Category Archive Marketing

How Much Should You Pay for Blog Posts?

Boosting web traffic is crucial for your business, and quality1 blog content is the key to attracting more site visitors. You know that. But how much should you pay for SEO-optimized, business-friendly blog posts?

You can find content writing services at just about any price point. People on Fiverr will write you a blog for the cost of a hot dog or two; writers on UpWork offer hourly rates as low as $15.

Meanwhile, boutique2 content marketing agencies charge $350 and up for a single blog post. And while you absolutely do get what you pay for, you don’t have to pick the highest bidder for quality writing that’ll boost traffic and position your brand as an authority. For example, take — oh, I don’t know — us.

How We Decide What to Charge for Blog-Writing Services

Dollar bills on green background

Credit: Annie Spratt / Unsplash

Relay’s pricing sits in the middle range of the market, which is plenty, since we’re not in a huge coastal city paying $6 trillion a month in rent.

We bill per piece because that’s less confusing than hourly rates. It also makes for much simpler invoicing, freeing us up for more of those sweet, sweet billable tasks. And we don’t have a set price. We figure out a per-piece rate for each client. Here’s how we do that:

  • We decide what we want our hourly billing rate to be. Right now, it sits at about $70 an hour. We know that, if we’re lucky, maybe half of our time at work is spent writing, i.e., actually billable. But this rate takes all those unbillable3 tasks into account (have I mentioned that St. Louis is a pretty affordable place to live?)
  • We offer new clients a free trial piece. That gives everyone a chance to see if we’re a good fit, and it also helps us figure out just how long it’ll take to produce an excellent piece of writing for your unique business.
  • Say you’re in an industry we know really well (like data storage, industrial manufacturing, or logistics). Maybe it only takes an hour to write that 600-ish-word blog post. Well, lucky you: We’re going to pitch you a rock-bottom $70-per-piece rate.4
  • We tend to spend about two hours on a really good blog post for an industry we’re still learning. So our most common starting fee is $140 per piece.
  • Ongoing contracts save clients money. Say you want 10 blogs per month for the foreseeable future. Sure, we’ll chop the per-piece price some. Our package pricing may make us slip down to $50 or $60 per hour for a bit, but we like long-term partnerships. Reliable work is its own value. Anyway, the more we learn about your industry, the faster the writing goes.

So that’s how the sausage is made. It costs more than a hot dog, but it is good sausage5.

Choosing a Content Writer for Business Blogs

A lot of content writers don’t like to discuss pricing publicly. I guess they don’t want competitors to undercut them. We’re not worried about that; price competition isn’t the only factor in choosing a contractor. Assuming quality work on all sides, it’s not even the biggest factor, if you ask me. Getting along is.

Business relationships are a lot like, well, other human relationships. Maybe we’re not a good fit, in which case we go our separate ways. But maybe we meet each other and we hit it off and, next thing you know, a year has gone by and your site traffic is through the roof. You’ll be glad you skipped the Fiverr crowd.

Contact us if you want to talk business, or if you think there’s a better way to charge for blog posts, or if you’re just curious as to why we included so many footnotes in a piece about pricing6.

We’re a Worker-Owned Cooperative. Here’s Why.

In 2019, Relay Online Marketing became a worker-owned cooperative workplace. Every member of our team is a co-owner of our business; we all make the same hourly rate. When we need to make a business decision, we vote. Every vote is equal. When we hire new employees, they will be invited into the ownership structure no later than one year after the date of their hire. 

And no, we’re not hippies.

Here’s what happened. In 2008, I quit a customer service job and began my career as a freelance writer. I quickly learned that I work much more efficiently when I can directly see the benefits of my labor; if I know that I get $20 for turning in a blog, I’ll complete the work as quickly as I can. 

So I wrote hundreds of articles, and over time, the quality of my writing improved. Soon, I had more clients than I could handle on my own. Rather than turn away work, I hired employees, and by 2018, I had a successful small business. 

Neon Hands

Credit: Charles Deluvio / Unsplash

But by 2019, I was burned out. I’m not a natural manager, and more importantly, I didn’t see myself as a boss. Neither did anyone else. My management style is basically, “Hey, when you’re done with that, come look at this YouTube compilation of news anchor fails.” I spent my time meeting with clients, digging through Quickbooks, and performing other tasks that didn’t involve writing or SEO in any direct way.

Those tasks were important, but they weren’t especially difficult. I couldn’t justify taking a significantly larger paycheck than my employees. This isn’t to pat myself on the back for changing the structure — that was a group decision — but an honest appraisal of the situation. My time was no more valuable than anyone else’s time, and as we grew, the bureaucracy of business became a bigger problem.

That made me think about those early days of copywriting. I knew I worked better when my pay was directly tied to the quality and quantity of my work, and I knew that what motivated me would be just as effective at motivating other people. I sat down with my employees (now partners), showed them a few hours of YouTube videos, and laid out a basic plan: We’d share every part of the business. They recommended changes, we voted, and we printed up an operating agreement.

We were small and nimble enough to make that approach viable, and our risk was limited: If our business started to fail, we could always revert back to our old structure.

In 2019, we reset the business as a shared LLC. Our day-to-day work changed in minor ways, but we immediately became more productive. We worked less hours. We eliminated some of the efficiency issues that had plagued our old business — I didn’t have to worry about payroll or health insurance payments, and our company meetings were smoother and quicker. Difficult decisions were handled democratically. 

We know that our approach isn’t ideal for every type of business, but it worked for us for a few key reasons. First, we’re writers — we understand the importance of deadlines, and we’d all worked as contractors before joining together as a business. We’re willing to hold ourselves accountable. Second, we’d already set up a great team. We know how our coworkers work, and our company’s culture has remained consistent as we’ve grown and changed. 

Finally, we were willing to try something new for the sake of creating a more equitable structure. We believe that worker ownership helps businesses grow while preventing racism, gender discrimination, and other forms of prejudice from taking hold. We wrote several articles into our operating agreement allowing for the swift dismissal of anyone who creates a hostile work environment, and while we don’t anticipate those issues in our business, we believe that limiting our power as individuals will help us protect each other.

With that said, we work with businesses of all sizes, and our clients have found plenty of other ways to maintain safe, productive work environments. This is simply what works for us — and while our structure is slightly unusual, it gives us the best possible framework to serve our clients effectively.

 

What’s an Economist Doing in a Marketing Department?

With the recent upswing of content marketing, forward-thinking companies are relying on experts to explain their highly specialized industries to discerning audiences.

In 2013, Toshiba America Medical Systems took this trend to its logical extreme and created a new position – Manager of Health Care Economics – dedicated solely to educating consumers. The first person to occupy this position is named Tom Szostak, and while he’s technically part of a marketing department, he doesn’t do anything we would traditionally call marketing; his role is to help people understand an incredibly complex law.

Introducing Customers to a Complex Concept

Szostak is a health-care economist who has published broadly within his field, and he’s also Toshiba’s go-to resource for navigating the complex twists and turns of the Affordable Care Act. Advertising Age calls him a “secret content-marketing weapon” in a recent profile.

Since taking the job in 2013, Szostak has published studies with respected medical leaders like the Gates Vascular Institute. He has also written white papers and a five-part introduction to the Affordable Care Act for the medical imaging industry. (The first installment is available for download here.)

It’s traditionally rare to see this sort of specialist operating under a VP of Marketing – but, given the importance of accurate, high-quality information required for responsible content marketing, we may see more companies following suit.

While Szotak is engaged in a very oblique sort of business-to-consumer content marketing, the field seems to be opening up even more in the business-to-business (B2B) space. A report from the Content Marketing Institute mentions that a staggering seventy-three percent of B2B marketers say they produced more content in 2014 than in 2013.

What does this all mean for your business? Whether you’re choosing a content management service or handling the process internally, the takeaway is clear: accurate, well-researched, original content is key to spreading your company’s message.

If you’re ready to talk about what strong content can do for your business, contact us today.