When I started outsourcing some of my content writing, back in the early days of my business — less than a year into it, in fact — I put out a call to find a writer who could help me with over a hundred 150-word pieces. That’s 15,000+ words.
I got multiple offers, ranging from the out-of-my-budget and the would-cost-more-than-I’m-making rates to the ‘do you WANT to live on the streets?’ rates.
No kidding, somebody — let’s call her Rosemary, because that’s what I wanted to be called when I was a kid — actually said they would do the work for $60, which is roughly £40. That’s not even a penny per word. In fact, it’s barely even ha’penny per word. Wait, did I do my maths wrong? Maybe it’s not even THAT much. Anyway, point is: £40 for 15,000 words is nothing. And by ‘nothing’, I mean ‘you’ll wish you had literally offered to do the work for nothing, because at least then you could quit halfway through without worrying’.
Imagine how many hours it would take you to write over a hundred individual pieces of 150 words each. It’s not even as though you could write one long rambling piece that would only require one batch of research. No: you’d have to do over a hundred individual, tiny bits of research.
Now, I can easily bang out 500 words in quarter of an hour. Easily. But that’s with zero research. That’s just writing about stuff that’s already jangling around inside my head. But even if I could write those 100+ pieces at the same speed, I’d still only end up with £5.33 per hour. Oh, and let’s not forget time to edit and proofread. Better bring that down to £4 an hour, just in case.
But actually, there’s no way I could write 15,000 words on unknown subjects that fast — in a total of 7.5 hours — and find the time to edit and proofread them. No fucking way. I’d go insane if I tried. It would maybe take twice as long. So that’s £2 an hour. And now I’m starting to wonder if I’d be better off taking part in one of those government ‘back to work’ schemes that pay something scandalous like £2.50 an hour.
So, the question: How many clients do you think would JUMP at the chance to hire somebody to write 15,000 words for them for £40? Probably a lot, right? Well, yeah. To be honest, there probably are a lot of people who’d be ecstatic to find somebody to write that cheaply for them. But the thing you must remember about those guys is that they wouldn’t know what value looked like if it stuck a cucumber up their ass.
Do you know what I told Rosemary? I told her that she would go crazy if she tried to write all these pieces for me for £40. On my part, I was concerned that she would do a shitty job or just quit partway through. So I told her to come back to me with a higher number. Here’s what she said:
(To clarify, the ‘120 is a lot’ remark was referring to the number of articles.)
The thing you must remember is that there are many others like me: people who WOULDN’T WANT to pay such a ridiculously low rate for something. Not only would they be willing to pay more than that — they’d actively want to, because they understand value. Those are the people worth working with. (Pretty sure I just complimented myself.)
And here’s my final hint of the day: You won’t find those clients on oDesk, as Rosemary so kindly pointed out.