Over the last couple of weeks, Bliss and I have talked about finding a good medical content writer and how much medical writers get paid. I’d like to follow up on that with how medical content writers charge for their work. If you want to hire someone to blog for your hospital or practice website, what should you expect in the proposal? And if you are a medical content writer, how should you structure your proposal?
The goal of the proposal is for both parties to know exactly what to expect. Neither of you wants any surprises. It’s not always possible to avoid them, but you should do your best to see that every question is answered in the proposal. For example, a proposal for a medical blog should include information such as:
- How long will each post be?
- How many and what quality of references will be used in the posts?
- How frequently will the posts be published?
- Who will enter the post in to the content management system (i.e., WordPress)?
- Will the writer find an image for the post?
- Who will review each post?
- How many revisions are included?
- What timeline will the editorial process follow?
- etc., etc.
Once you’ve established that the proposal covers everything necessary for the job, then it’s time to look at the cost. There are several ways a writer can charge for their services.
By the Word
This method is commonly used in newspapers and popular magazines. If you are talking about blog posts in the 600-800 word range, for example, you will pay a certain amount for each written word. It might be anywhere from 50 cents to upwards of a dollar per word depending on the expertise of the writer. The plus side is that you have a reasonable idea of what you will pay or earn each month. The downside is the cost will fluctuate each month. And unscrupulous writers may take advantage and pad their writing to beef up the word count. This will lower the overall quality of the work.
This structure is designed for writers who don’t do other things like entering into WordPress, on-page SEO, or finding images. It’s just about the words. In the digital world, writers often do more than just writing, so this method may not be optimal.
By the Hour
With this method, the writer logs the time she devotes to your project and bills you at an hourly rate. This is my least favorite method, because it leaves you both with a lot of unknowns. If you are hiring the writer, you could get a surprise of a bill if your writer has difficulty understanding a particular medical resource, or if they struggle with writer’s block from time to time.
As the writer, this method is not in your best interest either. As you get to know the client and the project better, you will get faster. This means you will essentially be taking a paycut for doing the same work. Not a great idea. It’s still important to know what your hourly rate is, but this is for internal use only, as you will see below.
By the Project
This is my favorite because there are no surprises as long as the project is well-defined. The writer charges a flat fee per project. So if you hire a writer to add two blog posts a month to your blog, you know exactly what you will pay each month.
As the writer, you will know what your check will look like every month.
To determine the project fee, the writer will determine the number of hours the project will typically require. Then she will multiply that by her hourly rate to get the project rate. This guarantees the writer is making the hourly rate she requires, but keeps all the what-ifs out of the equation for both writer and client.
In addition, as the writer gets to know the client and the project, she’ll get faster. This method gives her a built in hourly raise as she gets faster. For example, if she is charging for a three hour blog post, she may be able to write them in two and a half hours after the first year because the client requires fewer revisions as she gets to know his preferences. She’s now making 20 percent more because she is better at her job.
Further, the client gains confidence that the writer is representing his voice and point-of-view accurately. He has to spend less of his own time reviewing drafts and revisions. Yet he still pays the same amount for the final product. Everyone benefits!
So whether you are a writer or you are hiring a writer, consider basing the contract on payments for projects. This arrangement removes many of the unknowns from the equation and benefits both parties.
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