What Price Biz-Blogging? Deciding What To Charge

Deciding what to charge your business clients for blogging is a really tough call. If you’re new to blogging or copywriting, you’re probably not ready. But even if I’m mistaken about that, bizblogging still has a ways to go before it gains enough respect to pay well. Brian Clark has some wise advice about valuing your work in his response to TCWriter (whose comment I vaulted off of earlier when discussing why companies should have a blog).

While I agree with Brian that you should not undervalue your bizblogging, it may be tough for a while to ask the same kind of writing rates that you can get for print projects. Big companies may not yet value blogging, and small businesses can’t afford to pay a lot.

So what do you do? Well, if anyone is doing corporate blogging for $5/post, I’m sorry but you’re an idiot. You’re better off doing the $5/post thing for a network, because the amount of research is generally a lot less.

So what should you charge? Hmmm. Hard to answer. Depends on your skills, experience, the company and the actual work involved. Freelance writers starting out go through the same issues. I could tell you what I’d charge for corporate blogging, but it would probably be meaningless to you.

While I have been a well-paid technical writer in the past, I never made the $10,000-$20,000 per project that some copywriters do. Except for a consulting stint in Atlanta, Georgia, which also involved some programming and webmastering.

And there’s the rub. Please feel more than free to disagree, but you should offer a package. I would not accept a corporate blogging gig of less than 15-25 posts per week, plus some other services. Offer a package of services – not just blogging – and filter out non-serious businesses by setting a minimum project amount that you would do. This way, there’s less chance that you are undervaluing your work, as Brian has suggested. And yeah, ask for options or shares in the company.

Note: My only exception to any of this is if I was helping out a friend’s small biz.

17 thoughts on “What Price Biz-Blogging? Deciding What To Charge

  1. Exactly. So when trying to pitch a potential client, think in terms of their viewpoint. Maybe despite having a website, they are not actually doing business online. And maybe doing so might in fact increase their revenue opportunities with minimum extra effort.

    Look at Woot.com for example. If I understand correctly, they were (still are) an electronics store, and started the website as a way to clear some backroom stock. They became a phenomena with their catablog.

    Can you come up with something innovative like that? Capture some of the essence of it – without giving too much away before the deal’s done – and indicate in concrete terms (as Ahmed has said elsewhere) what business stands to gain.

  2. It reminds me about Charlene Li of Forrester saying that their blog has triggered 5,000 percent ROI for the company last year. She posted a follow up later that it was not about the math, but more about PR — you know it exists but can be tricky to quantify.

    Even if the main goal is about ROI, Charlene’s data may not be that impressive, given that it failed to include human resource and other factors into the equation.

    And if what they want is more traffic, which results in more leads, selling them with how blogging allows the company to easly manage projects may not be appropriate.

    So yes, it is about packaging and value.

    And Raj, I agree wholeheartedly when you suggested to filter out businesses.

    A business who was sold because of the value and benefits of the work are more than willing to pay higher price compared to one who wasn’t too sure. Surprisingly, the latter — often paying much less — will be more likely to cause problems.

  3. CRM done right can turn a company around (believe me), done wrong it is just another toilet to flush your budget. At worse can cause harm. This is no different from great advertising making a measurable improvement to bottom line and bad advertising winning awards in glamorous locations but not being noticed by customers. “Great ad, really funny … what were they selling?”

  4. @Rob: Great advice. “New Media PR Consultancy”. I really like that. Hmmm. Time to get new business cards

    @Chris: Agreed. There should be a distinction between blogging services and (copy)writing services. They are two different types of writing.

    @Brian: What you said

    @Wangarific: Too true. How do you measure the effectiveness of writing? Web metrics/ analytics, of course. But how many bloggers are well-schooled in that? So if you don’t have the skills, consider teaming up with someone who does. Though you have to somehow convey the ROI (Return on Investment) to the client, as proof of your abilities, or demonstrate the ROI of your past clients.

    @TCWriter: Yeah, CRM consulting sometimes strikes me in the same negative way as when I hear about consulting companies charging $500/hr then sending out their green recruits with no skills, who they’re paying $19/hr for.

  5. CRM’s a pet peeve. I had to take powerful, illegal mood elevators just to write this post.

    CRM’s a great case study in corporate stupidity. Start with a reasonable concept, then watch it get folded, mutilated and spindled by consultants and vendors until it became an unworkable vampire, sucking up dollars and returning not so much as a reflection of ROI.

    Still, it delivered one of the great comedic moments in corporate marketing history: “Hey, we can use this monolithic, impersonal software system to build a one-to-one relationship with our customers…”

  6. All the big CRM vendors and consultants should be wary. WordPress offers a free software solution, and I think the last couple of days here shows a whole lot of willing “CRM” talent.

  7. Blogs can be excellent direct sales tools, but don’t overlook their “blue sky” benefits – especially when pitching to organizations with complex sales chains or to upper-level executives.

    A couple weeks ago a former client (now a Director of Marketing) called to ask about blogging. Should his company write their own blog?

    He cared little about increased Web traffic, but got quiet when I said he’d lost control of his brand in the online world.

    He pressed me, and heard that his company wasn’t participating in the online disucussion of his brand, so they’d lost control. Simple.

    For him, reclaiming his online brand was the hot button. For others, cost-effective CRM would fly (a good blog is a better CRM tool than a truckload of enterprise-level CRM software).

    The moral is clear.

    When a client’s selling stuff, tell them you can sell stuff.

    When your client is selling the brand, emphasize the brand benefits.

  8. TC: beautiful. That’s exactly it, sort of what Ahmed was saying: tell them what the benefit is (or what they stand to lose).

  9. I can prove the pulling power of a new headline in a day with AdWords split testing. Don’t leave it up to the client — prove to them that you have delivered the goods.

    Granted, blogging takes time. But doing it “smart” will also pay off in a quantifiable way, while all the “hard” work in the world won’t matter a bit when the posts simply sit there lost in cyberspace.

  10. >>>It’s not how many words that are in that new headline I wrote, it’s how much more money the client will make because of them.

    The problem is that hard work is immediately quantifiable (measuarble) where as smart work isn’t, you have to wait and see that your CTR doubles after some time before you know that the work was “smart.” Without a history of performance, it’s hard to convince someone that you’re a smart worker.

    When you’re starting out any endeavor, it’s always hard to know what price to offer you skills at. Too high and you might exceed someone’s budget, too low and you might be cheating yourself or the client might think you’re not good enough (otherwise you’d charge more). I think the best advice is to ask your peers and if you don’t know any peers then you should network and meet some because you can learn a lot from them.

    Finally, cross selling your entire skillset and not just your content generation ability is always a smart move.

  11. Agreed Brian, first step of the sale has to be “what does the client *really* want”. They might think “attention”, “traffic”, “PR”, but do they really only measure what you can do based on generating leads? Deliver what they really want and watch them take notice. This worked for me when I was pitching against agencies who focused on winning awards and mentions in industry journals …

  12. >>>I think there needs to be a distinction between offering writing services and providing a blog service. The former person would provide words up to an agreed word length, etc, the latter would provide a business benefit derived from a blog.

    That analogy hold true with copywriting — if I could come up with 8 words that doubles the response rate of a website, would you pay me $5,000 for it?

    It’s not how many words that are in that new headline I wrote, it’s how much more money the client will make because of them.

    Same with blogging. I may be a bit baised here (given the topic of my blog), but I do think people who can write persuasively AND who understand how to navigate social media will be worth a lot to businesses. But only if they find a way to demonstrate the ROI.

    The tangible benefits of effective blogging are traffic, links, seo, prospect engagement and education, better conversions and more sales. Basically more traffic and more money, right?

    That sounds like an easy sale to me, because that’s what all businesses need to be successful online. If people don’t want to hear about “blogging” then find another way to say it.

    That’s what writers do, right?

  13. I think there needs to be a distinction between offering writing services and providing a blog service. The former person would provide words up to an agreed word length, etc, the latter would provide a business benefit derived from a blog. If I was to propose to a company today something around blogging it would involve the full service from creating, launching, posting through to marketing and metrics analysis. Do not suggest that you would just blog, offer them a successful blog that really provides tangible benefits to their business. There is a world of difference in fee between the two because the payoff is so much greater for the client.

  14. I am always astounded at how little writers (and moreso bloggers) value their craft. Writing is such a HUGE part of many high paying vocations (editing, PR, Marketing, Law), but when you call it “writing” it suddenly loses its value and when you call it blogging it becomes basically worthless to many people.

    Package yourself as a “New Media PR Consultancy” and you just quadrupled your wage.

    Great post Raj.

  15. It’s nice to see so many people with insight about writing here at Performancing.

    TC: your comments are always thoughtful. I hope you’ll write here more often.

    Ahmed: Yes, couldn’t have said it better. People don’t always know exactly what it is you’re offering them. Be concrete when courting potential clients, without overloading them with info.

  16. Showing clients in ‘measurable’ terms what you will do for them and how they will benefit is important.

  17. Some people think the empty page is frightening, but that’s just because they’ve never faced a blank estimate form.

    And Raj, I couldn’t agree more about offering a package or looking for other ways to add value to your contribution. The single biggest mistake made by marketing writers isn’t grammar or spelling. It’s failing to add significant value beyond the words.

    Be an expert. Be a guru. Know stuff. Help a client succeed. Do it, and they’re yours for life (assuming you don’t trade up to a better paying client).

    In the fast-changing blogging universe, most organizations simply can’t keep up. That’s a pain point. If you show up with the aspirin (learn how to double their traffic, get them on Digg, etc), your fee suddenly looks very, very reasonable.

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