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|Unique Articles: How to Work Out What to Charge? |
Your opinion please...
I posted in this forum a couple of months ago with a question regarding allowing another site to use my articles, and received a lot of helpful answers, so I'm coming back with further developments and more questions.
A little background first - my website is a smallish (100 pages) site devoted to a particular sport that isn't all that high profile. I run it as a player, coach and enthusiast, and sell the occasional DVD of match footage or pay per download of matches - nothing huge at the moment - less than $50 per week. The website is a hobby more than a business really.
As an enthusiast and coach, I also write articles on the more advanced techniques and tactics of the sport. I like to write, so in the last 9 months or so I've managed to put together a collection of articles that I can safely say is probably unmatched around the web - especially from one writer. Being a lower profile sport this is not as hard as it sounds, but it did take me a lot of time (we are talking hundreds of hours here!). I am hoping that my collection of articles will also help attract a bit of traffic which will also help me sell a few more DVDs, pay per downloads etc.
OK, now to get to the point. My site is currently in the google sandbox (nowhere to be found for a search of the sport keywords), and ranking about 910 or so in Yahoo. I firmly believe that eventually it will be able to move up pretty high in the rankings and traffic will improve - but who knows when.
I've got two of the top 10 ranking sites for the sport wanting to use my articles - like I said there really isn't anything else out there like them (oh, the modesty!). One site simply wants to use the articles and is willing to give me credit and a link back to my site. The other site (which was using my articles on a donation basis from their readers, which we are renegotiating) is asking me what would I charge for exclusive access to the articles (just my site and theirs). They currently want to know how much I would charge per 1000 words. The problem is I have no real idea what to charge - I know they use the articles to help with selling equipment for the sport etc, so they must be making some money that way. Also the articles themselves give them excellent rankings on many keywords - as I've seen in Google. But as a top 10 site, they would probably get a ton of traffic anyway.
Finally, here are the questions -
What is the going rate for a 1000 word article in a lower-profile sport?
Should I allow one site exclusive access, or simply allow both sites to use the articles provided I get full credit, copyright and a link back to my site?
Would I be better off waiting to get out of the sandbox etc (at least 5 months and counting so far) and only putting the articles on my site? (These are top 10 sites and could send a lot of traffic my way - and I don't know how long it will take to start to rank where I should be based on quality).
Any other ideas or thoughts?
For those of you with the patience to get this far, thanks and I'm looking forward to any help you can give.
[edited by: engine at 3:16 pm (utc) on Nov. 9, 2005]
Greg, while I can't advise you what you should charge for unique content, the site that wants exclusives obviously considers your writing has a value.
As one site is willing to pay you, it doesn't make sense to give your articles away to the other site just to get a link.
Do remember though that by allowing one site an exclusive licence to publish your work, this means you cannot also publish the same articles on your own site. You retain copyright in any event - they would be purchasing a licence. If you plan to go down this route, consider granting them a 6-month or one year licence, after which the "exclusivity" runs out and you are free to publish the articles yourself on your own site, by which time you would (hopefully!) be out of the sandbox.
An alternative which may benefit all parties would be to publish the articles in full on your site, and to allow both the other sites to publish EXCERPTS only on their sites for free, with a link to your site and crediting you as author, giving their readers access to the full article, but giving you the benefit of the traffic. This may help get you out of the sandbox a bit quicker. This is certainly how I'd do it, thus establishing myself and my site as an authority on the subject.
If you want to make some money out of your writing, a second alternative would be to allow the site which is offering to pay, to purchase a time-limited licence as outlined above on a select few articles, and to publish the remainder on your site. You could then allow them to link to the remaining articles for free.
Whatever you decide, don't make the mistake of granting anyone exclusive rights to publish your work in perpetuity for peanuts.
Thanks for the feedback malachite - I'm taking it all on board - rest assured that I won't be giving any site access to my articles for perpetuity for peanuts.
Plus the articles are going to stay up on my site as well - as far as I am concerned that's pretty much not negotiable - I put a lot of time writing and editing the pages and I'm d*mned if I'm taking them down. I'm not big enough to hurt their traffic in any way so it shouldn't be a problem.
Greg, my apologies. I missed the bit in your original post where you said "exclusive access" meant you will be publishing the articles on your own site as well.
While I know what you mean, be careful with the wording used in your negotiations with the big site. Instead of "exclusive rights" have a clause which says something like you "grant www.bigsite.com exclusive (time-limited) rights to REPUBLISH articles first published on www.littlesite.com which remain copyright of (your name)"
If you want to keep exactly the same articles on your own site as well, you might also want to consider the possible penalty Google will attach to the duplicate content. If they have better PR than you, you will be penalised for the dup content, not them.
My advice would be to go down the excerpts and backlinks route and avoid the possible penalty.
As far as what to charge goes, do you know any of the sports reporters on your local rag? Why not ask one of them what freelance rate they'd realistically expect to get for 1000 words, then reduce the amount slightly to take into account these are republished articles. Be warned, journos pay rates are pretty c*&p ;)
I would pay between 15-20$ per 300-500 word article
Sadly, the previous poster's figures are probably about right these days <sigh>. Long gone are the days of $500 per article, leisurely lunches and a big fat expense account :(
Before giving exclusive article rights you need to consider that your information may be "stolen" by scrapper sites. What position would that put you in if someone did this to your article and reposted it to another website other than yours and his. This has happened to us and it is something you have no control over. "Exclusivity" is very tricky!
It really all depends on what is more important to you. Is your goal to increase the visibility of your site or is it to make money from the creation of the articles?
Another option: Seems that you love the sport, so why not become an "authority" on the sport. You may opt for getting exposure on both sites with a link back to yours by providing full articles or give them monthly "tidbits" that they can publish on the sport. Thus creating a type of readership from their sites and new content for all ( these tidbits can be small bits from your larger articles...smaller bits seem to work better on the internet as longer articles are more apt to get abandonded before read to completion)
It really all depends on what you want to do with your site and what you want these larger sites to help you accomplish.
edited for my bad spelling
[edited by: TammyJo at 3:42 pm (utc) on Nov. 9, 2005]
It seems like your articles are worth alot to you. You say there are none like them and that these bigger websites can garner a lot of traffic/conversions from them. Instead of pricing them as you normally would an article, price them as they're worth to you: is it worth it to sell them for $100 a pop? Can you make more by keeping them and developing your website? Would you sell them for a huge price - say, $600 per article - because you feel you can make good money with them?
It's all a matter of what they're worth to YOU, not of what they're worth to a potential buyer.
>>>I would pay between 15-20$ per 300-500 word article
I'm getting four to five hundred words these days of good, well written unique content from anywhere from 5-10 dollars per article.
On a speciality topic (as the one you mentioned) where the info was highly in depth and very technical (i.e. only those involved at high volume in the topic or those who spent hours upon hours researching it) and where my desired was 1000 words and article, my sky high limit would be 50 bucks a pop.
That said, do not give them EXACT versions of your articles unless you want duplicate issues in the engines. Take your existing articles and re-write them so the wording is unique.
Regarding your site, you will never leave the sandbox unless you keep your content 100% to yourself. You will have a massive duplication penalty and will think you're sandboxed forever :(
In terms of unique (as in just for them and not for you any more), market pressure holds at around $30 for a 1000 word article, more if you are talented.
|I'm getting four to five hundred words these days of good, well written unique content from anywhere from 5-10 dollars per article |
Aaaaaargh! From a writer's perspective, that's enough to drive any self-respecting writer to drink ;)
Seriously though sugarrae, you really get articles written for you for as little as $5/400-500 words?
|What is the going rate for a 1000 word article in a lower-profile sport? |
I pay $75 for 1000 word news article that is well researched and timely.
|Would I be better off waiting to get out of the sandbox etc (at least 5 months and counting so far) and only putting the articles on my site? |
IMHO, if you're content is good enough to be noticed and in demand by the top two sites in your niche, I would wait and see what happens when you get out of the sandbox. I think its worth the risk of seeing if the future potential outweighs the present value of selling your content.
I pay $50 for first print rights to a 500-800 word original article.
Quick answer: For researched quality business professional level unique conent on subjects of my choosing in my niche: £50 for 1000+, £25 for 500+. Have recently advertised and am finding plenty of demand, seems there are a lot of good writers out there who are not that good at marketing and selling themselves... (what say you writers about this observation?)
Am new to this 'paying others for copy' game, so perhaps I'm overpaying judging on the figures here. My alternative or opportunity cost would be to take on a member of staff and train them to produce copy. If I can get it produced cheaper by outsoucing, then hey.
Toughie is the researched part - this can take ages and needs to be somehow factored in. Whilst it's possible to have fledgling writers produce copy for free whilst building up their online portfolio, how much is your time worth wrt reviewing, editing and renegotiating, and will it be appropriate?
Mwack and tammyjo have both asked what it's worth to you. So I'd like to swap sides and invite you to step into the shoes of the would be paying site manager, and ask what it is about your copy that they value the most. Timeliness? Focus? Style? Uniqueness? Once you've brainstormed a list, call them up, and arrange to see the purchaser face to face if possible. (it's far easier to lie over the phone - but pls don't tell me girlfriend this!) When you can look them in the eyeball, have a open discussion wherein you ask them 'why' they are interested in your content - enquire as to what having your content will enable them to do that they can't do without it.
DTopSpirit - sandbox filters can recede after 6 months, so first tip is to wait a 'little' longer and see.
Hope this helps.
First, coburn is right. Wait six months and see.
Second, the amount of traffic you can drive determines the value of the material. Period. I don't care how many hours you put into it or not.
DTopSprirt has made a wise move in going online himself. Take a look at this potential partner and ask why you can't do what they do as well or better.
Today the New York Times released their first numbers on subscriptions to their TimesSelect. This is the first hard look we have seen, outside of the Wall Street Journal, of what people will pay for content on a large scale.
As the article on Editor and Publisher outlines, about 135,000 Web users have signed up and paid the $7.95 monthly fee or $49.95 annual price since the service began less than two months ago. (Home subscribers also have access to the service but do not pay extra for it. Also, there was a promotional sign up at first.)
It's a complex package worth looking at. I will not go into it here. NYTimes.com explains it well.
Keep in mind that NYTimes.com achieved record traffic of 21.3 million unique visitors worldwide. You can figure the percentage. Of course, they sell ads as well.
But, also take a look at what WSJ.com charges as well in terms of pricing.
My point: Your readers will pay and you can sell ads, too. That's what is great about the web. And, if you take a little of that money and enhance the web site by hiring some help to drive traffic to your site, it could do well.
$30.00 for a 1000 word, US english article. Talented, well-written, and delivered very quickly. If I didn't have this team then I'd probably pay a good bit more for the same work elsewhere. It's worth it.
Can even get some quality links put in the mix---if in-copy outbound linking to authority sites is your thing.
This works well for trading... 1 page content for 3 in-copy links or so. Pretty cost effective, very seo effective.
|I'm getting four to five hundred words these days of good, well written unique content from anywhere from 5-10 dollars per article. |
I'm paying about the same as Rae. I get 500 words for $5 to $10 (my pay scale is directly related to the number articles an individual produces in a two week period). Quality content doesn't have to cost a lot!
Thanks very much to everyone who has been kind enough to provide some help and advice - I'm absorbing it all at the moment. Any other points of view are still welcome though.
One extra clarification that I will add - in my sport a typical player can spend several hundred dollars a year or more in equipment. That's where the money is online (as I'm sure you would all know). The bigger site has it's own equipment business, so it will be using many of my articles to help sell it's products. That is probably where most of the value lies for them - they don't really need the articles to generate more traffic - they want to be able to convert more of the traffic, I guess.
I don't have the time, desire or resources to set up a full online equipment dealership, so the value to me is more on personal satisfaction of writing good articles, selling the odd DVD and hopefully someday becoming an authority site that could sell a bit of advertising to other equipment dealers.
Greg (who has a lot to think about now!)
|I don't have the time, desire or resources to set up a full online equipment dealership |
It seems to me that what you want is an affiliate type arrangement with the big players. Once your site is out of the sandbox and getting the big traffic, put them on either a pay per click or pay per sale basis, and run their product ads on your site.
If I knew a new competing site was going to be something real good, paying for a license to show their content on my site would be a really smart move. Not only would I benefit from their content at a really good price, but I'd make sure they never do very well because of duplicate content (assuming my site has the better rank).
>As one site is willing to pay you, it doesn't make sense to give your articles away to the other site just to get a link.
A friend of mine recently published an article on A List Apart. I think it would be hard to sell most any article for the value he is getting out of the authority of the link from that site, let alone the boost in credibility.
plus good primary links to your site may lead not only to direct exposure and link popularity, but also secondary exposure and more link love.
since your site is new you likely have lots of content and not so many links.
>Whatever you decide, don't make the mistake of granting anyone exclusive rights to publish your work in perpetuity for peanuts.
for books I totally agree, but if you are obscure / new and / or are operating in a not so well known field and are good at writing articles sometimes giving them away is a great form of marketing.
rule #1: Obscurity is a far greater threat to authors and creative artists than piracy.
>Regarding your site, you will never leave the sandbox unless you keep your content 100% to yourself.
I think sitting chill with minimal link popularity is far worse than trading some of what you got a lot of for something you don't got a lot of (ie: content for links)
The web has taught me alot about not considering what things could or should be worth and that unless you actively work to make them worth it then inferior products which are marketed more aggressively will often win big.
if you have around a hundred articles I don't think it hurts you to share a few of them.
I just started a thread about articles before I found this one. I ask if letting anyone else have your article is a waste of time [webmasterworld.com]. If it's not an article directory and is a large, established site in your field and will link back to you it may be worth letting them run the article but I would then refrain from running it on my own site for dup content reasons - the big site will likely be considered the original source.
another option is to have an altered longer version on your own site with a part 2 that all the other readers can click to read on
I would carefully consider vince's point in this case. A publishing venture such as this should be able to attract more revenue via ads than selling the content.
Again, look at the NYT model. Lots and lots of open content with lots and lots of ads, but then to have access to the most popular sections, a fee is charged to the readers. Where they see more ads, too. And, the fact these readers are keen enough on the topic to pay for the content makes them especially appealing to marketers, so ad rates can be as high here as elsewhere despite the smaller audience.
Then I would consider affiliating with someone who puts on shows/events/conferences/clinics. There is very good money in this for publishers who know their subject matter and care about their subscribers. (Right Brett?) It's a win-win-win. The readers win, the marketers win and you win. It will be great for the sport.
|Sadly, the previous poster's figures are probably about right these days <sigh>. Long gone are the days of $500 per article, leisurely lunches and a big fat expense account :( |
I pay a flat rate of $6 a page for unique 500-800 word articles from my writers.
...of course, they are non-U.S. based so are willing to work for peanuts.
I think it can be tricky to sell articles to sites on a one off basis, it might be you are better keeping them for your own site.
You might even try hooking up with a news agency and selling the articles to them to resell.
I know I would rather pay a flat rate to a writer than per article, especially in news...where I can pay Reuters, AP or whatever and get the articles at a much reduced cost.
We also pay some writers a % of income from the articles. This works OK for some reviews or say celebrity items, but less well for features and news.
Unless we start pushing about 500K unique a day I would not make money paying say $100 for a med-length article.
From my point of view the problem is some writers expect the same rates they would get from a print publication..same happens with some photo agencies...just not economic on the net unless diong very high traffic...at least in our area. BUt I guess non-news sites could pay more for articles, as longer value for them.
Ive just signed up a guy who write reasonable artlces for $10 for 500 words - he has offered to work for $7 per article.
However I take the view that a good days work deserves a good days pay, they have bills to pay and kids to feed.
Dont grind them into the dirt just because you have the power to do so. No exploitation.
Thanks everyone who has posted so far - I'll be sitting down on the weekend with all your advice and having a good think through it all before I do anything.
Not sure how much detail I can give of how it turns out, but I'll be sure to post an update of what the general outcome is.
Until then, if anyone else has words of wisdom to share, please feel free.
Well, don't know if this are "words of wisdom", but next to the purely $$$ question, is what benefits your articles on other pages might be in for your site.
Your site is small, so your text published on a big(er) site, might give your text more exposure, and work as a doorway page to your site. Even if the other site will get listed with your content before you in the SE it will probably benefit you, as you might have a harder time to get competitive listings as a rather small site.
We work in general pretty well with the formula: "content in change for Link/exposure".
DTopSpirit - folk so far have imho made a faulty assumption. Placing your content on their site doesn't necessarily preclude you from gaining SE points for publishing it on your site.
Simple remedy to ensure that you get full credit from G and the rest - change a few words in every pargraph. Even if you change them slightly, the SE's will see it as a new article and credit both the commercial site and yours fully. Would recommend you change the <H1> heading and <Title> too. Ensure that the copy on their site carries a little paragraph that requests any republications to give credit and a link to your site rather than theirs.
Only real downside is that their version of the article will 'probably' show more highly on the SE's than yours. This can again be overcome through effective research of your kws when you doing on page optimisation.
|...to me is more on personal satisfaction of writing good articles, selling the odd DVD and hopefully someday becoming an authority site that could sell a bit of advertising to other equipment dealers. |
1. Love to write a good article / personal satisfaction.
2. Selling the Odd DVD
3. Becoming an authority site that would sell advertising to other equipment dealers.
Look at your #3 and work backwards...that is your ultimate goal that needs a plan. What can you do now to get that started.
1. How can you effectively work with these equipment companies to help you get exposure? (That is what you are really after it sounds to me)
2. Since they sell equipment...they might want to sell your DVD through their site. This will give you credibility of as an authority...which is helping #3 along. You can help them by just giving them portions of your articles..must have a link back to your authority site ( after you revise so there isn't duplicate content).
3.Like I said before. You could become their monthly columnist/sport guru for this sport ( which accomplishes #1.) They get fresh content every month (which helps them), they get repeat visitors looking to read your stuff(= repeat customers), you get a link back to your authority website and the recommendation advertising it implies by them using your content ( a little picture of you doesn't hurt) Search engines like it...people start putting your advise to a face...more equipment and enthusiest find it...they find you...your authority site is born.
IMHO - selling your articles is a waste. You can use that content to create your authority status by developing a more meaningful relationship with these equipment companies. You may not get money now, but you could really create a win/win for the equipment sellers and yourself.
Also...how many equipment sellers in your field are actually going to publish articles? When your site becomes big...they will be looking for advertising and you will get to keep your articles for yourself and write to your hearts content:)
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