Wondering what a good content writer will cost you? Probably more than you think. Look past word count and start looking at results to see why lowball rates don't just hurt writers. They hurt clients, too.

What would you pay to get 1,000 targeted, engaged visitors to your business's website?

3,000 visitors?


If you're talking ads on the Google Search Network, your cost per click will vary greatly by industry and keyword, but you'll probably pay somewhere in the neighborhood of $3 per click on average. That's $3,000 per 1,000 visitors to your site.

Or $9,000 for 3,000 visitors. Or $30,000 for 10,000. And so on.

And what about old media?

According to FitSmallBusiness, the cost for a standard order of 28 billboards throughout Atlanta, Georgia for one year would be approximately $2,500 per billboard per month (or a yearly total of $840k).

That's a whole lot of impressions, sure, but for nearly a million dollars!

So here's the next question.

What if you could get similar results from a truly exceptional blog post or other piece of branded content?

What would it be worth to you?

I ask because I got an email the other day with a freelance copywriting lead. The guy was super polite and professional. He just needed someone to help write articles on a certain topic. He'd provide the outline, he said, and most of the research, then the writer would assemble everything within a 12 hour turnaround time.

The pay was $5 per 1,000 words, or half a cent per word.

Needless to say, I told him it wasn't a good fit.

Here's why:

If a content strategist and/or writer does his job well, his content will bring in engaged traffic for your site for years to come.

This is one of my favorite examples, from a client I worked with at my agency job. Here's a screenshot of blog pageviews from January to April 22, 2015. Note early on in the year, the client's getting NOTHING. Maybe a handful of blog visits a day.

Then as the content we're publishing for them starts to gain traction (and one post in particular starts to hit it big with Google), you see the acceleration.

We stopped writing and publishing new stuff for this client in March. But the work we did continues to build on itself, to the point where the blog now gets 100-150 visits a day. This is by no means a raging, epic success story. On the contrary. It's not all that rare at all for quality work. In this case, our signature content piece here has been viewed over 3,000 times since January.

Here's another, even better one. This client started off in a slightly better place, but again was boosted into a new stratosphere by one well-timed, exceptional piece of content.

That one signature piece has been viewed over 80,000 times since it was published back in November 2014. Not to mention the dozens of over posts and articles that are bringing in diverse but interested users.

No outreach. No link-building. Just great strategy and awesome content.

(For giggles, here's a screenshot of my own site's traffic over the past 8 months or so. I cut the numbers, but you can see the steady growth that happens when you nail down a solid strategy and commit to writing quality stuff. What's beautiful about this approach is that I could choose to do nothing over the next three months and continue to get a pretty steady amount of traffic, new users, and email list sign-ups. Unlike ads that you have to continue to pay for.)

Okay. Now forget everything I just told you.

How much do you think a 1,000 word article is worth?

A cent per word? Two?

$50? $100?

Now, flip the thinking... how much do you think 3,000 visits to your site are worth? Or 80,000?

I'm betting there's a big difference in the numbers that result from those two approaches.

There shouldn't be.

I know, I know. You're never going to pay a writer $3,000 to write an article for your company's blog. I get that.

I'm not saying you should.

But maybe it's time to start viewing content as a larger investment. How would you budget differently knowing that, if you've chosen the right writer, the content will continue to pay dividends for months or even years down the road?

The bottom line is that we need to start paying writers more.

No, not because writers deserve it. Or because it's the right thing to do.

But because the work a good writer can do is worth it.

And the problem for website and small business owners is that, by lowballing writers, you're chaining yourself to the basement of SEO content. Keyword-stuffed nonsense that has no measurable impact on your business.

And it's impossible to get anything much better than that garbage if you're intent on pinching your pennies.

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