How we charge for content

How we charge for content





How we charge for content


Tony Hallett
Managing director

Tony set up Collective Content in 2011 so brands can more easily become publishers and tell stories. This built on 15 years in media, from reporter to publishing director at Silicon Media Group, CNET Networks and CBS Interactive.

Agencies – like some other companies – don’t often talk too loudly or publicly about how they charge what they charge. You know the reasons why. They include not wanting to give that information away to competitors, not wanting to put off some prospective buyers with high numbers, and the fact that many B2B services are a consultative sell, often over months and at least as often based on quality and timeliness.

In the business-to-consumer world, you equally know that advertising prices happens almost all the time. Sometimes it’s hard to navigate the B2B dance when we live our personal lives as consumers.

photo credit: Sergey Zolkin via Unsplash (licence)
photo credit: Sergey Zolkin via Unsplash (licence)

So what can we reveal? In a similar way to others, we’re not about to divulge our rate card here. However, we can tell you we have two main ways of charging our clients. And we think one of them says a lot about working with a content agency.

The first way is common to many agencies and professional services businesses. We charge by the hour.

But the second way surprises some clients who are used to working with marketing agencies. We charge by the word.

By the word? Sure. Sometimes the ‘by the word’ rate is used to estimate the size of a project, and we put in a flat quote. But other times we literally invoice our final figures based on X many words at the agreed rate.
This can seem odd to some clients, just as it might to some other agencies. But it’s grounded in the world we come from.

Collective Content was founded by writers, editors and others who have spent years in the media. We even see that as a kind of agency superpower. With an editorial background, we are different to some other content marketing agencies, a delineation that others have also recognised. And editors have long commissioned and paid by the word.

This is often crude. For one thing, writing short can be harder than writing long. Sure, when there is a project creep – a 10-page white paper that becomes a 20-page e-book, for example – we get paid for the extra work. But editing everything down into a one-pager? That’s often where our other charging mechanism comes in.

After all, you wouldn’t charge for a four-word tag line on a per-word basis. Some of the most famous take months and have a big agency price tag to go with all the work.

But for all the crudeness, a per-word approach is simple. Clients tend to like that simplicity.

For us, this simplicity is in contrast to agencies who obscure just how they get to a final price on a piece of work.

It also helps us when we source and pay external talent who aren’t on staff, usually those who are subject matter experts we don’t call on every month. They too get paid per-word. The transparency works for what we pay out as well as what we pull in. And of course these writers get it – they’ve spent years as journalists working this way.

As we’ve said before in this series, expect transparency from your agencies. We previously covered how that applies to who you get to work with. But it’s also about how and how much you get charged.

Follow us on Twitter – @ColContent