If you’re looking to hire a content writer, you’re probably wondering how much it will cost and whether it will be worth it to hire a freelancer rather than doing the work yourself.
Content writers may say they can’t tell you what they charge without knowing the details of your project, because they need to know about the timeline, word count, amount of research required, and so on. This is true: they can’t give you an exact amount with no details.
But in general, to know whether you can afford to hire a freelance content writer—and what kind of content help you can afford—you need to understand at least the price ranges you can expect from various types of writers. For example, if you ask how much a writer charges for a case study, they should be able to say, “I charge between X and Y, depending on A, B, and C.”
It’s a waste of time to schedule a phone call, have a long conversation about your needs, and wait for a proposal from a writer…only to discover they are way outside your budget. (Or even way under your budget, which is a red flag for many clients!) So let’s talk about:
- Typical fee ranges for content writers.
- Common fee structures used by freelance writers, and the pros and cons of each.
- Considerations that drive the cost of a freelance content writer up (and down).
(Want a handy guide with all this info to keep or share? Download our infographic “How Much Does a Content Writer Cost?” There’s no form to fill out—just click and go.)
How Much Do Content Writers Charge?
Here are some typical ranges:
- Blog article: $100 – $1,000+
- Whitepaper: $2,500 – $5,000+
- Case study: $1,000 – $2,500
- Email newsletter: $200 – $1,000+
- Feature article/Thought leadership article: $500 – $2,000+
As you can see, these ranges vary widely; and we’re not even including the rock-bottom prices you’ll get from “content mills” and bidding sites. But now, we’ll dive into the factors that drive the cost up or down, plus the different pricing structures freelance content writers use.
How Do Freelance Content Writers Charge?
It can be difficult to compare writers because they might employ different types of pricing. Here are the most common fee structures you might find, plus the advantages and disadvantages of each.
Some freelance content writers charge…by the hour.
With an hourly rate, you pay for the amount of time the content writer works on a project, including meetings, interviews, research, writing, editing, and revisions.
Pros of hourly rates:
The hourly rate is so common that it may be the easiest fee structure to understand for many businesses. The writer charges X per hour, they work Y hours, so you’ll pay Z. If you’re in a service business that charges by the hour yourself, this is an easy transition.
Cons of hourly rates:
Writers naturally work at different paces. If your hire happens to be a slower writer, you’ll pay more. Also, even though a writer may estimate that your whitepaper will take 12 hours, if they run into any problems that slow the process down, you’ll end up paying more than you expected.
Finally, in all fairness to the writer, if they happen to be fast writers or they wrap up a project faster than was planned, they earn less than they could have.
Some freelance content writers charge…by the word.
The idea of the per-word rate is pretty simple. If a writer charges $1 per word and a piece of content is 1,000 words, you pay $1,000. Easy math.
Pros of per-word pricing:
As with the per-hour pricing, depending on your industry this may already be familiar and comfortable for you. For example, if you run a publication like a print or online magazine, you and your writers are probably already using this pricing structure. Also, if you know exactly how many words something needs to be, you’ll know exactly what you’ll pay. Even if something comes up that causes the process to drag out, you’ll pay the same.
Cons of per-word pricing:
For the by-the-word pricing model to work best, you need to know exactly how many words a piece of content should be, which means you need to have a deep knowledge of industry best practices, your audience’s preferences, and how much coverage a particular topic warrants.
Also, with this structure, the writer doesn’t have the flexibility to write shorter or longer depending on the topic and the research they’re digging up, which can be a disservice to your audience.
If you do give the writer flexibility, you’ll always be worried that they’re padding the content to earn more. (Not that a good, professional writer would ever do that…but the worry will be there in the back of your mind!)
Finally, how do you measure the number of words? Is it the number of words the freelance writer turns in, or the number of words after revisions and edits—which may be higher or lower?
Some freelance content writers charge…by the project.
Project fees are less common, but still used by many content writers. With this rate structure, the writer gives you a price per piece (for example, $2,000 words for a case study) or per package (for example, $3,000 for three blog articles over one month, each of which comes with a meta description and two social posts to promote it.)
The pros of per-project pricing:
When a writer charges by the project, you always know exactly what you’re going to pay—no matter how long a project takes or how many words it winds up being in the end. That case study takes longer than expected because your writer has trouble digging up the right facts? You still pay the same.
With per-project pricing, you’re paying the freelance writer based on more than the time they spend or the number of words they can type. These writers roll every consideration into their project price: the time they estimate it will take, the value they estimate your business will get from the content, the experience and education they bring to the table, and more. You’re happy with the rate, and so are they—and happy writers do better work.
The cons of per-project pricing:
If you’re a numbers person, it may drive you crazy that you often can’t pick apart the offering to bring costs down. For example, if the writer charges $2,000 for your case study, you usually can’t bring the price down by, say, reducing the number of words by one quarter. These writers just don’t work that way.
As another example, what if you go for the “three blog posts/meta description/social posts” offer above—but you don’t want the social posts? How much would that cost? Will the writer offer you a discount if you want some things from column A and others from column B?
Also, if you’re used to hiring (or charging) by the hour or by the word, it might be difficult to incorporate a writer with this different rate structure into your freelance content team.
Some freelance content writers charge…by value.
The value rate structure is much rarer than the others, but it happens. With this type of pricing, the freelance writer charges according to the amount you stand to earn from the content.
Say you need a brochure for a million-dollar property. The right piece of content can help you bring in, well, one million dollars. The writer might charge $10,000, figuring that it’s worth $10,000—just 1% of the value it might bring in—for you to get the brochure done right. But if you’re selling a less-expensive product, the writer might charge less for the same content.
The pros of value pricing:
In some cases, the writers that offer value-based pricing are of the highest quality. They know they can get you the results you want, so they’re confident in charging this way. And they’re right—wouldn’t it be worth $10,000 to bring in $1 million?
The cons of value pricing:
Just because a freelance writer uses value-based pricing doesn’t guarantee they’re actually any good. Some writers are just smart marketers who know that when they use this rate structure, it boosts their perceived value in the eyes of the client.
Another problem: how can a freelance writer know what every project is worth to the client in the end? If you’re selling a $5 widget, can the writer accurately forecast how much you might sell with the right content?
Now that you understand the different pricing structures, let’s talk about what makes content more or less expensive.
What Drives the Cost of a Freelance Writer Up?
Depending on the pricing structure a writer uses, here are some considerations that might drive the price up.
Where you find the writer
A writer from a content site like Upwork or Fiverr may charge $50 for a 1,000-word blog article, because these tend to be newer writers, writers outside the U.S., or non-native English speakers. A content writer who runs their own business might charge $250 – $1,000 or more, depending on all the variables we talked about above. And if you go through a full-service content or marketing agency, there may be a markup of as much as 25-30%.
A complicated, technical piece of content will typically cost more than one on a lighter subject. This is partly because of the research required, and partly because writers who are subject matter experts in complex niches tend to charge more.
The number of meetings and interviews
More meetings = higher price, whether that’s more hours on an hourly fee or a higher price on a package rate. Even if a writer charges by the word, they may limit the number of meetings—and boost their per-word price for projects with more calls.
The turnaround time
Rush jobs cost more than those with reasonable timelines. What is considered a “rush” depends on the freelance writer, but in general anything under a week is most likely a rush job.
The type/length of the content
A whitepaper is longer and more research-intensive than a blog article, so you can expect to pay more for one. However, there are some blurry lines. What’s the difference between a long blog article and a short magazine article? A short whitepaper and a long article?
The amount of research required
The more research a content writer has to do—such as researching the topic, finding sources to interview, conducting interviews, etc.—the higher the cost. For example, a quick blog article with no interviews and little research might cost $200, while one with three interviews and extensive research can top $1,000.
How much strategy is involved
A content writer who works from a very detailed creative brief costs less than a writer who will develop topic ideas, research your competitors’ content, and help you weave the content into a full campaign.
This, of course, is more a reflection of you as a client than the writer. Some businesses have everything all laid out, from the brand messaging to the interview sources, and just want a writer to fill in the blanks. Others want the writer to contribute more in the way of ideas and strategy. Both ways are valid, but they will affect your costs in the end.
The writer’s experience and track record
Long-time freelance writers charge more than newer ones. However, buyer beware! Just because a writer has been in business for a long time doesn’t mean they’re any better than a newer writer. We have learned from painful experience that some writers publish samples on their website that are great only because their client did a massive edit. They parlay those samples into more work, and the cycle begins again.
Some writers charge less if you can guarantee them regular work; for example, a writer who charges $800 for a blog article might charge $3,000 for four blog articles per month (making each article $750).
A writer may offer to write the piece of content, and that’s it. Or they may offer extras like kickoff calls, SEO, internal/external links, a number of revisions, or formatting elements like sidebars and subheads. These extras, while they add value to the content, would bring up the price. Again, different writers offer different elements in their content and they’re all valid depending on your needs.
All of these variables are what can bring the cost of content writing up—and controlling some of the variables may bring the price down.
You have a small budget: Look for a less experienced content writer, hand them a list of sources to interview, and give them a detailed creative brief.
You have more money than time: Hire a veteran writer and have them hone the content idea, research the topic, find and interview their own sources, and perhaps even develop a promotion plan or repurposing plan for the piece.
So What Do Freelance Content Writers Charge?
Now that you have a good background on the different pricing structures and what will bring content costs up (or down), you probably understand why the price range for freelance content writing is so wide.
Wondering what we charge here at Hero’s Journey Content? Here are ranges we typically charge for different types of content. Keep in mind that the final cost depends on many of the variables above, and in some situations they can even be more or less than the ranges here.
We are not a company that does fill-in-the-blanks work, meaning we bring all our experience and skills into play for a client; projects include kick-off calls, a reasonable number of interviews, idea generation, SEO, meta descriptions, and other elements depending on the content. We also offer content planning and training services, so we’ll include some of these ranges as well.
- Whitepaper: $5,000 – $7,000
- Thought-leadership article/feature article: $1,500 – $3,500
- Case study: $1,500 – $2,500
- Series of 4 blog posts: $3,000 – $4,800
- Book ghostwriting (full-size): $25,000 and up
- E-book ghostwriting: $10,000 and up
- Downloadable lead-generation report/incentive: $3,000 – $5,000
- Email newsletter: $1,000 – $1,500
- Infographic: $2,000 – $3,000 (research/writing/design)
- Quarterly content calendar: $7,500 – $10,000
- Brand messaging platform: $7,500 – $10,000
- Content team training (8-week): $8,000 – $10,000
We’re flexible! So if you need something you don’t see here—one long blog article per month? a six-week training?—reach out for a custom quote.