. So if I’m a writer and a client says, “How much is a blog post on gardening?” I can reply with, “That’ll be $75.” 

Then, the client may ask me “What about a blog post on the blockchain?” In that case, it wouldn’t make sense if I still quote them $75. I’m either going to have to do a lot more work for a blog post on technology, or I’ve got a lot of technology experience. The value doesn’t decrease either way.

There’s so much information on gardening out there, so it’s low-hanging fruit if you will. In my case, I also happen to garden, so I already know about the topic. But in terms of technology, even though there is a lot of information out there, it’s also more complex. 

Take Experience into Account

Moreover, if you want a writer who has experience in those industries, the rates may go up. A writer who specializes in technology is likely to have a higher rate because there’s just fewer people who specialize in something, especially a particular facet of technology. 

The Length of the Project 

Whether it’s writing or design, the length of a project also matters. If you asked me, “Ruthie, how much do you charge for blog posts?” I would ask you to specify how long you want it to be. 

If you don’t know, say so. Now I know that you don’t know, but don’t just pick a number out of thin air. 

For example, I haven’t written a 500-word blog post in a long time because they’re not particularly valuable for SEO and they’re not always long enough to cover an entire topic. 

Additional Time and Services 

Are topics such that the writer needs to interview your subject-matter experts? Does the website designer need to speak with other shareholders for this project? That’s additional time and so additional services. 

Are there any ancillary services that are going to be included? When I do blogging, I’ll find pictures and upload them onto their website, if the client wants me to. We take that off their hands. It’s not something they have to worry about, but it is an additional service. 

On the other hand, you always have to consider your freelancers’ experience levels. A new freelancer is going to be less expensive, but they’re probably going to make more mistakes. They may not know SEO writing very well, and there are other things they just won’t know. 

Consequently, their final project may not be as good as the more experienced, expensive writer’s. 

Why Experience Counts

I think something that’s key is that a less experienced freelancer typically reverts to order-taking. You tell me, “I want a blog post on this and I want it to be this long.” I say, “Alright,” and I do it exactly what you tell me to. I listened to you. 

But, an experienced writer might say, “First of all, that length isn’t good for SEO. Second of all, I did a little keyword research and that topic isn’t something your customers care about. So if we do this, you’re wasting resources.” 

You could choose to push it if you want, but now that I’ve given you this information, it’s pretty likely that you wouldn’t. My clients typically listen to me because I’m more experienced than them. 

Your Freelancer’s Location

Where your freelancer lives may come into play. You may need programming of some kind, and the freelancer may live in a country where the exchange rate is such that you can pay them a lot less, but it’s still a good rate for them. That’s always the key. 

I’m taking advantage of currency differences, but if the rate is still good for them, then it’s okay. 

Obviously, depending on these factors, a 500-word blog post could be anywhere from $10-$500, so just keep that in mind when you put out what you’re looking for. 

All right. This has been an episode of The Defiant Business Podcast, and I’m Ruthie, your host. I’ll see you next time.