As a partner at a copywriting agency, one of my key responsibilities is pricing projects. I spend a lot of time speaking with people, learning about their copywriting needs and then writing proposals.
Sometimes a prospect won’t have the budget to hire us. I get that. We’re a small business, and we don’t have the budget to do a lot of things we’d love to do either (e.g. you won’t be seeing a Super Bowl ad for The Hired Pens anytime soon).
But here’s a scenario that annoys me: A prospect contacts us to discuss writing for his company’s blog. He needs 20 posts a month. They should each be around 450 words, and they’ll require original research. I give it some thought and then send him a proposal. His response:
“What? This is ridiculous. Another writer said she’d do it for $12 apiece.”
Let’s Consider That Number for a Minute
How long do you think it takes to research and write a high-quality blog post? One hour? That’s very fast, but okay. That comes to $12 an hour. Need to do a little research and/or an interview? You could easily be looking at three hours — i.e. a $4 hourly rate.
Who’s willing to work for $4 an hour? Most likely, some dude in rural India or a kid who just graduated from high school. And if you happen to find an experienced writer who’s willing to work for that kind of rate, then good for you. (Seriously, that’s a hell of a deal.)
Underestimating the Value of Blog Writing
Here’s a little story: At a conference last fall, I caught a talk by Marcus Sheridan, co-owner of the swimming pool company River Pools. He shared a legendary case study that really drives home the value of blogging.
When River Pools was struggling back in 2009, company leadership decided to shift its focus from radio/TV/pay-per-click advertising to content marketing. Writing educational blog posts was central to this strategy.
During his presentation, Marcus described a simple post he wrote on heat pumps for swimming. While it wasn’t even particularly well-written, it did provide specific, valuable information that was hard to find elsewhere. He credits that post and ensuing posts with establishing River Pools as a trusted source within the industry, attracting prospects who became customers and, ultimately, saving the company.
Rethinking Your Blog Budget
Many people make the mistake of seeing blog posts as temporary. You post something one day, and then it gradually gets buried as you write new posts over time. It’s not worth paying for something that will just go away, right? Wrong.
Just like diamonds, blog posts are forever. If you do things right, they can continue to drive traffic to your site for years to come. And that’s worth a lot more than $12 a pop.
(One more note: HubSpot has a nice post on creating blog posts with lasting value. Learn about optimizing titles and meta descriptions, and being strategic about keyword focus.)