Hiring Solar Copywriters, Part 3 – Paying by the Word

This entry is part 4 of 5 in the series Hiring Solar Copywriters

Hiring Solar Copywriters - Solar Energy WritersSo far, we’ve looked at hiring solar copywriters by the hour and by the project.

Today, let’s look at paying copywriters by the word (or sometimes by the page).

Paying Solar Copywriters by the Page

This is a pretty useless system because page lengths are so variable.

With the right font type and size, you can fit the entire Encyclopedia Britannica on one page.  You can also manipulate a single sentence so that it fills an entire book.

If you’re gonna go by the page, you need to determine exact fonts, sizes, and margins.

You also need to determine the number of paragraphs, the lengths of those paragraphs, and how much space needs to go in between each section.

It’s easier to simply use a per-word system.

Paying Solar Copywriters by the Word

This is my personal favorite.  Although I can easily convert to per-hour or per-project, I generally think in words.

First the pros – then the cons.

Advantages of Paying by the Word

  • Pricing Certainty

Even before the project begins, you know exactly how much you’re gonna pay.

  • If the copywriter goes a bit over, it’s his or her problem.
  • If the copywriter goes a bit under, you can just ask her to fulfill the order completely (without adding fluff, of course).
  • Common Unit of Measurement

Once you have a working relationship with a solar copywriter, you know (more or less) what future projects of that type will cost before you even ask.

If you have an upcoming article or blog, just multiply the desired word length times the usual per-word rate, and you have a good idea of what you’ll have to pay.

  • Easy to Adjust for Expanding Scopes

Paying by the word makes it easier to expand or contract existing projects.

Let’s say you have a white paper that was originally supposed to be 6,000 words.  But you’ve decided to add in extra sections, making the new white paper 8,000 words.

There’s no need to renegotiate rates with the copywriter.  Just multiply the new word count by the old rate.  This is easy – both for you and for the copywriter.

Let’s look at the cons

Disadvantages of Paying by the Word

  • Factoring in Research

Per word rates make it harder to factor in research, editing, and formatting.

Let’s say you hire a solar copywriter for a straightforward blog article and he quotes you a rate.  The following week, you need a more detailed blog article on a slightly tougher subject.

You’ll probably want to use the same per-word rate as before.  But from the copywriter’s perspective, there’s a lot more work involved.  You may need to renegotiate a new rate.

  • Fluff, Fat, and Fillers

You potentially face the danger of receiving fluff – i.e. filler content designed to push the project closer to your desired word limit.

If you’ve ever read a Charles Dickens novel, you’re probably aware of this danger.  Because he was paid by the word, his books tend to be very “descriptive.”

Any copywriter hoping to attract loyal customers will realize that the short-term gains of fluff aren’t worth it in the long run.  But as a client, it’s sometimes hard to separate quality writers from hacks before the project begins.

My advice:

  • Ask to see samples.  This is easy to do with articles, blogs, and publicly available marketing materials.  It’s somewhat harder with business plans, grant proposals, and other “private” documents.
  • Don’t lower your standards.  If you’re not happy with the finished product, provide feedback and give the copywriter a chance to make corrections.  If this doesn’t work, you shouldn’t be obliged to pay.

You’re the client.

Just keep in mind that if you don’t pay, you forfeit the right to use any of the content provided.  If you bring on a new copywriter to clean up the mess, he or she must start from scratch.

This concludes our per-word rate discussion.  Next time, we’ll jump into performance-based pay.

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