In newsrooms, several qualities are sought after: Obviously, the ability to write well and accurately. And after that, the ability to write both quickly and concisely becomes hugely important. Quickly matters, because the nature of news is that it’s of-the-moment, and journalists who can create content at a rapid pace enable their organization to lead the conversation. Concisely matters because, in writing, shorter is better. Always. Ask Hemingway.

As a marketing organization, you should be looking for the same qualities in content creators – the ability to be compelling, be accurate, and to do so efficiently.

And yet, most organizations that are pursuing content strategies are disincentivizing those hallmarks of quality content creation. They’re paying for it the wrong way, incentivizing writers in all the wrong ways.

Typically, organizations pay for content in one of the following three ways… none of which is very logical:

By the hour.

This is the traditional way in which consulting services have been sold and purchased. The theory is that the more time the consultant spends on the client’s behalf, the more value is delivered. We know this is ludicrous. Time does not equal value. In fact, it is precisely the wrong incentive in a ever faster marketplace. Customers and prospects are looking for information now; delivering it a week from now is very often worthless, and certainly not worth more.  Very simply, charging by the hour misaligns the goals of the provider and the client. A content creator being paid by the hour is incentivized to take a longer time; not to make it better, but simply to spend more time. Why would you ever hire someone who is less efficient?

By the word.

Long form content has been making a comeback, and that’s good. However, just because a story or blog post is longer doesn’t make it better. In fact, shorter is better on a mobile device. Check that, shorter is always better when it comes to content. You know that movie you went to this past weekend that was half an hour too long? That’s what I’m talking about.

By the story.

Simply paying X dollars per story is more logical than the first two common ways of buying content, but it is limiting. Is the goal of your content strategy really to write 200 blog posts this year? Is that the metric you’re tracking? I didn’t think so.  At Scribewise, we begin a client relationship by trying to figure out the amount of content to be produced – typically, we default to the number of stories. However, we don’t stop there. Because sometimes the strategy will call for fewer stories, or whitepapers, infographics or videos instead of articles. If our clients wanted to pay us X dollars per story, we’re disincentivized from stepping back and thinking strategically about the best content delivery vehicle for them.

When hiring content creators, brands need to figure out who is going to deliver the highest value. When you look up at the end of the year, who will have produced the best content that did the most for your business? Identifying this person or agency isn’t easy, but that’s why you make the big bucks.

Look, at some point we’re going to have to trust each other. You can’t be trying to squeeze every last word of content out of us, and we can’t be trying to squeeze every last penny out of your marketing budget. Figuring out a reasonable budget should be a shared exercise, focused on the anticipated value the content will bring.

Easy? No. Smarter? Yes.