Article and Content Writers: Going Broke Writing for IM Types?

28 replies
Hi Warriors,

If you're an article writer, content creator, ghostwriter or the like, the chances are good you've taken a pay cut lately. Thanks to market pressure, outsourcing to Third World countries and many idiots suggesting that IM newbies get their start writing articles, write-for-hire has become a buyer's market in the IM niche.

That means you are competing with literally thousands of hungry, wannabe writers who'll take jobs for rates that will put you in the poor-house. It's not their fault and it's not the fault of the Internet Marketers who sharpen their pencils when it comes to their budget for outsourcing. It's your fault.

No matter how much you may complain, whine or shout, "You get what you pay for", you're still in a trap of your own making. Cheap article writers can still produce excellent work that may even outshine what you do. That's because they are willing to do what you are not: work for what the marketplace will pay.

Here's the point: it's up to you to find other buyers of content that don't "know" that a penny a word (or less) is the going rate for article content. Think about it. If all you do is scour the discussion groups for Internet Marketing, you're looking in the wrong place for top-dollar writing jobs.

Did you know that local business owners will gladly pay in dollars per word for much of the same content that you may be giving away to rapacious IM types? It's possible for you to create Web page content, blog posts, short reports, etc., and get paid handsomely if you just start looking somewhere else than here, for example.

Ready for the kicker? If you approach brick-and-mortar business owners and say you'll write for pennies per word, you might lose your chance to work for them. They don't want cheap. They want the best and are willing to pay for it.

Just because folks here are used to paying little for your work, that doesn't mean your work is worth little, money-wise. It just means you're looking in the wrong place.

Sincerely,

Vince Runza

P.S. Almost inevitably, some cheap yahoo will complain that if you charge dollars per word, you'll be ripping off some business owner. Keep in mind, everyone is entitled to his or her own stupid opinion. No, really!
#article #article writing #broke #content #ghostwriting #living wage #top dollar #types #write-for-hire #writers #writing
  • Profile picture of the author Dave Rodman
    Banned
    Writers are no different than any other industry. EVERYONE faces pricing pressure. My dad lost 2 major contracts with major Home Improvement centers when the work went to overseas companies. 1 of them came back to him when the quality wasn't good...the other one didn't because the quality/price ended up being great. That's the business.

    The internet is a double-edged sword. You can setup shop today and make money...good for you, but bad when others can do the same thing. Instead of whining about the competition creates, I would be happy that you have more opportunities. if you're good at your craft, then you'll be just fine.
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    • Profile picture of the author bethsuzi
      It's also in part down to what quality of writing marketers are looking for. Some are happy with mediocre waffle where other, more discerning marketers realise that a better quality of writing promotes their business better and more efficiently. Although, I think generally no matter where you look for work, due to the recession, marketers are looking to pay slightly less for writing fees at the moment. I have noticed this especially at Elance.com where some buyers are looking for $2-$3 for a 500 word, well written article .

      Beth
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      • Originally Posted by bethsuzi View Post

        It's also in part down to what quality of writing marketers are looking for. Some are happy with mediocre waffle where other, more discerning marketers realise that a better quality of writing promotes their business better and more efficiently. Although, I think generally no matter where you look for work, due to the recession, marketers are looking to pay slightly less for writing fees at the moment. I have noticed this especially at Elance.com where some buyers are looking for $2-$3 for a 500 word, well written article .

        Beth
        Be very careful, Beth. There are writers in the Philippines who are every bit as skilled as American writers (in American English), but charge much less because their cost of living is less.

        I've carefully investigated using Philippine writers as an outsource for some of my work. Many have a problem with meeting deadlines, but some are excellent writers who get the product out the door on time.

        HTH

        Vince Runza
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        • Profile picture of the author bethsuzi
          Originally Posted by Vince Runza Online View Post

          Be very careful, Beth. There are writers in the Philippines who are every bit as skilled as American writers (in American English), but charge much less because their cost of living is less.

          I've carefully investigated using Philippine writers as an outsource for some of my work. Many have a problem with meeting deadlines, but some are excellent writers who get the product out the door on time.

          HTH

          Vince Runza
          Just to clarify - I wasn't actually implying that the mediocre articles were coming from outwith English speaking countries or those with English as a second language, I think that was something you assumed. I agree with you that there are many excellent writers with English as a second language, in fact especially on Elance.com.

          Beth
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          • Profile picture of the author Sandra Martinez
            I don´t write articles anymore, it doesn´t worth my time.

            Only kept the bigger services running, books, ebooks, research and some tech services.

            All the cheap stuff... let someone else do it.

            I still do banners, ebook covers, simple installs as a present to some clients who need them to complete a project I am in. But that is about it.

            Sandra
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            • Profile picture of the author Eager2SEO
              Ok, here is my rant!

              I think it is very unfortunate how professional skills like writing and computer programming are being depressed and devalued. Is everyone supposed to be an internet marketer writing contrived reviews on information products, CPA offers, and Amazon merchandise? Sending people enticing emails on the latest and greatest money making scheme? Scouring the internet for the absolute lowest bidder to do their work? Is this truly sustainable? Maybe I am missing something. I'm not saying I wouldn't do it, but is it economically viable in the long term?

              Same story exists with programmers too. There are people on fiverr offering two hours of C++ programming for $5, and they claim to have masters degrees in CS (I assume they are foreign). So in essence they work for less than $2/hr after expenses. Maybe that is extreme, but the going rate on Odesk for experienced programmers is under $10/hr, and I bet the actual programmer gets much less because there is an agency or fees involved.

              I tried doing work on Fiverr when it started just to test it out and I ended up practically working for free. One of my clients was a major cellular company. Normally that work would be no less than $100/hr. The manager told me they let many programmers go, and they just troll the outsourcing boards until they get someone good. They said even if they pay a few duds it saves millions over having a staff. The guy told me I did good work but others will work for that amount. I did spend two hours on that job, including a phone call.

              I think the next idea is just to have people working for free - why not make a site called freerr.com.
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              • Profile picture of the author Dave Rodman
                Banned
                Originally Posted by Eager2SEO View Post

                Ok, here is my rant!

                I think it is very unfortunate how professional skills like writing and computer programming are being depressed and devalued. Is everyone supposed to be an internet marketer writing contrived reviews on information products, CPA offers, and Amazon merchandise? Sending people enticing emails on the latest and greatest money making scheme? Scouring the internet for the absolute lowest bidder to do their work? Is this truly sustainable? Maybe I am missing something. I'm not saying I wouldn't do it, but is it economically viable in the long term?

                Same story exists with programmers too. There are people on fiverr offering two hours of C++ programming for $5, and they claim to have masters degrees in CS (I assume they are foreign). So in essence they work for less than $2/hr after expenses. Maybe that is extreme, but the going rate on Odesk for experienced programmers is under $10/hr, and I bet the actual programmer gets much less because there is an agency or fees involved.

                I tried doing work on Fiverr when it started just to test it out and I ended up practically working for free. One of my clients was a major cellular company. Normally that work would be no less than $100/hr. The manager told me they let many programmers go, and they just troll the outsourcing boards until they get someone good. They said even if they pay a few duds it saves millions over having a staff. The guy told me I did good work but others will work for that amount. I did spend two hours on that job, including a phone call.

                I think the next idea is just to have people working for free - why not make a site called freerr.com.
                What writers/programmers need to learn is that you're not going to get the rates you want from someone with no budget. A guy that makes $2/day from Adsense isn't going to pay you $30/article.

                So if you want better rates, go after better clients. My revenue from 2010 is up 20x from my first full year in 2006. And my marketing budget has increased about that much as well. And no, I'm not getting 20x the amount of $10 articles

                Think about it from a budget perspective. Do you really think you're going to get top rates when you're dealing with someone that takes in $12K a year in revenue? Imagine the difference when you're dealing with someone that even takes in $500K in revenue. When you get to that point, you're getting paid for taking something off the business owners hands. You're getting a TRUST premium.

                And don't forget about bundling value-add services (higher margin) together with your product. Also, keep in mind that business owners pay for you to solve problems....even if the product is a commodity. I used to sell paper products to Office Supply Superstores. That's got commodity written all over it. We focused a lot of time on delivery efficiency. When you're delivering your product on time 99% of the time, you get special consideration when you're negotiating rates. There is a premium for service.
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    • I agree with you 100%.

      Since I consider myself to be an entrepreneur who just happens to be an excellent writer, I've really learned to roll with the punches.

      Different markets will bear different pricing structures and as you mentioned, offline will bear a much higher pricing structure than online.

      I won't even offer article writing on the WF because of all the $2 article writers, however all is not lost. There are literally 2 dozen places for a writer to earn decent money online. As soon as you put you creative hat on.
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  • Profile picture of the author NicoleBeckett
    Thanks for bringing up some great points, Vince!

    Yes, there are plenty of people out there who think that writing is a one-size-fits-all thing, where you can just slap a few words together for a few pennies, and move on. However, there are also plenty of people out there who understand the value of good content. You may have to work a little harder to find them (and, of course, give them a good reason to pay you more than just a few pennies), but they are out there.

    It always amazes me how many people think they can get something for nothing, just because they're on the internet. The "real world" doesn't work like that, so why should the world wide web?

    Instead of working for pennies, or trying to change people's minds, go for the clients who understand your true value.
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  • Profile picture of the author Fun to Write
    I agree with you, Vince.

    Each market has different dynamics. I'm currently straddling both the cheaper and higher paying markets. In the cheaper market, I'm competing with all of the above you mentioned. So, in order to remain competitive, I have to lower the price range.

    However, one thing I notice on the writing service boards is that a lot of business people who go there still want good quality. And, they're not always getting it when they focus more on paying the cheapest rate. This is an opportunity for the best writers to show why we are more valuable to them.

    Another tip is that you can partner with a successful SEO firm who has a constant stream of clients. If you can become their preferred "go to" writer, you can get paid at much higher rates, plus always have the work coming to you.

    So, yes, there are different ways to approach both markets.
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    • Originally Posted by Fun to Write View Post

      Another tip is that you can partner with a successful SEO firm who has a constant stream of clients. If you can become their preferred "go to" writer, you can get paid at much higher rates, plus always have the work coming to you.
      This is an excellent point. Web designers, SEO experts and business directory owners often need written content for their clients. If you can build a good working relationship with folks like this, you'll never want for writing clients.

      Plus, you can charge more per hour (or per word) and feel good about it. That's because your real value is being dependable, predictable and reliable, not just a wordsmith.

      Regards,

      Vince Runza
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  • Profile picture of the author Istvan Horvath
    Just to add my two cents...

    It happens the same with other services, too. Among IMers you are expected to make a custom WP theme for $50-100.

    In the "normal" world that's what I used to charge just for one hour consultation to look at your site and your needs

    Of course, I understand when you are setting up 255 quick niche blogs you don't need a theme for $1,000-2,000 and more for each. This is a different market with different expectations and very low prices due to the "mass production".

    If you want a quick buck - market your skills to IMers.

    If you are confident about your skills and value - market to offline big businesses, organizations... and you will see the difference.
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    • Profile picture of the author paulie888
      Originally Posted by Istvan Horvath View Post


      If you want a quick buck - market your skills to IMers.

      If you are confident about your skills and value - market to offline big businesses, organizations... and you will see the difference.
      This is true for just about any services in the IM market. For websites and blogs, when you approach the end user (real world business owners) they're much more likely to see the value in what you do, and as a result you can command far higher prices doing the same blog/site set up work than you would get from the IM market.

      The same thing goes for domains as well. What you'll get flipping a freshly registered domain to an IM domainer will be far less than what you could sell the domain for to an offline business owner.

      Paul
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      • Profile picture of the author Rikki_Fawkes
        That's why I sometimes recommend that the members I coach look on Craigslist for clients. These clients might own online entities, but few of them (that I've run into) are actual IM'ers. They might sell products online and whatnot, but if they're operating an online magazine that focuses less on SEO and more on what readers would look for offline, they pay quite a bit more.
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  • Profile picture of the author Rob Howard
    Part of the problem, from the buyers end, is not just the QUALITY of articles, but it's the ROI.

    For example:

    If I know that it usually takes 2 articles to make one sale, and that one sale is 30 dollars, that's 15 dollars an article.

    This means I could, in theory, buy an article at 14.99 or less and make profit.

    But, I also know that when someone else writes an article for me, I make far less - because of many factors: not fully understanding the niche, not knowing how to write converting articles, etc.

    This means it makes more sense for me to actually hire, full time, a great writer who I can train in style of writing, good copy skills, and familiarity with the niche I'm in.

    Since you mention the Philippines, you are right...there are tons of great, trainable writers there.

    However, with all that said... if you want to separate yourself from the rest: Become a master of Copywriting, not just article writing.

    Get really good at writing articles that gets huge clicks and buyers. Test techniques on yourself and then SELL that skill hard.

    Many people will pay a PREMIUM if you can write kickass articles that gets high CTR's and conversions.

    "I'm not just an article writer, I'm a copywriter...look at these clicks and conversions".


    Hope this helps!

    Rob
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  • Profile picture of the author Eduard
    I think the field of writing is getting extremelly crowded and it certainty is a challenge to find well paid writing work.

    On the other hand, there are still many sites, blogs, magazines that are looking for high quality writing and they're willing to pay for it. If you can meet their standards and you know how to ask for the pay you deserve, it's game on. I know people who make a good living from writing and they always target high-class writing opportunities.

    Sure, there are millions of people who can write average content for any of those huge sites just looking for a tone of content, but not everybody can write for the NY Times.
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  • Profile picture of the author Sardent
    Originally Posted by Chris Kent View Post

    What's wrong with that?
    What's wrong with that is that it presupposes that they can actually write.

    There are people on this forum, apparently making quite a living writing articles who, IMHO, I wouldn't buy from if the price were ten articles for a penny.

    Just asking for samples is a wild ride that leaves me wondering if anyone anywhere else in the world actually speaks English. Even the US.
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  • Originally Posted by Chris Kent View Post

    Originally Posted by Vince Runza Online View Post

    many idiots suggesting that IM newbies get their start writing articles
    What's wrong with that?
    Writing is more than just stringing words together. Many of us that have writing talent exchange back-channel swipes at "article writers" who have no business writing for others (or even themselves)!
    Originally Posted by Chris Kent View Post

    Otherwise I agree with you. Don't sell yourself short. Aim higher.

    Having said that, I believe that few people can justify a higher rate. The number of good writers out there who are in the IM world is abysmal. And I'm talking here about those for whom English is their first, and often only, language.
    Exactly! There are Third World writers out there that have a command of English (American and otherwise) that would put to shame many of our esteemed colleagues who are marketers first, writers second!
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  • Profile picture of the author leuven6
    I agree with the points, but no offense there is also plenty of expensive writers their isnt worth a dime
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  • Profile picture of the author tdpubs
    I work with off-line clients a lot. When I first started writing articles for the Internet marketing crowd I was amazed at the prices people were charging for the service. While I understood the price point issue along with the return on investment, I quickly realized that there was no way I could turn out the same kind of work for IM clients that I do for my off-line business owners. I think many new article writers quickly burn out on trying to churn out 20 or 30 articles for "MacDonald's" wages.
    Although there is a need for $2-$5 article, those rates can't sustain the average lifestyle in a developed country.
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  • Profile picture of the author good2go4
    A lot of my students are saying how much harder it is to write for clients than they imagined it would be - what a lot of people who do rush into writing need to understand is that it can be stressful; it is hard work and you do have to price yourself competitively at least in the first instance, so that you can get the work. Unfortunately some of my students come onto the course thinking that it will be easy and that they can make a fortune; but basically ghostwriting is a job just like any other.

    That said, I do tell my students to compete on value rather than price. If you quote a certain price for a job then you should show that you are worth that price. Sure you won't get as many clients as the $2 an article writer; but you will get some good ones over time - and they are the ones worth having.

    My 2 cents
    Lisa
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  • Profile picture of the author Audrey Harvey
    I agree with the OP, there are plenty of places where you can earn a decent rate for your work, if you're good.

    I can see it from the other side too. For those in IM who aren't yet making much of an income, they aren't likely to be able to pay more than $5 an article. That's just the way it is. If they haven't got the money, they just can't pay it. Fact of life.
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  • Profile picture of the author Mikey D
    To put it in perspective, local newspapers here pay 5-10 cents per word, depending on the company and subject matter. They are only willing to pay more if you're doing some massive research on digging up some dirt.
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    • I just read a similar thread on one of the forums (I can find the link if you're interested, it was quite fascinating). A writer was complaining bitterly about cheap competition; you could feel the frustration of not being able to match their rates.

      And someone responded, saying that it sounds like a restaurant owner lamenting that McDonalds is stealing his clients.
      Made me think, you know...
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  • Profile picture of the author Jayzee
    This thread has gr8 info! Thanx everyone
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