Pay peanuts, get monkeys

How much to pay a content provider

Heard of the ‘Infinite Monkey Theorem’? It states that a monkey pounding randomly on the keys of a typewriter for an infinite amount of time will “almost surely” type any great work of literature, like the complete works of William Shakespeare, for example. The monkey can be replaced by an abstract device that produces random sequence of letters, too. But that`s beside the point. Obviously, buyers can`t afford to wait so long to get their content delivered.

You need to employ a human, then, old chap, to get your content done. Neither peanuts nor bananas shall satiate this fella. He has to paid in either dollars, pounds, euros, rupees, or whatever currency he fancies. In accounting terms, he represents a cost for a service provided. So, you, the content receiver, surely would not want the exercise to end as a bad debt expense, right? Financially or otherwise. More often than not though, it does end up on that side of the page. The reason - T&Cs, but mostly poor payment to the provider.

What`s the first thing that suffers when that happens? The quality of the work. Even average copy is not good enough these days to hit the mark, so beware.

Poor payment = dissatisfaction = poor output.

A well paid content provider is a content one, who will then (hopefully) churn out exceptional copy.

At the same time, paying “more” does not automatically ensure quality, so that`s that.

Which brings us to the question every content receiver faces - just what is the correct amount to be paid to a content provider? (I am limiting myself to a freelancer`s payment for now.)

There`s no magic formula, rate card, or ready reckoner so stop looking for one in this post. There are benchmarks out there, though, to guide you, so you may refer to them. Most, however, end up confusing you.

Let`s just agree to put in place a scale from 1-10 as a measure of good quality content, with 1 obviously being outstandingly poor. That`s our dependent variable. This hangs on independent variables like (in no particular order):

  • Type of assignment (technical writing, e-book, ad copy, news, TV script, video). Easy writing or requiring X degree of specialized knowledge?

  • Provider`s expertise in subject matter

  • Research required or not

  • Deadline of assignment (close/far off) & adherence to it

  • Payment per hour or by the word

  • Original work or re-write assignment

  • Number of re-writes (agreed)

  • Number of re-writes (forced)

  • With embellishments (images, headlines, tags, WordPress use) or without

  • Provider`s total experience*

All of these independent variables will move the needle up or down, and once they are all factored in, it shall come to rest at a point on the 1-10 scale. That, folks, is your X axis, while payment represents the Y side. These two are directly proportional to each other, not inversely, with k(constant) between X & Y being represented by content.

Summing up for those who are poor in statistics, the more “positives” you get as answers for the above bullet points (after subtracting the negatives) the more you will need to pay your content provider.


(*There are many more independent variables you may add.)