If you’re a business owner in the market for some freelance writing, you may be wondering how to go about getting quotes. Should you pay by the word? By the hour? Or per project? And what’s the best way to get quality writing at a fair price?

In this article, I explain which means of charging is better for everyone involved so that you don’t get ripped off the next time you engage a freelance content writer or a conversion copywriter.

Let’s dig in!

Per word vs. per hour vs. per project

Maybe you just decided that writing isn’t for you, or perhaps you can’t find the time to publish blog articles, newsletters or new content for your website.


However you reach this point though, there will come a moment when outsourcing your writing project to a freelancer is the only solution. And upon corresponding with your freelancer and requesting a quote, they will invariably come back to you with a price based on one of three different models: per word, per hour or per project.

Per word

It’s a common misconception that charging by the word is the de facto method for freelancers to charge. And I have surf biz owners asking me time and time again what my per word rate is.

My answer? I don’t have one.

The truth about per word rates is that they’re taking advantage of you. Whether it’s on purpose or out of ignorance, per word rates are always going to leave you feeling short-changed. This is because it’s very easy to stretch out an article when you’re being paid per word.

Think about it this way.

If you engage a freelancer to write an article about a specific surfing competition at $0.10 per word, they could easily pad out the article by writing about things like the history of surfing, the different types of surfboards, etc. And even if you weed out most of the extraneous details in the feedback rounds, there will be plenty of unnecessary words that slip through the net.

In other words, no matter how well-developed your editing skills are, freelancers can still write an article with more words than needed, thereby milking you for more cash than what the article might be worth in the hands of a competent writer.

So when is charging by the word accepted?

If you run a print magazine (hello… I still read you), it’s totally acceptable to charge by the word because that’s how print works.

For everything else – website articles, blog posts, social media updates and more – don’t fall into the trap of paying someone by the word.

Per hour

My per word rant is over, but don’t kick your shoes off and relax just yet… I’m about to go on another one.

This time it’s about freelancers who charge by the hour, which is in fairness better than per word rates. However, it can also lead to your writer working at the pace of a snail going to a funeral (there’s a soundtrack for that?).

That’s to say very, very slow.

In saying this, paying by the hour can work out well if you’re working with someone who is a total expert in their field and can churn out articles like they’re going out of fashion.

So I guess if you really trust the freelance writer you’re working with, per hour is not a bad option.

Per project

The last (and in my humble opinion) most mutually beneficial method for paying a freelancer is per project.

Here’s why I think that.

For one, it provides you with a sense of certainty since you know exactly what the entire project is going to cost you. This not only makes budgeting for your business a breeze, but it also helps if you need to compare this quote with others you might have received.

Another reason I believe per project is the way to go is because it incentivises the freelancer to get the job done as quickly and efficiently as possible. After all, they’re not going to get paid any extra for writing an article that’s twice the length it needs to be, right?

There’s also no need for time tracking or micro-managing since you’re paying a set fee for the entire project.

This means that both you and the freelancer can avoid any awkward conversations about how many hours have been spent on the project and whether or not that’s worth the price.

Conclusion: Which method of charging is most beneficial for your surf biz?

So which method of charging is right for you and your surf biz?

I feel like my opinion on this is clear – asking your freelancer for a by the project quote is the way to go for both you and the contractor.

It’s transparent, it’s simple and it avoids any potential disputes down the line.

But in saying this, when you have an existing working relationship based on trust, both you and your freelancer might be more flexible. It all comes down to what you’re comfortable with and what works best for your business.

At the end of the day, paying a freelancer per word, per hour or per project is all about what’s going to help you sleep at night. And that, my friend, is priceless.

If you like this article, check out this one! It contains a bunch of helpful tips for surf camp owners and it’s currently trending on Google!