Pricing a content vendor can get complicated.
You want the most bang for your buck. But you also don’t want to go cheap because, well, you’ll get cheap results.
That’s because the work we do as creatives isn’t mere “labor” in the traditional sense. Content writing, and copywriting for that matter, isn’t about following a template or mass producing words.
Think about your own role. Startup founders – and, sometimes, early stage marketing leaders – aren’t merely compensated just for the hours you put in every day.
That’s because you aren’t an automaton. You work involves strategic and critical thinking that requires that you provide creative solutions to the problems you face. Your compensation reflects that.
Creative workers are the same way. We’re problem solvers. Among the many things we do, we:
- Figure out a problem your customers are facing and present a solution
- Identify the questions along their buyer’s journey and guiding them toward your product
- Present your company’s brand in a way that’s engaging and speaks to their specific needs
- Always find ways to help customers through the content we create
Content creation & marketing aren’t mindless jobs where you can underpay and get the results you’re looking for.
But on the other hand, just because someone is super expensive doesn’t mean they’re the right fit. This is especially relevant when you’re considering working with an agency.
No matter what option you end up deciding to go with, here are five things you’ll definitely want to consider when pricing a content vendor.
1. You get what you pay for.
It’s a cliche because it’s true. With a higher price tag comes more expertise and, thus, higher expectations of quality.
But if you hire a copy mill that only charges pennies-per-word, you’ll end up with content that:
- Isn’t helpful to your audience
- Doesn’t align with your brand’s voice, style, or tone
- Is detrimental to your brand and reputation
When you don’t invest in the creative talent needed to take your business to the next level, not surprisingly, your business won’t go to the next level.
2. You’re paying not only for labor, but expertise.
I’ve heard it said before that when you pay someone, you’re not just paying for the hour, but the value they bring to that hour.
The same applies to your content vendors. You aren’t paying for the words, but the intentionality and relevance those words have to your audience. There’s a lot more that goes into content writing than what you see on the page, but is essential to well written content.
Even if you decide to pay by the hour, you can’t simply pay for writing or recording time. Outlining, research, editing, optimizing: these are all critical steps in content creation that take time and, thus, are going to cost you.
3. You’re paying for a vested interest in your company.
Your content pieces are the “front lines” of your business. They’re often where your customers are going to first come into contact with you. Someone who’s invested in the success of your company is going to create better and more useful content.
When it comes time to go the extra mile, consider this: which client are they going to be quicker to help?
Probably the one who gives them the most business. So pay them accordingly.
4. You want to keep your vendor over the long term.
A content marketer goes where the work is. But they stay where the money is.
Once you’ve acquainted a vendor with your brand, starting that process over again seems like it would be a waste. When you pay them with the long term in mind, you alleviate a key concern in the vendor’s mind: Is this worth it?
Remember that this is a relationship. You should be pleased with their work, yes, but they should also want to continue working with you.
Of course, this consideration is predicated on the first three being true. You only want to keep a vendor over the long term if they’re providing the value, expertise, and vested interest you need.
But once those have been met, make sure you pay them with the long term in mind.
5. You want to maximize your return on investment
All of the previous four considerations all point to the one that ultimately matters: maximizing your return on investment. Ultimately, if you’re going to pay a content vendor what they’re worth, you need to see a return on that investment.
One way is to evaluate whether your content writer is producing content that hits the leading indicators of revenue generation. This requires clear expectations and your involvement in the editing process.
Another way, and perhaps this more under your control, is to build a content strategy that guides the content production process toward revenue generation.
The more you focus on generating revenue through your content, the quicker you’ll see the ROI, which means the sooner you can see the growth that you’re looking for.