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Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Not even minimum wage? Revisiting the lower per word rate myth...Ready...Set...Go!

The clock on my desk just switched to 12:14 p.m.

That's important, because we are talking about the hourly equivalent of per word rates. I recently came across a discussion at the profanely-named F**k That Job! website from back in 2005.

The poster noted an advertisement offering $10 per article for short (300-400) word pieces on home mortgages. It was a fairly straightforward advertisement for a freelance content writer. The poster asked, "Can any writers out there estimate the minimum time it would take to write a 300-400 word article?" under the heading, "THIS HAS GOT TO BE UNDER MINIMUM WAGE."

A series of commenters responded. One copywriter claimed he/she wouldn't touch a project for under $1 per word unless it was a charity case. Another called it "exploitation" and said it made her "barf."

Here we go again--the old argument about rates. The comments in response to the post were all negative about the 3+ cent/word offer. No one thought that was a fair wage to pen some basic articles on mortgages.

And they were wrong. Again. Look, for 3+/cents per word, you will not find a former mortgage banker willing to provide an insightful examination of the future of ARM loans in 400 words. However, you can and will find good content writers who are more than capable of generating decent material providing factually accurate and interesting information on mortgage topics.

Those who claim the rates are insulting simply do not understand they buyer's expectations of the probable intended use of the article.

Congratulations to the dollar/word copywriter. Sorry for the upset stomach to the other writer. Oh, and the comedian who sarcastically commented that he/she could move his whole family to Miami on that "$60-$80 a year" job, might want to pull out his/her calculator.

This blog post weighs in at well over 300 words right now. That clock on the corner of my desk says it is now 12:19.

5 minutes. 300 words. $10.
That's $120/hr.
Chop it in half if you don't type fast and you're still at $60/hr.
Even if you cut it in half again, it's still $30/hr.
Hell, cut it in once again. $15/hr. still beats many jobs out there in the traditional workforce.

In the interest of honesty, I was able to write this post because I already know the topic area and have a viewpoint. I would probably have to do a little background reading to get up to speed on the mortgage articles. However, I am certain the hourly equivalent would still exceed $25/hr.

Of course, earning a buck per word would be even better. However, in order to secure that gig, how much time will one have to spend self-marketing and querying? How much longer will he or she need to spend on the actual piece? You get the idea.

Quality? Well, I can't claim this post will win a Pulitzer, but I can tell you a few things... First of all, it was good enough to keep you reading (here you are). Second, it did address a specific topic and provided some information and opinion that you might not find elsewhere. Third, although it was written for a blog in a conversational manner, it still retained a relatively high level of readability even though it might need some proofreading.

No matter how you slice it, 3+ cents/word for some keyword rich content comes out to far more than minimum wage.

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