I run a writing business and despite many people’s mistaken idea that writers all write for the love of it and thus should write for free (afterall we can all ‘write’, right?) I do charge for my work. I hold that if you charge then you are a professional and as such must provide a professional standard of work. Getting that right begins with getting yourself organised. I begin by having a new folder on my iMac’s desktop for every client. Inside that folder I have folders for Admin, Accounts and then the content. To give you a better idea of how I do it I will use one of my current client’s material, suitably disguised where necessary to protect client confidentiality.
First off I set up an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of the work. I list the month, website the content is posted to, the title of the piece, which product it is promoting, how many words and how much that costs out at, when it is scheduled to be published and have I billed the client for it or not and if so, have I been paid for it. The spread sheet looks like this:
When I write the article I include the SEO Meta data which makes it quick and easy to SEO the article in WordPress. I also include the hyper link or URL for the web site it will be posted to as well as the affiliate’s link and the html code at the foot if a banner is to be posted and linked in.
My process for writing is to spend some time reading up on the product or reading other blogs about the topic I wish to write on. I get a lot of RSS feeds from other blogs of people who I enjoy reading or trust to provide good ‘sand’ as I call it. This is the grit that irritates the oyster to make the pearl. I need inspiration and I get it from Wikipedia articles, other blogs, news features and by doing keyword searches. Once I get a few ideas I collect them on an idea sheet, then I write the article. Once completed it is added to the ledger and sent to the client, or I upload it directly to their website.
When writing professionally, you need discipline and organisation and you need processes in place to ensure you deliver the goods. I charge between $0.05-$0.10 per word, but I am usually writing multiple articles and have a regular income from each client. Most articles average out around $15-20 so five to seven articles keeps their web site full of fresh content for around $100 a week. These are well researched, properly written articles that are used on professional web sites for financial consultants, health products, writing and publishing sites and so on. Keep in mind I often also upload direct to the site and while there I check the stats and also clean out any spam comments or let the client know the status of their site. It is all about adding value and the extra effort leads to a lot of referral business. Once set up I can write those five to seven articles in two hours, which is in line with my hourly rate at cost of $50.
Knowing what to charge is one of the big questions all new writers ask me. I tell them to figure out what they need to earn then work back with how many hours they can spend writing to earn it and don’t forget how many hours it will take to find the clients. (See Finders and Grinders). I can research and write an eBook or ghostwrite a print book at the rate of 750 words an hour, including research time, corresponding with the client and so on. That works out at around $0.06/word, or $50 an hour, at cost. Whatever I charge on top of that is profit. When I edit and proof I work to a schedule of 5,000 words an hour, or $0.01 /word, at cost. I aim for an income of $1,000 a week, gross and that is 20 hours of work at $50hr. The rest of the time is spent lazing around the pool with my laptop and a cocktail….. I wish. No, the other 40 or more hours is spent finding the work, researching, writing, developing and lecturing or tutoring to make ends meet. Some weeks are hectic and overflowing, others are not so profitable but you need to make it all balance out in the end and still feel the love.