Freelance Business: How and When to Pay Freelance SEO Writers You Outsource Work to When You Have No Money

Editor Note: The SEO Copywriter Training Class is Discounted Thru the End of the Year. Tired of the cubicle grind? Ready to change your life and start a truly doable, work-from-home business earning $50-$75K/yr? This training will get you there in 2012. It’s a great holiday gift — to yourself!

How to Freelance: An SEO Writing “Payroll” Question

Recently, I received the following question from Cold Calling Carol, the freelancer whose SEO writing business took of this past summer. She got so busy that she outsourced some of her article writing, and had run into the following snag. She wrote:

. . . I was wondering how do you go about paying your writers when a client doesn’t pay your invoice in time or at all? I am still waiting on another client to pay me so i can pay my writer.

This happened to me when I owned my editorial staffing agency in New York (1996-2004). Remember, Inkwell Editorial started out as just an editorial outsource agency. We took on all types of editing, proofreading, coding and word processing jobs from large companies like Pearson Publishing, as well as individuals, eg, screenwriters and web designers.

We (my sister and partner at the time) outsourced the work to a team of freelancers we had.

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Freelance Business: How I Got Into – and Out of – a Financial Pickle

When we started the staffing division of the company in 1997, we were sending temps on site and paid them every week. But, clients sometimes took 30, 60 and even 90 days to pay us. Talk about being in a financial pickle week in and week out! 

Many times, we had to beg, borrow and grovel to make payroll. Just as an aside, this is one of the main reasons many small businesses fail – cash flow problems. While it’s great to have jobs flowing in, it doesn’t mean a hill of beans if can’t make your monthly financial obligations.

We finally got a factor, which solved our cash flow problems. 

Following is how I took the lessons I learned from those days into my SEO / freelance writing business.

Freelance (SEO) Writing Business Question: How & When to Pay Writers You Outsource Work To

In the beginning of my SEO writing career when finances were limited, I told freelancers that I’d pay them when the client paid me. I let them know that this could be as much as 30 days, but that it would usually be less than that, as most of my clients paid within days.

As I have a history on the web and freelancers could see that I was legit, I never had a problem finding SEO writers who accepted this arrangement. 

Usually I’d pay invoices as soon as I had enough money in my PayPal account – whether it came from ebook sales or projects from other clients, etc. Paying freelancers this way got to be a pain though because of the recordkeeping, eg, tracking who worked on which project when, and when that freelancer should be paid, etc. 

So as soon as I was able to, I moved to a weekly payment system – one I still pretty much use – which is, I pay everybody on Fridays. In order to be able to do this though, you have to have a “Payroll Fund.”

How to Create a Payroll Fund to Pay Your SEO Writers on a Regular Basis – No Matter When Your Clients Pay 

Go back through invoices over a defined period of time, eg, one quarter, 6 months, etc. Add up how much you’ve paid freelancers “in total.” Then, compute how much that works out to be on a weekly basis. Stick at least double that amount in a “Payroll Fund” (triple if you can).

This way, you’ll always be able to hire and pay your freelance writers – no matter when your clients pay you.

Now, something can always throw this out of whack, eg, you get a large job and have to hire twice as many writers as you usually do. But, this is why it’s important to get at least half of a project up front (in my opinion).

If you have a payroll fund, you can add this deposit to that and still usually be able to meet your weekly payout obligations to your freelancers.

Back Home 

On a personal note, I’m back home in the states. I love travelling with all of my heart and I’d been in Jamaica since June. It’s the longest I’ve ever been out of the states at one stretch. And boy, let me tell you, for all of the problems this country has – I love it to death.

It is so good to be back home. There truly is no place like it (wherever it is for you), right?

Hope you’re enjoying the holidays. Now mine officially begin. I tend to go all out with decorating. One of my sisters is like, “Please, no more Christmas stockings!” I buy a few every year and have probably going on 50 so far. Tonight I’m going to pick up a few more and decorate my fireplace mantle. The rest of the decorations will go up this weekend. Can’t wait!

P.S.: Learn more about how to work on your freelance business – instead of “in” it – in How to Build a Six-Figure Freelance Business by Outsourcing (The Freelance Writer’s Outsource Package). Paying freelancers / outsourcers is covered — and a host of other “how to freelance” business questions.

P.P.S.: Ditch Your Job and Start a Successful Career as an SEO Copywriter? Get SEO Copywriting Training Today. Discount offered until end of year (12/31/2011).
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SEO Content Writing Questions: What’s the Difference between Web Copy and an Article? Does Web Copy Cost More?

Editor Note: The SEO Copywriter Training Class is Discounted Thru the End of the Year. Ready to change your life and start a truly doable, work-from-home business earning $50-$75K/year? This training will get you there. It’s the ideal holiday gift — to yourself!

Boy, I can’t tell you how many “success stories” pour in from new SEO writers every day. And of course, this means more questions, which I’m happy to answer. A couple of weeks ago, I received the following email from a freelance writer who was just getting started in SEO. On 11/23, she wrote:


Hi Yuwanda,

After a long absence, I’m getting back into freelance writing. I bit the bullet and sent out about 5 emails to seo companies to test the waters. I received my first response (so excited and nervous) from a potential client who has a few questions which don’t seem too difficult, but when push comes to shove, I start to doubt myself. I just want to appear like I know what I’m doing. Here is what the client asked:

1.       Web Copy (per page up to 550 words) SEO optimised

2.       Web Copy SEO re-writes (per page up to 550 words)

3.       Blog Posts (researched and written 350 words +)

4.       Press Releases (researched and written 350 words +)

5.       Articles (researched and written 550 words +) 

* Could you tell me the main difference between a Web Copy and an article? * Do I charge more for a Web Copy than an article?

* Also, re Web Copy SEO rewrites, does this mean the article is already written but just needs improvement, perhaps with added keywords? I know you discuss rates often but not sure how to price rewrites.

Also, I’ve only written 1 blog post – I’ve never written a press releases although I know how to do them. I have sample press releases that I created for my own portfolio. Should I admit to the client that I haven’t written a lot of blog posts and press releases, or should I just be confident that I can write them and go ahead and provide my rates for these?

I sincerely appreciate everything you share with your subscribers. You have been more than good to us.

take good care,
~M

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 My Answers

Following are my answers to all of the above.

1. Could you tell me the main difference between a Web Copy and an article?

The terms are used interchangeably. Web copy is just an article. Usually, when clients use the term “web copy,” they are referring to existing content on their site and/or content that they want you to write for their site. 

For example, if it’s a legal site, they may have several niches. So, they may want you to write the “Services” pages, eg, Criminal Law Services We Offer; Civil Law Services We Offer; Family Law Services We Offer; etc. 

2. Do I charge more for a Web Copy than an article?

RE SEO writing rates, web copy usually costs more than an article, because it may require some research – specific to a client’s niche and their business (eg, providing professional profiles of the attorneys). And, these pages tend to be longer (eg, 600-1,000 words).

An (SEO) article, on the other hand, is usually a defined piece of content, eg, give us a 400-word article on this keyword (criminal law Baltimore). Usually, clients will leave the subject matter up to you.

At New Media Words, for web copy, we work by the hour ($45/hour). BUT, we usually work out a project rate for clients so they know exactly what they’re getting. We also ask them to forward as much research material as they can, which cuts down on the amount of research we have to do.

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3. Re Web Copy SEO rewrites, does this mean the article is already written but just needs improvement, perhaps with added keywords?

I did an assignment like this the week before Thanksgiving (rewrote copy for a client to avoid the duplicate content penalty).  The reasons clients request rewrites are usually because of one of the following:

i) It is existing content that the client wants rewritten to avoid the duplicate content penalty

ii) It is existing content that the client wants to repurpose (eg, for another site, another division, update with stats); and/or to

iii) It is content that — ass you point out — a client wants to “SEO up/down/right.” To explain, many sites have been hit hard by search engine algorithmic updates (eg, the Google Panda Update). Remember when I wrote about these updates meaning more work for SEO writers back in the spring? Well, this linked-to post explains why re-writes are becoming such a popular request.

4. I know you discuss [SEO writing] rates often but [I’m] not sure how to price rewrites:

See answer in number #2 above.

Remember, clients like “project rates” because they know exactly what they’re going to be paying. For the rewrites I did, for example, it was based on my SEO writing company’s hourly rate of $45, but with a discount because it was 5 pages and once I saw it, I knew I could knock it out fairly quickly.

When pricing rewrites, always keep in mind how long it’s going to take you to do it, and how many pages there are. FYI, rewriting pages can take just as long – or longer – than writing them from scratch ESPECIALLY if the client wants you to keep “basically the same wording” but make it unique. 

So just know that going in.

Hmmmm, might knock out a pamphlet about this – because rewrites are becoming a common request and there’s quite a bit more I could say about this.

5. Should I admit to the client that I haven’t written a lot of blog posts and [SEo] press releases, or should I just be confident that I can write them and go ahead and provide my rates for these?

Never, ever admit what you don’t know to a client if you can do the job – UNLESS they specifically ask. If you can handle the assignment, proceed.

We all have to start somewhere – and all they care about are results. And not for nothing, when you start telling clients what you “can’t do/have never done,” it plants seeds of doubt in their minds. And, they may just move on to the next writer; and/or be extra-hard on you because you’re a newbie.

FYI, if you’ve blogged for yourself – then you’ve “written” blog posts. If you know how to write press releases and have created some for your portfolio, then you “know” how to write press releases.

Period.

Stop thinking like a beginner and proceed like a professional; ok? You’ve obviously done a lot right – they responded to your query. Don’t doubt yourself now. 

Good luck – and congrats!
Yuwanda

Related Posts 

SEO Copywriting Tip: How Much of a Page Should Be Unique Content before Google Will Count It as a “Quality Page?”

Freelance Writers: 10 Reasons the Google Panda Update Makes (SEO) Article Marketing Even More Effective & Means More Work for You

P.S.: Learn how to create multiple freelance income streams. Get Living the Freelance Life! How I Live Internationally and Have Earned a Living Completely Online Since 2007 & You Can Too, a free ebook. SeoWritingJobs.com is an InkwellEditorial.com property.

P.P.S.: Ditch Your Job and Start a Successful Career as an SEO Copywriter? Get SEO Copywriting Training Today. Discount offered until end of year (12/31/2011).
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Find this post informative? Follow Us on Twitter.

Submit a Guest Post: This site and its parent site, InkwellEditorial.com, now accept guest posts. Get the guest post submission guidelines.

Want to avoid freelance writing dry spells by making extra money as an affiliate marketer? Learn how to earn $50-$150/day online pretty seamlessly in the best-selling ebook, How to Make Money Placing Ads on Free Classified Ad Sites. Updated with 2011 PayPal screen shot of earnings!

Copyright © 2011: All material on this site is copyright protected and cannot be reproduced in any manner whatsoever without the publisher’s written consent (linking to is fine).