Hands down, the largest factor in what content costs is the amount of time it takes to produce it. That doesn’t necessarily mean that a short article or blog post will automatically be less expensive than a longer case study or whitepaper, though. That’s where other factors come in.
Content Background Work
How much work does the content provider have to do before even beginning to write? A client who needs a 500-word blog post and sends the writer a bullet list of what to include will accrue significantly fewer hours than a client who needs a 500-word blog post that requires the writer to conduct interviews with multiple people and extensive background research before even beginning to write.
The same holds true with revisions and updates. The more revisions requested, the more the piece is likely to cost. Pro tip: It may sound like a good idea to have all stakeholders weigh in on content, but in the end, writing and editing by committee is probably one of the most expensive things you can do—because everyone will have different ideas and suggestions, and revisions usually go into multiple iterations without noticeable improvement. Whenever possible, keeping the review team to no more than three helps speed up the process.
Projects that need an unusually quick turnaround, one that might involve the content provider putting in overtime and/or working nights and weekends, usually come with a premium.
Know Your Editing
People often use terms like proofreading, editing, and copyediting interchangeably. But they’re actually different things, and editing itself has several different subcategories. These all require varying levels of expertise and training, and accordingly, you’ll pay more for some than others. Strictly speaking, proofreading is a simple check of grammar, spelling, and punctuation. The varying levels of editing continue from there, with some of the more complex forms involving examining the overall text for continuity, coherence, and relevance—and that takes more time.
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