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Tips for Negotiating Freelance Writing Contracts with Writers as a Publisher

Freelancers booming! Master negotiating freelance writing contracts to build winning publisher-writer teams. Get expert tips here!

According to projections by Statista, freelancers will make up roughly 50% of the workforce by 2027. And with freelance work on the rise like this, it has become more important than ever for publishers to effectively negotiate freelance writing contracts with their writers. 

Now, taking the time to reach a fair and mutual agreement instead of insisting that someone sign a basic contract (or none at all) may take a little extra effort, sure. But since it’s meant to protect the interests of and clarify expectations from both parties, a well-negotiated contract can go a long way in ensuring a smooth and successful working relationship.

So, in this article, we’re going to give you some tips on negotiating freelance writing contracts with writers as a publisher.

1. Define the Scope of Your Project

Before you start any kind of negotiations, it’s essential to define the scope of your project for your freelance writing contract. For example, what are your goals? What kind of deliverables are you expecting from the writer? Do you have a specific deadline in mind?

When you’re clear on exactly what you require from the project, it makes it that much easier for a writer to give you an accurate quote for their work. It also helps prevent scope creep, which occurs when the requirements for a writing assignment end up increasing over time.

It’s true that scope creep is typically more of an issue for writers than publishers - after all, it’s not affecting the amount of work that you’re putting into the project. But if it ends up causing a writer to abandon the assignment altogether, then you’re back at square one.

2. Do Your Research, and Set a Budget

Once you know exactly what you’ll need from a writer, you should set a budget. How much are you willing to pay for this writing project?

It may be tempting to set a budget and rate as low as possible to see if anyone bites. But remember that old adage: you get what you pay for. If you’re looking for the type of high-quality content that you can only get from an experienced writer, then suggesting a rate that’s too low may cause them to laugh in your face.

This is why research is key to effectively negotiating writing contracts. By looking into the average market rates for the type of writing you need for a project, you’ll be able to set a more realistic budget for your writer. And this can give you a great starting rate to work with for negotiations.

3. Set Up a Fair Payment Structure

While researching market rates can give you an idea of what your budget should look like, it’s important to consider your particular project. Some articles may require more work than others, even if they’re all the same length, and your payment structure should reflect that.

Let’s consider, for example, a base rate vs a project rate for a 1000-word article. A base rate may be fine for the average article, but if you’re looking for something in-depth that requires a lot of research, links, and SEO-related (search engine optimization) work, then it may be better to offer a project rate that better reflects these demands.

After outlining the scope of your project, you may even want to begin negotiations by letting the writer suggest a rate, and seeing what they think is fair. However, keep in mind that freelancers, especially newer ones, often underprice themselves. 

So, if what they’re saying is under market value, be honest about your budget, and try to come up with a fair price together. This is especially important if you want to establish a long-term working relationship.

4. Aim for a Long-Term Working Relationship

As a busy publisher, you probably have better things to do than constantly vetting and hiring new freelance writers. It can be a challenge to find one that delivers quality work on time as it is! So, if you’re lucky enough to find one of these gems, then you should definitely consider this during the contract negotiation process.

You may start off with a basic contract, but over time, consider offering them more. It could be in the form of a promotion, a raise, more flexibility, or just more projects. Good workers are hard to find, and the negotiation phase is a great time to show your appreciation.

5. Be Clear About Your Expectations Regarding AI

With the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) tools, it has become essential to clearly outline your expectations regarding their use in writing projects. After the March 2024 update, Google appears to be penalizing sites that have suspected AI-generated content, and you likely don’t want the same thing happening to you or your clients.

So, when negotiating with a writer, be sure to specify your AI policy. For many publishers, this means running a writer’s blog posts or articles through an AI content detection tool before payment or publication. And if you want avoid any false positives (hey, it happens!), you can have them install Originality’s free AI Detector Chrome Extension so you can get a closer look at their entire content creation process.

By being upfront about your AI policy and writing it into your contracts, you can help ensure that you’re getting the 100% original content you need from freelancers. It also prevents the writers from unknowingly using AI in a way that could result in them spending extra time on rewrites or losing you as a client altogether.

A Freelance Writing Contract Should Benefit Both Publishers and Writers

It may be tempting to negotiate a freelance writing contract in such a way that it mostly benefits your company. But as a publisher, you should aim for a fair, equitable agreement that is in both of your best interests. 

Fortunately, by clearly outlining the scope of projects and your AI policy, setting a realistic budget and pay structure, and laying the groundwork for a long-term working relationship, you should be able to successfully negotiate a contract that benefits everyone. Good luck!

Jess Sawyer

Jess Sawyer is a seasoned writer and content marketing expert with a passion for crafting engaging and SEO-optimized content. With several years of experience in the digital marketing, Jess has honed her skills in creating content that not only captivates audiences but also ranks high on search engine results.

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