Setting Your Freelance Writing Rate

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So you have a few blog posts on your website and you’ve written a guest post or two, and gotten great feedback.

In fact, people you guest posted for have reached out as potential clients and asked if you would be interested in creating content for them on an ongoing basis.

Their standard question will be: What are your rates and turnaround time like?

How do you answer? What is the average rate for a brand-new freelance writer? What pay rates are too high or too low? Do you try to come across as an experienced writer and charge more?

Fret not! The good news is we can get all these questions answered. This article will walk you through setting your freelance writing rate and the best way to charge fairly for both the clients and new writers such as yourself.

Setting Your Freelance Writing Rate

So how much should you actually, actually charge for writing? Freelance writer rates is not really about ‘charging what you’re worth’, but really being realistic about how much time it’ll take you, business expenses, scope of project, and more.

When I was first asked to join a team of content writers in a writing agency, I was offered 2 cents as a per-word rate.

I was a total rookie, but I refused, because I firmly believed that being paid this much meant going through a content mill – writing lots and lots of content and being paid very low rates. 

Some writers in the industry still seem to think this is acceptable – but many are learning that even as new freelancers, the going rate should, at the very minimum, be $0.12 per word. There are reasons behind this and we’ll expound on them in a bit.

There are many ways to charge potential clients. We’ll go through them shortly – you can charge by the project, by word, or by the hour – but these base calculations largely depend on several factors listed below.

Your Niche/Industry

Some niches pay higher rates than others, and some industries pay lower word rates than others.

Quick example: If you have experience writing medical articles that require you to know medical terms and jargon, your freelance writing rates will naturally be higher – a lot higher.

The same goes for more technical writing that includes scientific words and processes and the ability to string them together to produce a coherent sentence.

Your Writing Level And Experience

The more experienced you are, the higher rates you’ll be able to command, and vice versa.

Generally for beginners, you start off charging low rates. There is nothing wrong with that, but remember as time goes on, instead of settling for lower rates, you should gradually increase them to match your skills and experience level.

Your Business Expenses

You may wonder what that is – as new freelancers, we obviously do not have a team of writers working for us – what expenses am I actually referring to?

A few off the bat would be:

  • Your time
  • Your monthly subscriptions to writing tools
  • Your monthly subscriptions to keyword research tools
  • Taxes you may have to pay

If you’re working in a company, you’ll be entitled to paid leaves, medical leaves, and insurance.

As a freelancer, all these factors have to be factored into your writer rates to not only make it worth your while but also be able to keep the market price fair for all other freelancers.

Trust me, no freelancer likes lowballers, especially from another freelancer.

Source: Freelance to Fortune

Your Project Scope

Decide how many hours it’ll take you to finish this project.

If you’re charging per project and not by the hour, the more time you need for the project will correlate with the price you’re charging. Some writers use a time tracker (such as Clockify). This helps you to eventually be able to give a proper project rate based on the number of hours you’ll need to put in.

If you’re writing a magazine article (which may require fewer words) or a sales landing page (meaning you’re a copywriter), you can set a flat rate of $500 per article or per landing page. An experienced freelance content writer can charge anywhere between $2,000 to $7,000 for one sales page or landing page copy, simply because they can ensure conversions.

Another example: You can charge anywhere between $60-$150 for a 500-word article, and $200 onwards for a 1,000-word article.  For beginners, that is.

Seasoned freelancers can charge $700 onwards for a 2000-word article and command a monthly retainer of $2,500-$3,000 for writing one article a week.

Your Network

If you have a strong network of entrepreneurs and friends you know need content writing and content marketing services, you may be able to find freelance writing jobs more easily, albeit not necessarily at the best rates, but always ensure you charge minimum wages and add on extras where necessary.

Once you’ve gained enough experience and written over 10 different articles, it’ll be time for you to increase your freelance rates.

Pro tip: Always quote a price range instead of a flat fee. 

Network with more writers and read up on more freelance writing rates so you have an idea of what the going rate is, what new or seasoned writers charge, and are familiar with the different rates that apply to the different types of writing.

Easier said than done, of course – but this is an ongoing process. If you want a sustainable freelance writing business, you will need to eventually have a strong pricing model that includes the base rate, high rates, a good hourly rate range, and decent per-word pricing rates. Hence, always be on top of the latest rates and pair that with your skill level.

Freelance writing quote by Phillip Paquette

Source: Freelance to Fortune

What Are The Current Going Rates For Freelance Writers? How Much Money Can You Make?

According to ZipRecruiter, as of October 30, 2022, the average annual pay for a freelance writer is $68,622. That works out to an approximate $1,319 per week and $5,718 per month.

These figures are not set in stone. The more work you take on, the more you’ll get paid. Different types of writing skills will come with different types of rates. Larger projects will come with higher paychecks. In fact, technical writing can pay you over $80,000 per year, mainly because of the qualifications and skills required.

If you’ve been wondering whether freelance writing will be able to provide you with a consistent income, it can. The figures above show you how much freelance writers are in demand and how much companies and businesses are willing to pay for high-quality freelance writing services.

For example, when I was fairly new and asked to do content creation for a company, this was my quote:

$2,000 monthly for

4 x 1,500-word blog posts a month

4 social media post curation a month

5 hours of social media engagement a week (one hour per day)

My calculations:

$0.20 per word x 1500 words = $300 per blog post (making it $1200 a month for 4 blog posts)

$30 per hour for 10 hours (5 hours of community engagement and another 5 for keyword research, hashtag research, and social media post captions for 4 posts)

You can see here I had a per-hour rate and also a per-word pricing.

I was hired.

The typical rate for beginner writers will be $0.12 per word onwards.

Many writers recommend charging per project, but for rookies, if you’re unsure of how to charge, giving per-word pricing is more clear-cut and places you on surer ground.

When you finally get enough confidence and enough social proof to back your work up and are used to taking on projects, then having either a flat project fee or per-project pricing will be the way to go.

Freelance writing rate and income in 74 freelancers

Source: Freelance to Fortune

According to this chart where 74 writers were asked to share their monthly income by blogger Jess, over 22 freelance writers were making $2,000 after only 6 months of freelance writing, and this was on a part-time basis!

There is definitely potential in writing as a freelance career.

The Industry Standards For A Freelance Writing Rate

Who Pays Writers contains a list of publications that you may be writing for. If you’re unsure of how much to charge, simply select the publication you have in mind and you’ll be able to see the most common rate(mostly based on word count)paid out by these companies or publications.

Freelance writing rate by publications

Different Types Of Writing And The Freelance Writing Rate For Each 

By now, you should know that you can charge:

  • By the hour (billable hours)
  • Per word
  • Per project

The best way to go will be to charge per project because after a few projects you’ll roughly know the amount of time you need as well as the amount of research that will be included in your scope of work. 

Add that with your skill sets, years of experience, and estimated business expenses, and you’ll be able to come up with a fair quote that keeps you motivated enough to want to overdeliver and give the client great content, yet keeps the prospective client happy.

Charging by the hour or per word are also popular options, but with billable hours, you will require a time tracker which can be stressful and give you unnecessary pressure. As freelancers, we want to work when we can, and not be tied down to the computer by a time tracker.

You can also refer to the Editorial Freelancers Association (EFA) for suggested writing rates. If you’re a freelance copywriter, you’ll be able to charge $46-$50 per hour for a sales page, a landing page, or a website copy. This does not mean you charge the same way for writing magazine articles or blog content (especially if you’re new) because as mentioned above, different types of content come with different types of rates.

Side note: 

Writing white papers gives you one of the highest paid salaries in the writing industry. White papers are specialized documents by companies and sales teams that persuade buyers to choose their brand over another. It requires a deep knowledge of the art of persuasion and understanding your intended avatar.

You can charge $2,000 onwards for white papers projects to making over $300,000 per year, according to Elna Cain.

For more information on the different types of writing you can do as a freelancer, check out this blog post. It’ll help you decide the type of writing jobs you think may suit you better, as well as the platforms you can apply to get hired on.

You can also check out more detailed copyediting rates here or use a freelance calculator that helps you to know what to charge based on your income goals.

Freelance rate calculator

The most important thing to remember is that as a beginner, it is OK to start off with making less money and eventually increasing your writer charges. As you grow your freelance business and maybe eventually hire a team of professional writers managing all sorts of different projects, you’ll have a better idea of how you should pay your writers and the different ways you can use to calculate a reasonable rate depending on how much work they do, how much time they put in as well as the different industries of writing involved.

How To Eventually Increase Your Freelance Writing Rate, A Little Bit At A Time

As you grow in experience and expand your writing skills, your charges and rates will naturally increase.

Here are a few ways to be able to charge higher rates and have your clients think these rates are totally justified!

Freelance writing quote by Karine

Source: Freelance to Fortune

Add Social Proof

Every time you write for a company, plug in their feedback and their logo on your website. The more logos you have, the more experienced and skilled you’ll seem.

Social proof on writer's website

Example: Kaleigh Moore

Here’s the feedback I got for a post I wrote for a digital marketing company.

Social proof on writing work

Increase Your Rates Slowly

Some writers increase their rates with every client until they reach the freelance writing rate they’re happy with.

Freelance writing rate quote by Michael Keenan

Source: Freelance to Fortune

Wrapping Up

You know how the industry rates for writers.

You know how much they can make based on the different types of freelance writing niches they’re in.

You know how to charge by the hour, per word, or per project.

You also know how to increase your freelance writing rate a little bit at a time and how social proof will help you justify those new rates.

You have a lot of tables to fall back on for reference and even have a freelance calculator.

You should have a very good idea of how much you should be charging, whether you’re a new writer or a seasoned freelancer. 

Now go out there, start writing, and start making good money!

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