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Your business has content needs, and you need to contract it out. So, you peruse all the various writing firms to do some comparison shopping.

Finally, after a couple of days, you pair down your list to about a dozen firms you’re interested in. That’s when the troubles start – prices vary wildly. Some firms are charging $10 for a 500 word article, while other firms are charging $100.

And you liked all the companies, too. Of course, it’s tempting to hire the cheapest one, but is that wise? After all, everyone has heard of the saying, “You get what you pay for.” Does that apply to this situation? What if you liked the most expensive company but can’t quite afford them? Should you be nervous about hiring someone more cost effective?

When it comes to buying high quality articles, it’s all about testing, said David Tile, owner and president of Nimble Media.

Industry Prices are “Insanely Elastic”

Don’t feel guilty if you’re farming out the work to a freelancer or writing firm. About six in 10 companies outsource their content, Mashable says. Furthermore, marketers spend about a quarter of their overall marketing budget on content marketing, according to B2B Marketing Insider. It comes down to resources: most companies don’t have a writer on staff, or they’re simply not confident or have the time to handle the content.

The problem, Tile said, is that the market for content is “insanely elastic.”

“You’ll find companies delivering work at the $100 mark that’s equal to the work of companies that’ll do the same content for $20,” Tile said, “However, you’ll find some companies that charge $100 that are leaps and bounds better than $20-a-story companies, but you’ll also find that the reverse is true. Content from (Nimble Media) at $20, for example, is … closer to something you’d get from companies charging $100 for it.”

So when you’re buying high quality articles, give a few companies you’re interested in a trial run (if your budget allows for that).

“So you test it out,” Tile said. “I once purchased 25 articles for $25 total, and I’m not kidding, three or four of the articles came back in Spanish, all were terrible, and I never heard from him again.”

“If you’re willing to burn $120 on two companies – one that charges $100 and one that charges $20 – then you can give both companies the same article and test their services,” Tile said. “If the $20 article will suffice, then you go with them.”

Other Considerations

Before hiring anyone, though, you have other factors to consider. For example, if you find a company you like that’s within your budget but can’t seem to connect with them on the phone or Skype, then that could be a sign of things to come. And you should look over the actual content on the prospective writing firm’s website. If it’s full of grammar and punctuation errors, then that’s a red flag, too.

“It’s a simple matter of testing,” Tile said. “If you like what you see (from the tests), then give the job to the more cost-effective company.”

meJake Rigdon is the executive editor at Article-Writing, a content marketing firm based out of Toronto. You can reach him on FacebookLinkedInGoogle+Twitter or by email at jake@nimblemedia.ca.