Paying Freelancers By The Word Is A Mistake

There’s more to good content than typing words into a document. Good writing is succinct. This article is only 254 words—but it punches.

This article was conceptualized by Ryan, written by Bridgett, and edited by Pitsh.

Bridgett is a Pitsh freelance writer from Maine. When she isn’t writing about B2B Marketing, she loves to act, create art, and explore new places.

Pricing freelance writing is tricky.

Freelancers often ask for payment by the word. A 1,000-word article should be double the price of a 500-word article, right?

Not so fast. There’s more to good content than typing words into a document.

A clever writer can abuse by-the-word payments by adding superfluous language and meaningless additional words, purely to maximize their payout while contributing nothing of value.

But good writing is succinct.

It’s much harder to be concise than it is to be verbose. An 800-word document is rarely any better than a 730-word document. Why should it cost 10% more?

Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address was only 272 words. Yet it’s one of the most influential and powerful documents in American history. You can create an impact with less.

All paragraphs are not created equal

So don’t mess up your incentives. A per-word formula tells freelancers to “pack as much in as possible.” But a size-range, with length optimized for purpose, puts the focus on writing that has an impact.

The hardest part of writing is knowing what to put in and what to leave out. Remember: “A designer’s work isn’t done when there is nothing more to add; a designer’s work is done when there is nothing more to take away.”

So don’t force a specific quota. If the clearest way to say what you mean takes 300 words, it takes 300 words. Don’t repeat yourself to get to 3,000.

Your job is to create content that resonates, informs, or converts. Your job is not to fill a page.

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