SEO Writing Rates: How to Determine What to Charge as an Online Writer

In preparation for Freelance Writer’s Technology Month, I spent a solid week doing research into how to really make money online. It was eye opening on several levels. One of the areas I read about in great deal was content development. Of course, this covered article marketing. What I found surprised me to a certain degree.

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2017 Update:  How & Why SEO Writing Rates Have Changed

This post was published on Nov 26, 2007. It was just around the time I started my SEO writing career. Thanks to the advent of content marketing, rates have gone up. In my experience and opinion, $35 to $50 is somewhat bottom-of-the-barrel rates for 500-600 word articles nowadats.

Also, content marketing agencies (aka digital marketing agencies, SEO firms) have sprung up like weeds — hundredss of them. Many of them pay $50 to $150 or more for 500-750 word articles.

And so-called, content mills (eg, Upwork) are even getting in on the “better-paying” action. While low-paying, sucky jobs can still be found on them – lots of them — there are also good-paying ones to be found. Why the change?

In my opinion, it’s because content marketing dominates now. According to online marketing experts, over 80% of consumers conduct some form of research before making a purchase.

Where do they start their searches? Six in 10 of them — online. What are they looking for? Reviews, testimonials, white papers, case studies, product descriptions, etc. ANY information to help them become more informed so they can make a better buying decision. Who provides a lot of this content? Freelance writers.

While a lot of the information in the post below is still relevant today, keep the updated information above in mind, ok?

A 10-Year Look Back: What to Charge for SEO Content Writing

FYI, this is Part #8 of Freelance Writer’s Technology Month.

SEO Content Writing: No Longer Bottom-of-the-Barrel Rates?

It seems that we are slowly emerging from the days where website developers want to pay bottom of the barrel rates for content.

Many of them are wising up to the fact that in order to make money online, you have to have good, well-written, unique content that provides solid information.

Guess what? This means paying skilled writers. This is good news for those freelance writers who may have discarded article writing as a niche they’d write in.

Freelance writer and blogger Jennifer over at CatalystBlogger.com gives five reasons in her 10/8/07 post a freelance writer might want to consider taking on these types of projects.

While you will still find ads on those bid-for-pay sites wanting to pay $100 for 50 articles, they are quickly becoming a thing of the past. So, how much should you charge as an SEO article writer?

How to Determine What to Charge as an SEO Content Writer

Following is what my research revealed about SEO article writing rates.

Note: I specifically did not choose stats from bid-for-pay sites, as I don’t think they’re a true indicator of what SEO article writers can get for their work.

$2-$25 Per Article: The blogger at WriteNonsense had this to say about SEO article writing rates: “SEO articles can go for anything from $2 to $25 each or more, but most of us seem to find ourselves working on the bottom end of this scale. Like any other industry, web content writing has vast earnings disparity. So what makes some article writers well paid, and others not?” [Source: WriteNonsense.blogspot.com]

.02 Cents Per Word: This post was found on SEO1.net’s forum in response to a poster’s request for an SEO article writer: “I can write seo related articles for you if you want, you can see example at estebanpanzera.com all blog posts there were written by me, I would charge $0.02 per word.”

This works out to $10 for a 500-word article (a common length for an SEO article).

$5-$15 Per Article: On the other side of the coin is a website owner proposing a rate to SEO article writers. The following ad was found in DigitalPoint.com’s forum. It read, “I am in need of SEO articles. About 20-50. Willing to pay up to $15 Per Article. Must be completely unique and accurate to SEO. Will check copyscape for verification. Post your work here and PM with price.”

The article length requested was a minimum of 400 words.

$10-$20 Per Article: The rate depends on the article length, as outlined below.

This listing was taken from the forum at DaniWeb.com, a networking site for web developers, internet marketers, software developers, etc. Company placed an ad with the following prices listed.

The ad read in part, “We are a US/UK company [specializing] in keyword-rich articles and content. All our articles are unique and written to your own specification.; all of our writers being based in the UK & US, their first language English. We do not use offshore writers.”

Rates: Up to 250 words, $10 per article; 250 – 400 words, $13 per article; 400 – 600 words, $15 per article; 600 – 800 words, $18 per article; 800 – 1000 words, $20 per article.

FYI, as I wrote in the article 5 Ways to Get a Job Writing SEO Articles, forum lurking is a great way to find SEO writing gigs – and find out about going rates.

As you can see from these examples, SEO article writing rates are all over the place. This is true in every other aspect of freelance writing as well, so you’ll have to find what works for you.

Why SEO Writing Is the Next “Hot” Thing for Freelance Writers

Rate Tip:  I spoke with two SEO specialists about rates. One was a marketing director for a major marketing firm; the other runs an online SEO company.

The owner of the SEO company told me that he pays writers half of what he bills clients. And, his rates were above what most SEO content buyers pay. For example, the least you could make was $10 with is firm because he charged clients a minimum of $20 for a 400-600 word article.

His firm offered a multitude of services, eg, web content in HTML format, web content in MS Word format, blogging, forum posting, etc.

Each service had different prices, eg, delivering content in HTML format paid from $25-$50/page; blogging pays from $100-$150/month for daily posting (250-400 word posts); premium article development paid $20/article. Premium article development included researching, editing and fine-tuning articles for clients.

The owner of this firm told me also that his clients rarely ordered less than 10 articles, and that quite a few of them ordered articles by the thousand. Eg, he had one client who had ordered 1,000 articles for three months running.

The marketing director told me that they routinely give new writers a chance because they have such a need for fresh content across a variety of spectrums, and that it was difficult to find good, dependable writers. I sent them my rate card, along with my areas of specialty and a few samples. They were impressed and have a couple of projects they want to send my way.

My point in relaying all of this is that there are a wealth of opportunities in SEO content development. And, in my opinion, this field is only going to expand. I also believe that rates will go up, for two reasons:

Why SEO Writing Rates Are Going Up

a) Burnout: The two industry specialists told me that they have a hard time finding dependable writers. I think this is because rates are so low. Sure, someone may take on a few projects for $3, $4 or $5 an article.

But eventually, they are going to get tired of working for such low rates and move on after figuring out that “Yeah, I may be able to make a living writing for such low rates, but I don’t want to have to work 14, 15 or 16 hours a day to make a decent living.”

b) Industry Maturity: This all starts with the web surfers, ie, people who go online to search for information. Once they start skipping over those sites that are obviously there to sell something — eg, those sites with one badly written article and 20 ads urging them to buy something – those website owners will see a decline in revenue and disappear from the web altogether.

Also, search engines like Google are starting to get hip to these types of sites and are banning them altogether. All of this means that sites with relevant, meaningful, well-written content will rise to the top.

And, to get relevant, meaningful, well-written content, web entrepreneurs are eventually going to realize that they have to pay writers a decent rate. No skilled writer is going to slave over a detailed, well-put-together 500 or 600-word article, and sell it for $4.

The marketing director at the marketing firm told me that they find it very hard to find skilled, dependable writers.

In spite of what many think, good writing is a skill. And, not everyone can do it. I’ve surfed a lot of forums lately, and have been pleasantly surprised at the number of website owners who say they’d gladly pay more for good writing.

Now, don’t get me wrong, many are almost always willing to give a lowballer a shot; but, many lamented how disappointed they were in the quality of writing from some of the lowballers and that it simply wasn’t worth their time to outsource major content writing needs because they couldn’t depend on consistent quality, ie, the first one or two pieces would be fine, but the quality of the writing would fall off at a certain point.

At $4/article, is this not to be expected?

How to Succeed as a SEO Copywriter

It’s those writers who realize the value they bring to clients who will succeed in this SEO game. And, as it’s a relatively new genre, the field is wide open for those writers who: i) realize their talent; ii) price it correctly; and iii) learn how to market it effectively.

P.S.: Following is a link to every post in the Freelance Writer’s Technology Month series.
Intro Post: New Series – Freelance Writer’s Technology Month
Post #1: The 4 Fundamentals of Making Money Online
Post #2: SEO Content Development: How to Drive More Traffic to Your Website
Post #3: Niche Marketing: How to Choose a Profitable Niche
Post #4: Software Tools for Niche Websites
Post #5: Turn $1/Day into an Online Empire: How to Make Money with Minisites
Post #6: 4 Controversial Ways to Get More Traffic for Your Website
Post #7: 5 Ways to Get a Job Writing SEO Articles
Post #8: How to Determine What to Charge as an SEO Article Writer
Post #9: How to Optimize Your Website to Get More Traffic
Post #10: Social Bookmarking Software & 9 Money-Making Conclusions from Freelance Writer’s Technology Month

BTW, if you found this post helpful, please share it on Pinterest. Thanks!

P.P.S.: Here’s an Almost Fail-Proof Way to Start a Freelance Writing Career

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    1. People are certainly willing to spend more money on content nowadays, but – and hopefully this is obvious – you’ve gotta bring the quality to justify the cost. People want good content if they’re going to be using it for content marketing – filler content won’t cut it 😉

    2. I have officially found a new home. I just started freelance writing two weeks ago. Now, I can see all the questions I started to form can be found here.
      Great site 🙂

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