The Cost of Hiring a Freelancer vs. an In-House Writer

The Cost of Hiring a Freelancer vs. an In-House Writer

Marketing is mandatory for companies and other organizations. Whether you have a new product for consumers or a fundraising need for your charity, marketing is the way you connect with your audience.

And all marketing is content.

  • Video scripts
  • Instagram images and captions
  • Blog posts
  • Landing pages
  • Emails
  • Search ads
  • Radio and television ads
  • Direct mail

Each of these is made of content — content that someone or some team created. 

No matter what your specific business or organizational goals are, if you have a message to put in front of an audience, you need people to create that content. Whether you turn to in-house talent or outsource content creation is up to you, but it’s critical to understand the costs before you make a decision.

Apples & Oranges: How to Successfully Compare the Cost of Freelancers With the Cost of Staff Writers

Before you can accurately assess costs — and cost-savings — it’s important to understand how to compare apples with oranges. 

For instance, if you pay an in-house writer $25 per hour and a freelancer 10 cents per word, how can you tell which is less expensive? 

It’s almost impossible to make this comparison when you’re talking about one small writing project. In fact, if all you need is one small writing project completed, you shouldn’t be making this comparison at all. Why hire an in-house employee for a single project when you can outsource it and be done with the expense once the project is over?

If you have ongoing content needs, however, it makes sense to crunch some numbers to determine what’s best for your budget. Here are a few tips for ensuring you do so accurately:

  • Look at the big picture instead of costs for single projects. Think about what you would pay for content over the course of an entire year. It can be easier to compare a year’s worth of freelance content expenses to a year’s worth of payroll expenses than to compare hourly wages to freelance charges. 
  • Include all the costs of employing someone. When calculating the cost of hiring in-house writers, consider more than what you pay them. Add in benefits, training expenses, and the costs of hiring. 
  • Remember that you may have internal costs even when you work with freelancers. You may still need to manage freelancers, and if you work directly with writers, you might have to do edits and quality checks yourself. 

Average Cost of Hiring an In-House Writer

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, writers and authors make an average of $69,510 per year — or $33.42 hourly. 

However, “writers and authors” is a pretty big umbrella, and the average salary isn’t inclusive of all costs that an employer might pay when hiring someone. Let’s break this down a bit further so you can get a better idea of what it might cost for you to hire an in-house writer for your organization.

Specific jobs related to writingAverage annual salary Average hourly pay
Technical writers$78,060$37.53
Reporters and journalists$48,370$23.26
Writers and authors (general0$69,510$33.42
Digital content writer, with experience$114,443$55
Online content writer, entry-level$49,790$24
SEO writer$51,753$25

As you can see from the above table, a good estimate for the amount you may need to pay an in-house writer is $25 to $50 an hour, or around $50,000 to $115,000 per year.

However, you’ll also incur other costs if you hire full-time in-house staff. 

Estimated additional costs of hiring an in-house writer at $60,000 per year in the U.S.

Cost to hire and train a new employee$4,700
Employer’s portion of payroll taxes$4,590 per year 
Expenses associated with coverage of paid time off$3,500
Benefits, such as healthcare or 401(k) contributions$6,500
Costs to provide supplies and equipment, such as a computer$3,500

Depending on the benefits you offer, you could end up paying $78,000 or more annually for a single in-house writer. A team of just five writers can cost $400,000 or more yearly. 

How Much Does it Cost to Hire a Freelancer?

Freelance writers offer services for a wide range of prices. They also charge for those services in a variety of ways, including:

  • Hourly
  • Per project
  • Per page of copy, which is usually defined by an approximate number of words 
  • Per word
  • Per unit, such as per meta description or Instagram caption

Working directly with freelancers versus working with an agency or content company can also drastically impact how much you pay. 

What does it cost to work directly with a freelancer?

One option for working with freelance writers is to put out a job posting, accept resumes or applications directly from freelancers and choose some writers for contract work. 

In this scenario, you foot the bill for a variety of expenses, including:

  • The cost to develop the job posting and market the listing
  • The cost of training freelancers, which can include developing internal briefs, offering feedback and taking time to ensure freelancers understand any software or internal processes
  • In-house employee labor expenses associated with managing the freelancer team — including assigning work, managing workflows, receiving work and any editing or feedback that might be necessary
  • Paying freelancers for the work they do

What are some average freelance writer rates?

Here’s what the American Writers & Artist’s Institute suggests professional and experienced freelancers charge for various copywriting projects. 

Project typeSuggested freelance chargeNotes
Home page with SEO and sales-conversion copy$1,500 to $3,000 per pageThis would be more than basic SEO content. It would involve high-quality sales copy.
SEO and sales-conversion copy to other pages$250 to $1,000 per pageRewriting content for about us, service and other pages with high-level, conversion-centric sales content. 
New SEO and sales-conversion copy for pages$500 to $1,250 per pageWriting new high-level, conversion-centric sales content for such pages.
Long-form sales pages$3,500 to $25,000 or moreThe rates, according to AWAI, depend on the experience of the sales copywriter and what results they’ve driven before
Lead-gen or squeeze pages$500 – $1,500Generally, this copy is sales-centric and short-form.
SEO articles$250 – $1,000This content is designed to drive traffic to pages and inform the reader. Writers may not need as much experience in writing sales and conversion copy.
Newsletter pieces of 600-800 words$200 – $500You may want a writer who is familiar with your audience or niche so they can provide relevant, helpful copy.
Blog posts$250 – $800 per postHow much you pay for this SEO copy depends heavily on word count and subject matter.
Pillar posts$500 – $2,000 per postThese are more authoritative, long-form blog posts.
Press releases$500 – $1,000 per releaseYou might be able to pay less for SEO press releases.
White paper$2,000 – $10,000 per paperCosts depend on the length of the paper, the specialization of the topic and how much research you expect the freelancer to do.
Marketing emails$100 – $2,000 per emailFreelancer rates depend on the type of email and the sales and marketing expertise of the freelancer.

Using these rates as a basic guide, let’s look at the cost of hiring freelancers directly to complete a website content writing project. For this hypothetical project, imagine that you need:

  • New home page copy ($1,500)
  • 30 new pages — a mix of high-quality sales pages and SEO pages ($10,000)
  • 2 pillar posts — $1,000
  • 10 blog posts — $3,000

The freelancer cost for your project would be $15,500. Add in internal costs associated with managing the freelancers, and the total costs could be $17,000 to $18,000 or more.

Of course, you might save money by hiring freelancers with much lower rates. However, as with any other service, you often get what you pay for. Freelancers with less experience or those that charge bottom-barrel rates may also increase how much internal effort you need to exert on a project, which can lead to increased internal costs that negate your savings.

How much does it cost to hire crowd content freelancers?

Crowd Content offers a wide range of pricing choices — and several ways to work with freelancers through our platform. 

Generally, pricing structures are per word. However, we can also accommodate flat pricing per piece and other structures to meet unique client needs. 

Pricing in our Marketplace is 3.5 to 15.8 cents per word. If you want our professional editors to proofread your copy before it’s delivered, you can add editing for 4 cents per word.  Our customer service reps can help you build strong writing and editing teams, but you generally manage those teams, so you may have some internal expenses associated with overseeing content. 

To understand how much high-quality 4-star content might cost with Crowd Content’s marketplace services, consider the table below.

Word count
Cost for 4-star copy without editing
Cost for 4-star copy with editing

You can also choose managed services and work with fully-managed content teams. Our content managers and production teams partner with clients to deliver publish-ready content, and they can take a lot of the burden off your internal teams. Managed services can include brief creation, editing and quality assurance, and management of large freelance teams, reducing some of your internal costs.  

Hiring In-House Writers, Directly Contracting With Freelancers, or Working With Crowd Content: Which Is More Cost-Effective?

Let’s look at another hypothetical situation to understand how much content might cost with each of these options.

In this scenario, a company needs around 250,000 total words of blog content per year (about 250 blog posts). It considers the following options:

  • Hire one full-time in-house writer at an expense of around $80,000 total
  • Contract with freelancers directly at an expense of $62,000 to $125,000 total
  • Use Crowd Content’s 4-star marketplace writers and editors at an expense of around $49,750 plus any internal costs associated with managing workflows

Which Choice Is Right for Your Business?

A one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t exist here, so you need to consider your business needs, budget and how your team works best. Some teams need in-house support and collaboration more than cost-savings. Some companies don’t have any in-house resources for content creation and are happy to outsource everything. 

There isn’t a single right answer, though you can see from the numbers above that there’s definitely a more cost-effective answer. If you’re interested in those cost savings and how Crowd Content can help you drive them without downgrading the quality of your content, connect with us today.

Carlos Meza

Article by

President and Chief Executive Officer at Crowd Content.

Carlos is a guiding voice in an SEO and content creation industry brimming with turbulent growth. He has leveraged his past experience as a technology executive, engineer, and corporate financier to bring innovative end-to-end content creation solutions to SMBs and enterprise clients around the globe — delivering high-quality, scalable products through the marriage of human talent, technology, automation, and artificial intelligence.

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