PRICING IN THE CONTENT, PR & COMMUNICATIONS SPACE
By: Sharlyn Carrington
Many have asked me the past few weeks about pricing in the content, PR, and communications industry. It can be very confusing understanding what you’re paying for, and what reasonable fees are.
Are you planning on working with an agency and are they big or small with significant overhead?
Are you planning on working with a freelancer, and how much experience does that freelancer have?
Generally content marketing firms can charge anywhere between $3,000–$10,000 a month for a variety of services, but it really depends on what services your business requires. Similarly, if you’re in talks with a freelancer, their fees are commensurate with years of experience and expertise, as well the length of time it will take them to deliver quality products.
I’ve pulled together a glimpse of the industry costs for professional level (7-15 years experience) writing, content, public relations and strategy services from various sources to help you determine what costs are reasonable for your business.
Freelance writers and communicators are generally flexible in how they charge. Some charge by the word, some by the hour and others prefer a hybrid approach based on the project. Multiple sources confirm professional freelancers (those with 7 plus years of experience) can charge between $81 and $100 an hour. Generally, among the highest hourly rates round out to about $182, median rates are about $80 an hour, while low rates are $30 an hour. You should consider the quality of product you are going to get for a freelancer who is only charging $30 an hour for their services. When you hire a any contractor, you want to feel confident they will deliver quality products on the first try, needing minimal revisions. The less time you spend handholding, is the more time you can spend building your business.
I have an entire post planned about the importance of content strategies, so I won’t get into that here. What I will say is quality content is important (see a blog post about that here). Creating quality content doesn’t happen in the blink of an eye, you want to know that every blog post, sales email, web page, letter, speech, press release, FAQ etc. has a purpose and is achieving its purpose as determined by your overall content and communications strategy.
As a small business owner, you may not know what a content or communications strategy looks like, and you may have no idea how to create one. And that’s okay. But many businesses can’t spend the time and energy to put one together on their own. These strategies are truly a labour of love. They take extensive research and even the most knowledgeable strategists take hours pulling them together. In fact, strategists like me are always thinking about their plans and refining. Often, I’m planning solutions to hurdles and thinking about innovative ways to reach audiences despite budget constraints, as I run errands, or am putting my child to bed. Similarly, doing extensive research also requires specific and sometimes expensive tools to be effective. That’s why these strategies aren’t cheap.
Needless to say, content strategy costs vary tremendously, and not every freelancer or agency offers the same service. Some big agencies charge over $25,000 for a strategy, and others will do quick content audits plus limited research and charge a couple of hundred dollars. More generous, and I’d say more reasonable, companies charge around $2,500 for keyword research and an analysis of their clients’ competitors. Make sure you are clear with your agency or contractor exactly what services they provide. This will give you a better sense whether their fees are reasonable.
Industry standard for blog posts demonstrate a large range once again, between 20 to 75 cents a word. Normally, a 2,000-word blog can take six or seven hours to write including research and revisions. At an average price it could cost about $940 for a post of this length based on charges per word count.
Social media content costs can vary based on the services your business requires. Some agencies conduct monthly maintenance, updates, monitoring, posting, graphic creation and/or storyboarding. This means costs range anywhere from $250 to $5,000 per month based on frequency of posting and the number of social channels.
In addition to simply generating organic content, social media marketing is an additional price. These costs can be significantly higher, depending on your intended reach, your channels, and how aggressive your overall marketing strategy is. This can run anywhere from $1,000 to $20,000 a month.
Typically, core web pages start at $500 per page, and landing pages around $750 per page. Many freelancers charge from $1 to $5 a word. Others offer packages that provide all the content you need at a cheaper rate, many with minimum projects requirements of $1000, and charge additional fees for updates upon request.
Are you noticing a theme?
Freelancers usually charge per word and add additional fees based on their client’s distribution needs. Generally, you should expect to pay somewhere between about $500 and $2,500. This may sound expensive but, consider the amount of time and research that may be required to formulate the release. Also consider the time it may take to pitch a journalist, upload content through a distribution service, and/or create targeted media and influencer lists with personalized messaging. What you’re paying for is not only the time commitment, you’re also paying for the skill it takes to write a well-organized, clear and attention-getting story that attracts reporters.
Industry prices vary. You should be looking for value, but you should also be looking for someone with experience and expertise. Don’t get caught up paying for the most expensive service, particularly if you’re a small business that doesn’t overly complicated products.
On the other hand, choosing the cheapest rate can, and most likely will, come back to haunt you. You pay for what you get. Don’t expect to get amazing quality for nothing. Generating high quality content and communications is a skill that required likely years of training, experience, and strategy. Choose to work with someone who can quickly and expertly develop content that showcases your brand, voice and values.
There’s lot of research on pricing available. Check out some of the sources I drew from below.