Here's the strategic way to build a content marketing team - whether you're blogging for business or for yourself. This is how to pay, motivate, hire and manage blog writers and freelancers.

If you’re starting a company blog, or you’re looking to build out a team of freelancers for your blog, figuring out how much to pay writers can be a tricky task.

If you pay your writers too little, you’ll end up with bad quality content and your writing team will most likely leave you for better paying jobs.

On the flip side, most companies can’t afford to fork out $1000+ per article. If their blog costs thousands of dollars per month just for content, there won’t be any budget left for anything else.

So how do you create a win-win relationship between the company and freelance writers?

In this article, I’m going to share the process I’ve used to build long-lasting relationships with writers where both parties benefit.

 Free Bonus: Onboarding writers can be tricky, but I made a word for word script for onboarding writers that you can copy. Click here to download it. 

Why Paying Hourly Wages for Writers Doesn’t Work

I learned the hard way after many failed attempts that paying writers an hourly wage doesn’t work.

The reason the hourly wage model doesn’t work is because the writer isn’t incentivized to deliver a completed post.

Typically what happens is you agree with a writer on a certain hourly rate and get an estimate for how long it will take them to complete the project, then the writer underestimates how long research takes them, how long the post takes them, or how many revisions are needed.

You end up spending a bunch of time going back and forth which drives the cost up. By the time you get a completed post it ends up costing upwards of $400+ for something you’re not even that happy with.

How Much to Pay Blog Writers Per Blog Post

The most important part of working with first time writers for your blog is evaluating if the writer is going to be a good fit before negotiating payment.

The best way to evaluate a writer that you want to add to your freelance team is to give the writer a short writing test to see if they’re capable of writing a compelling piece of content on your subject matter.

If you want the full-process to do this, read this post for more detail:

How to Find, Evaluate and Hire Writers for your Blog

After the writer passes the evaluation process, I typically hop on a phone call with them to describe more about the company, the content strategy and go into more detail on exactly what we’re looking for.

Then after they’ve passed the test (or interview process) and I’ve described more into what we’re looking for, I typically negotiate a per-post fee going forward.

The reason the per-post payment model works well is because incentives are aligned for both parties – the writer wants to get paid and the blog manager wants a completed post that they’re happy with.

The range that I’ll usually budget per post is anywhere from $350-450 per post depending on the type of content that is delivered.

$200 per test project is the amount we pay writers for a test project. In part 4, we talked about giving writers a test project to see if they’re going to be a good fit. We pay a $200 flat fee for writers to do the test project. For the test project, we have writers listen to a pre-recorded interview that we’ve done, we share the angle of the article and then ask them to write the introduction and the first paragraph based on the interview and the angle we’ve given them.

$350 per article is the amount we typically pay writers that are just starting out with us. The blog posts can range from 1000-3000 words and the writer listens in and/or conducts the interview with the content strategist on our team to get the information needed for the article. Then the writer uses Otter.ai (we pay for this) to transcribe the interview and turn the interview into a full article on whatever subject we’re writing about. We pay $350 when a writer is just starting out because usually there’s a lot more editing needed when we’re working with a new writer.

$450 per article is the rate we pay for experienced writers on our team. We deem writers as experienced when their writing needs minimal editing. Writers typically get to this level after 3-4 months after working with us. The writer’s responsibilities are the same as outlined above, except we think they deserve a higher fee because their writing requires less editing on our end. We want to incentivize writers who can write well.

$500+ per article There are cases where we pay more than $350-450 per article. If we’re working on a mega project and there’s more work required than just writing, then there are cases where we’ll pay $500+ for the article. Also, if for some reason the article took the writer more time than usual, then we’ll usually add extra money onto the per article fee.

How I Set up My Freelance Writing Team

The important thing to note about these per-post fees is that once someone is onboarded, I view them as an extension of my marketing team.

I typically look to find 3-5 solid writers that all have different skill sets. I might look for a writer that can do creative non-fiction (typically better for interviews), a storyteller, and a writer that can do some basic research.

However, I always keep a job posting up for writing roles, as there is always some churn due to:

  1. Someone on your team getting a full-time job
  2. Not having enough time to work on your projects
  3. After a few posts you realize that they aren’t going to be a good fit going forward

My writing teams always have the freedom to contribute as much or as little as they like: They can make more money if they put in more effort or they can just view this as a side-project and contribute posts they’re interested in.

What I’ve found is that this model works well because it will even out between all of your writers. Typically what will happen is that one or two writers will do most of your writing (and do the best job) and others will be there to fill in the gaps when the main writers get busy.

The Ownership Hack: How to Give Writers a Feeling of Ownership So They’re Invested in Your Blog’s Success

A problem most people think of is:

“Won’t my blog suffer in quality if i’m exclusively using outsourced writers that aren’t really invested in the company?”

This is a good question and valid concern.

Over time, I’ve developed some habits that help keep writers invested in the success of their posts, instead of just treating this like a side job exclusively for money.

First, it’s important to drive home the fact that your writers are an extension of your marketing team. Your goal is to build a long-term relationship with them, NOT just use them for one post and be done with them.

I aim to share metrics with writers on a monthly basis to keep them engaged and to share feedback on how they’re posts are doing. This helps them get better over time and gives them feedback on which of their posts have done the best so they can hone in on what works for you.

When I was at Everwise, our blog manager Ada came up with a great idea to hold a webinar and to get all of the writers on the phone together. On this webinar we answered writers’ questions and they got a chance to meet one and other. This helped strengthen the relationships between the company and the writers and it also helped strengthen the relationship between all of the writers. They felt like they were part of something much more than just a ‘freelance writer.’

If you build your writing team this way, it’s a win-win for both parties. You’ll build long-lasting relationships with writers because it’s really easy to work with you. Writers have the flexibility to make as much money as they want and you’ll end up working with the best writers because they won’t feel like they’re getting taken advantage of.

 Free Bonus: Onboarding writers can be tricky, but I made a word for word script for onboarding writers that you can copy. Click here to download it. 

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