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SEO Xcellence provides writing services for businesses large and small. I have some clients, but I could always use more. The thing is, I also understand the issue potential clients have in trying to figure out whether they can afford to pay someone to write for them. I’m going to try to help work through this process, and it might not turn out in my favor.

by Mike Schmid via Flickr

First, how do people decide how much they’re going to charge for services? I don’t charge the same rate to everyone.

If the topic is something that I’m considered kind of an expert in, that’s going to cost you more because the potential for my writing something for you that I could be writing for myself, and thus boosting my own presence, is worth more.

If the topic is something I know nothing about, which means there’s going to be research time involved, I get a boost for research time as well as writing the articles. Depending on how many articles someone wants, research can take awhile, since no one uses just one reference to learn about a topic. Even if I know something about it, sometimes there’s some research involved.

Articles or papers could be based on the number of pages someone needs, or a request for so many words, or the type of request. I remember writing a sales letter for someone that wanted 3,000 words, and I charged accordingly. I was also asked once to write a one page letter based on my expertise and got paid nicely for it.

I throw those things out to give some kind of idea of what writers go through. It’s like live training; companies often have this idea that they can pay someone $300 to come in and give a 4-hour presentation to their employees without realizing that it takes time to put a presentation together, time to rehearse, and money to print all the materials that are needed for the training. If people didn’t want to get paid for their expertise they’d be employees.

This is where we move into looking at costs. First, how much can you yourself write, and what does it cost you? Initially you might say “it doesn’t cost me anything to write”, and that might be true if you like writing. However, if you don’t, if it’s a chore, then think about what your hourly rate is and that’s how much it’s costing you to write.

Next, think about how much it would cost you to have an employee write your blog, if it’s a blog, or other papers? Even if it’s their job, how much are you paying that person, along with benefits, vacation, etc? If I charged you $5,000 a year to do it, are you paying me more or less than an employee? If I charged you $10,000 a year, are you paying me more or less than an employee?

Then think about what your goals are, or what the purpose is for what you need. You have a business blog to boost your online presence. The more new content you can have, the better your site will rank. If an online presence isn’t important to you, then you don’t need new content. If it is, new and consistent content is the best way to go. However, you might not need 30 articles a month, which will definitely cost you major money, to get the job done. You might only need an article a week; that’s lower money, and it will improve your website’s status.

Depending on your business, it might be enough; however, it might not be. In general, because my business does SEO and social media, and there are lots of other businesses that do the same thing, one article a week won’t get it done for this business. Even though I miss it from time to time, trying to stick to an article every 3 days, which is 10 articles a year, has helped move this website’s ranking up slowly but surely. If I was working towards generating income through my website, even if it’s offline, the higher my site is ranked the better it works for me.

However, there’s never a guarantee that more content equates to more business, and that’s something to consider as well. Traffic doesn’t always mean more money, although it can for many businesses. So, starting out with a deal where you’re paying someone $500 a month to write articles for you when your income doesn’t match up to it probably isn’t fiscally responsible.

What about your web copy? That will cost you as well, but on that front you could ask for a flat fee price instead of an hourly price, and it’s probably the smarter way to go. Although having continuous new content is beneficial long term, having good content to begin with is more crucial for your site, and having someone help you to do it if it’s not your strong suit makes a lot of sense.

Yes, there’s a cost, just like with everything else. Having to evaluate whether you can or should pay for the service is like deciding whether you hire an accountant or use Turbo Tax for your business taxes. One may cost you more up front, but it might also give you benefits you haven’t thought of. If it’s something on your mind, you definitely should talk to your content purveyor and see what they’re all about before going that route.

Now, did I just take money out of my pocket? :-)

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