How Can Someone Get Paid So Much?

by Monthy
26 replies
Hi there,

Today I have a rather unusual question: Why do you think some people may charge like 100 times more than others for providing almost the same service and get clients?

I am referring specifically to the writing business: How can somebody request $0.5, or even $1 per word and be successful with such a huge rate while most writers get paid around $0.05 per word (and that is considered quite expensive by most clients).

Actually, if you try to find clients at Elance, Upwork, Freelancer.com and the like, you will have difficulty finding a client who will be willing to pay $0.05 per word, or $50 per 1000 words. Most of them are seeking much cheaper writers. The most common rate you will come across is $5 per 500 words, or $10 per 1000 words. Now if you compare that rate to the highest one mentioned above ($1 per word), that is, wait for it,

ONE HUNDRED TIMES LESS

than what the "expensive" guy/gal is charging. I know you are going to tell me there will be a huge difference in quality, and you will be right, because most of these "expensive" writers will really do their best, will have a lot of experience and might even interview some experts in the given niche to get the information they need for the research. However, I have bought content in the past from people who charged around $5 per 500 words and the content was error-free, the writer did address everything that was requested and he had a good writing style that was both informative and fun to read. So I don't think if the "more expensive" guy/gal charges 100 times more, it will result in 100 times greater quality of his/her writing.

I would like to ask: What do you think these writers do that makes them so successful? Is it really all about how you market yourself? Sometimes the websites of these "expensive" writers are quite straight-forward and simple and they use a standard way of being contacted (through a contact form, for example). I'm not sure how anyone can be willing to pay $1 per word when there are thousands of other writers out there who'd be willing to do the work for so much less and come up with basically with content of the same quality.

Thank you for any input.

Monthy
#earn #freelance #paid #writer #writing
  • Profile picture of the author onSubie
    It comes down to quality of writing.

    Paying cheap writers just gets poor quality writing. I mean really poor.

    Read articles at real professional publications like Cosmopolitan and the New Yorker and compare them to articles that are spun and spit out at iWriter.

    Read a few articles at "Wired" magazine and compare them to the stuff you see from content mills and "discount" writers.

    Like this one:.
    Cove's Journal App Lets You Process Your Emotions With Music | WIRED
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  • Profile picture of the author Brad Gosse
    There's value, and then there's perception of value.

    2 very different things. Many companies budget a per word rate that's higher because they perceive it to be better.

    So assuming 2 writers do the same quality of work. One can still charge more, work less and still do well while the other hustles at a lower price.
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  • Profile picture of the author Elvis Michael
    A big part comes down to how you POSITION yourself. Positioning yourself above the rest can give customers a higher perceived value, even if your quality is as good as that of a "$7 per 500 words" writer.

    Higher perceived value, combined with good marketing, can make a huge difference.

    Think about this:
    Apple tends to overcharge customers for just about everything, especially with their computers and their once mega popular iPods. I know for a fact that other MP3 players were much better, but Apple still got away with charging more. Thanks to the above, people always swore that there was nothing better on Earth than those barely-useful little things.
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  • Profile picture of the author Monthy
    Thank you guys for the responses.

    I am aware of perceived value. I am just curious about how to create it in the mind of the potential client.

    I think I know of a way to kill the perceived value - by letting the client decide the charged rate and just agreeing to it. I think every great writer is (or should be) aware of their own value - if you just agree to anything that anyone offers you, you are essentially labelling yourself as unworthy of earning more.

    Still, one hundred times of a difference is huge.
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  • Profile picture of the author godinu
    actually .05 /word is very cheap and not a good pay rate for the average writer. I'm talking about from a writer's standpoint and trying to make a living, There are editorial groups that show standard rates for various kinds of writing/copy writing and editing, and 5 cents per word is lowball. I think elance/odesk/etc has greatly skewed the perspective on things, but think about it. Would you be willing to do tasks that take an hour or two and only earn $8 for your efforts?

    the average low-end copy writer makes at least $40/hr USD, or may charge $25/hr for easy repeat work. High-end writers charge many times this. Some make hundreds per hour, even.

    I'm not trying to burst your bubble -- I'm just trying to show the fair working wage angle on what a real writer living in the US, Canada, EU, or UK may charge. Some writers in India or China may be able to get by on pennies per dollar, but you may also get what you pay for.

    5 cents per word would be the low end of the stick as far as what the average professional writer would accept -- this is what content mills pay writers, or what tiny independent publications pay.
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    • Profile picture of the author DABK
      A lot of it has to do with asking for the higher rate in front of people who can afford to pay it.

      Yup, 2 simple steps: identify your target market; ask for the money (in a nice, elegantly and/yet persuasively written way?).

      Copy writers are perceived as adding more value than technical writers; technical writers are perceived as adding more value than generalists.

      Step 1: don't be a generalist.
      Step 2: identify possible buyers of your services that can afford (and normally pay) your higher fees
      Step 3: convince them that you're good
      Step 4: ask for your (high) fee
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      • Profile picture of the author Monthy
        Originally Posted by DABK View Post

        A lot of it has to do with asking for the higher rate in front of people who can afford to pay it.

        Yup, 2 simple steps: identify your target market; ask for the money (in a nice, elegantly and/yet persuasively written way?).

        Copy writers are perceived as adding more value than technical writers; technical writers are perceived as adding more value than generalists.

        Step 1: don't be a generalist.
        Step 2: identify possible buyers of your services that can afford (and normally pay) your higher fees
        Step 3: convince them that you're good
        Step 4: ask for your (high) fee
        Thank you, but I am struggling to think of a way of going about step 2 - how would you identify possible buyers of your services that can afford higher fees? How would you know how much money they possess that they are willing to spend? And how would you know how much they normally pay? You can't get that kind of info just by examining their websites.
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        • Profile picture of the author DABK
          Tough one...


          They bought before, so you can buy lists of companies that advertised in x, y, z, where x, y, z are publications/websites with lots of value, so they'd be charging a lot.

          You create a website that talks about one of their needs, and have them contact you, and the contact form asks about the largest amount they spent on whatever marketing/copywriting type project you want.

          You advertise in some publication/site and sent them to a page where you clearly state that your fees start at $x. If they contact you anyway, they're ok with paying $x or more, if they see value.

          Originally Posted by Monthy View Post

          Thank you, but I am struggling to think of a way of going about step 2 - how would you identify possible buyers of your services that can afford higher fees? How would you know how much money they possess that they are willing to spend? And how would you know how much they normally pay? You can't get that kind of info just by examining their websites.
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    • Profile picture of the author Monthy
      Originally Posted by godinu View Post

      actually .05 /word is very cheap and not a good pay rate for the average writer. I'm talking about from a writer's standpoint and trying to make a living, There are editorial groups that show standard rates for various kinds of writing/copy writing and editing, and 5 cents per word is lowball. I think elance/odesk/etc has greatly skewed the perspective on things, but think about it. Would you be willing to do tasks that take an hour or two and only earn $8 for your efforts?

      the average low-end copy writer makes at least $40/hr USD, or may charge $25/hr for easy repeat work. High-end writers charge many times this. Some make hundreds per hour, even.

      I'm not trying to burst your bubble -- I'm just trying to show the fair working wage angle on what a real writer living in the US, Canada, EU, or UK may charge. Some writers in India or China may be able to get by on pennies per dollar, but you may also get what you pay for.

      5 cents per word would be the low end of the stick as far as what the average professional writer would accept -- this is what content mills pay writers, or what tiny independent publications pay.
      Thank you very much for providing this valuable insight. I am actually located in the EU but always thought of my location as a barrier. On the one hand, I know the Internet makes the world very small and you can be in contact with people from all around the world, chat with them and do business with them, too, but I also know that many Americans prefer hiring other Americans. I think there are various reasons for that, mainly because they want to help their own economy and also because Americans know their own culture much better as they grew up in the country and can use the language and facts better than someone located outside of the USA.

      I just wanted to ask you if you think that one needs to develop oneself to get to the same level these professional writers are on. I think I am a decent writer and can write on a wide range of topics. Doing researching is my second nature as I've done so much of it and so many times (both for school and for work, too) that I can select very well the important pieces of information in the sources I am basing the researching on and then create a good piece of writing that hopefully informs and benefits the reader in some way. I always try to add my own perspective on the topic, too, so as not to end up just re-writing what others have written. I might even add some facts I remember right from the top of my head when writing the given piece.

      Do you think that besides developing your writing ability, you also need to work on letting people know who you are and what you can do for them? In other words, in case you really are a good writer and don't need to "build yourself up" as a writer, can you start in this "upper class" of writers by simply asking for more money? I'm thinking if it was that easy then everybody would be asking for more and getting clients, yet they are people who ask for $15 per 500 words and spend days or weeks trying to find a client who'd be willing to hire them.
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  • Profile picture of the author AmberJB
    As in anything, if you are "well known" and "known to be good", you can charge more. Who gets more money, Tony Robbins, or the small town counselor? Angelina Jolie, or the actress in the local production? Dr. Oz or your personal doctor?
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  • Profile picture of the author Randall Magwood
    They probably just believe in themselves, the quality of their marketing, and the quality of their writing.
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  • Profile picture of the author Steve L
    Originally Posted by Monthy View Post

    Hi there,

    Today I have a rather unusual question: Why do you think some people may charge like 100 times more than others for providing almost the same service and get clients?

    I am referring specifically to the writing business: How can somebody request $0.5, or even $1 per word and be successful with such a huge rate while most writers get paid around $0.05 per word (and that is considered quite expensive by most clients).

    Actually, if you try to find clients at Elance, Upwork, Freelancer.com and the like, you will have difficulty finding a client who will be willing to pay $0.05 per word, or $50 per 1000 words. Most of them are seeking much cheaper writers. The most common rate you will come across is $5 per 500 words, or $10 per 1000 words. Now if you compare that rate to the highest one mentioned above ($1 per word), that is, wait for it,

    ONE HUNDRED TIMES LESS

    than what the "expensive" guy/gal is charging. I know you are going to tell me there will be a huge difference in quality, and you will be right, because most of these "expensive" writers will really do their best, will have a lot of experience and might even interview some experts in the given niche to get the information they need for the research. However, I have bought content in the past from people who charged around $5 per 500 words and the content was error-free, the writer did address everything that was requested and he had a good writing style that was both informative and fun to read. So I don't think if the "more expensive" guy/gal charges 100 times more, it will result in 100 times greater quality of his/her writing.

    I would like to ask: What do you think these writers do that makes them so successful? Is it really all about how you market yourself? Sometimes the websites of these "expensive" writers are quite straight-forward and simple and they use a standard way of being contacted (through a contact form, for example). I'm not sure how anyone can be willing to pay $1 per word when there are thousands of other writers out there who'd be willing to do the work for so much less and come up with basically with content of the same quality.

    Thank you for any input.

    Monthy
    It comes down to whether or not their writing gets results. A lot of the time you can increase conversions dramatically by just rewriting the headline. Which is only a sentence or two. Over the lifetime of a business, this can account for a substantial increase in profits and revenue. So in that case, $1 per word would be very cheap.
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  • Profile picture of the author abenmariem
    You can work as a freelancer or as an affiliate of a big company like Amazon, ebay or ali express.
    You bring customers to these companies and you get paid for that.
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  • Profile picture of the author Raydal
    Originally Posted by Monthy View Post

    I am referring specifically to the writing business: How can somebody request $0.5, or even $1 per word and be successful with such a huge rate while most writers get paid around $0.05 per word (and that is considered quite expensive by most clients).
    You are asking the wrong question, so it is hard to get the right answer.
    Real writers don't charge "per word" for their writing. As soon as you
    start thinking that you are getting paid by the number of words you
    write, then you'll always be shackled at the bottom of the pool.

    Just think about those who write the headlines for popular magazines,
    what if they got paid per word? Yet, they get thousands of dollars
    for those few words.

    There are two signs that a speaker was ill-prepared:
    1. His speech as too long.
    2. His speech was too short.

    Expressing ideas using an economy of words is a skill that
    doesn't come easily. Those who appreciate this will pay for it.

    -Ray Edwards
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  • Profile picture of the author Frank Donovan
    Originally Posted by Monthy View Post

    How can somebody request $0.5, or even $1 per word and be successful with such a huge rate while most writers get paid around $0.05 per word (and that is considered quite expensive by most clients).

    Actually, if you try to find clients at Elance, Upwork, Freelancer.com and the like, you will have difficulty finding a client who will be willing to pay $0.05 per word, or $50 per 1000 words. Most of them are seeking much cheaper writers. The most common rate you will come across is $5 per 500 words, or $10 per 1000 words. Now if you compare that rate to the highest one mentioned above ($1 per word), that is, wait for it,

    ONE HUNDRED TIMES LESS

    than what the "expensive" guy/gal is charging.
    It might seem like "most" writers get paid that little, but in practice, there's a huge gulf between the kind of writing you see talked about in internet marketing circles, which is all too often a case of the blind leading the blind, and the wider world of professional writing.

    Authority websites, as well as most offline publications regularly pay anywhere between $0.30 and $1.00 or more, per word. It can be difficult to break into this world - like many things in business, it can depend on having the right contacts - but if that's your aim, forget about the content mills and concentrate on building a rep with the major players. You'll have to be good, and you'll have to be lucky, but it's certainly possible.

    Start by looking through the publishers listed in here (not an affiliate link):

    Writers' and Artists' Yearbook 2016: Bloomsbury:...Writers' and Artists' Yearbook 2016: Bloomsbury:...

    ...or any equivalent publication for your territory, and get a feel for the type of work they're in the market for. Study the advice, research the articles in magazines and websites covering the topic(s) in which you want to specialize, and take it from there.

    .
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  • Profile picture of the author godinu
    re: your questions: it may be hard to make top dollar on your first projects out of the chute regardless how good your writing is. Potential clients usually want to see samples or some proof that you can do what you say you can. Many of the long-term freelancers out there have sites that list past clients/etc. You may have to do some writing on the lower end of the scale to build up a portfolio. (Or you can use your own sites as examples of your work.)
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    • Profile picture of the author Steve B
      Consider this example:

      Writer "A" is hired to write a sales letter of 2,000 words for my new product. He charges me $1/word and I pay him $2,000. My product over the next three months generates $7,000 in revenue.

      Writer "B" is hired to write a sales letter of 2,000 words for my new product. She charges me $20,000 for the project. My product over the next three months generates $700,000 in revenue.

      Writer "B" charged 10 times more than writer "A" for the same thing - a sales letter.

      Which writer would you hire?

      Steve
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      • Profile picture of the author Monthy
        Originally Posted by Steve B View Post

        Consider this example:

        Writer "A" is hired to write a sales letter of 2,000 words for my new product. He charges me $1/word and I pay him $2,000. My product over the next three months generates $7,000 in revenue.

        Writer "B" is hired to write a sales letter of 2,000 words for my new product. She charges me $20,000 for the project. My product over the next three months generates $700,000 in revenue.

        Writer "B" charged 10 times more than writer "A" for the same thing - a sales letter.

        Which writer would you hire?

        Steve
        The answer to that question is obvious. However, I can't imagine how one copy could be that much better than the other one and result in ten times greater revenue. I think the worse one would have to be "bad".
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  • Profile picture of the author art72
    Personally, anyone who chooses to write web content should understand the purpose of the writing.

    In most cases, if written properly, it will include on-page SEO, a powerful call-to-action, or have a pursuasive nature that engages, informs, and compells an action.

    If a copywriter crafts a VSL that produces $500k in sales during a 3-day launch, you certainly cannot expect the same result from a 'bland' $5 article written around a keyword or topic, as filler for a blog or a website.

    I personally put my writing on hold for a long time to better understand the marketing practices, on- page SEO, ad copy, sales copy, email follow ups, affiliate reviews, etc... As they are all different, but, if compiled together properly can generate serious revenue streams.

    Nothing against anyone writing $5 or $7 articles, but... If you're going to research a product, service, or topic and write for pennies per word, "Why wouldn't you write affiliate reviews on products & services that will pay you recurring income?" -or- "Write posts/articles for products/services that yield the potential for multiple sales/commissions?"

    Speaking strictly from a personal perspective; I flat out refuse to work (or write) for peanuts. Doesn't make sense to me, as one review I wrote years ago still pays me $27 commissions. To date, that one article (little over 1,000 words) has generated over $250 and took me 2 hours to whip it up! ($125 per hour... or $4 per word!)

    So, in my opinion... it's better to know what you're writing & time is worth, than to create a minimum wage (or less) job, writing for others.

    To each their own. I often obsess over my writing 'gift' paying me too much, and have actually freaked out asking myself; " do I deserve to make money writing with only a 7th grade education?"

    Then, I think of Eben Pagan's story, and I am reminded what learning marketing can do for anyone willing to take action and apply the knowledge.
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  • Profile picture of the author BoredMarketer
    Quality of your writing matters a lot. People are willing to pay a lot more for content thats makes them money ( Landing pages/ ads/ etc). The majority of the jobs on Upwork and other freelance websites are for generic content that's really not unique in any way.

    If you want to charge more you need to look for clients elsewhere.
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  • Profile picture of the author writeaway
    Specialization matters quite a bit.

    Also, the top writers I am aware of don't have to advertise. They get work through referrals and there is hardly any negotiation involved.

    The market for writing services operates the same way as other markets: segmentation, specialization, premium branding, and positioning.

    If you seek work from content mills or freelance platforms, you will be engaged in a race to the bottom.

    If you specialize and develop a network of clients by focusing on verticals you're an expert in, you won't have to work as hard and you'll get paid way more.

    It takes time, work, and, of course, being at the right place at the right time.
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  • Profile picture of the author faisalmaximus
    Cheap articles may be error free, but not always written with in-depth research. I have my own writing team and I know how much difficult it is to provide articles with in-depth research. People will like my articles as well as these articles will be SEO friendly and effective for conversions.
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  • Profile picture of the author Lucian Lada
    You think there's little difference between a cheap article and an expensive one, but the reality is that there's such a big difference, it's not even worth talking about.

    Writing is part art, part science. Cheap writers not only lack talent, but they also have no idea there's some science behind writing. It's not rocket-science, sure, but it's important if you want the piece to perform well.

    If someone's inclined to learn more about writing, especially about the "science" part, I recommend reading:

    1. Writing and Thinking: A Handbook of Composition...Writing and Thinking: A Handbook of Composition... 2. Turn Your Words Into Traffic: Finally! the Secret...Turn Your Words Into Traffic: Finally! the Secret...
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  • Profile picture of the author weezyfeesy
    Viral marketing will be a great factor in this.
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  • Profile picture of the author oneresource
    personally i have used writers which are native speakers and recently some non native speakers turned out to be as good, if not better. i guess it's how much the writers devote to their writing hope this helps
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  • Profile picture of the author Alex The Lion
    Great writers who charge a high price and who generate repeat orders deliver a level of quality beyond that of normal writing gigs.

    Top quality writers are often degree educated and are versed in the complexities of English grammar, vocabulary and sentence structure. Most cheaper writers would struggle to define a gerund or explain the principles of writing in an active voice.

    That being said, some amazing writers exist out there who charge low prices due to not having an existing reputation.
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