One of the main questions I get asked is what to charge as a freelance writer.
If you’ve searched this question online you’re probably thinking that the answer is as scarce as a mythical creature.
The truth is that there is no set template on what to charge as a freelance writer – which makes it both exciting and frustrating.
Let me tell you a story. When I first started out, I thought that $10 for a 500 word blog post was great. I was so happy to be getting paid for my writing that I didn’t give it too much thought – I was naive. I quickly learned that $10 a pop wasn’t going to pay my bills, especially as it meant that I was actually earning under the minimum wage here in the UK. I started searching for better-paid jobs and increased my prices. These days, I typically earn between $50 – $100 per 500 word post, although that depends on research, topic and if it’s an extended contract.
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What to charge as a freelance writer
In this post, I won’t tell you what to charge as a freelance writer – as I said, there’s no set template or guidelines. But, I can give you a guide to help you set your service pricing so that you can confidently bill your clients without worrying that you’re pricing too low. However, be aware that rates vary depending on your location, niche, service and experience.
Pricing on experience
Usually, pricing for freelance writing content depends on your experience. If you have several years of experience as a freelance writer or you’re a fairly new writer but have vast experience in a certain area, then you’ll be able to charge more than someone with no experience.
One of the best guides for freelance writing rates is from Clear Voice. This guide gives you a rough estimate of what to charge based on your experience and type of content.
This guide is very much in line with what I’ve seen many freelance writers charging, but I’d recommend using it as a basic template, especially if you’re getting started.
However, before you consider your income, take a moment to clearly establish your services.
Pricing per word versus pricing per project
I highly recommend pricing per project as I said in my post on how I went from $15 to $100 per hour.
By charging on a per project basis, you have a better earning potential and your fee is linked to the end result. It’s also a much more attractive process for the client. For instance, if you can write a 500 word article in one hour, some clients may gasp at a $50 per hour rate. Alternatively, $50 for a blog post may seem like a much more attractive prospect.
Your freelance services
Before you consider your rates, it’s important to establish your freelance writing services – what are you going to offer your clients. You might specialise in writing for social media, long-form blog posts or writing product descriptions.
Let’s take a more in-depth look at what you can offer.
Blog posts and articles – these may require research if it’s an extensive article or blog post. If it’s in a niche in which you’re an expert you won’t require much research. It’s important to factor research time in your price.
Pricing example for an article: If we take the Clearvoice guide into consideration, writing a 500-word article for a company based on 8 cents per word would be $40 or around £31. If you’re an experienced writer charging 50 cents per word, a 500-word article would be $250.
Whatever your fee may be for a blog post, you may decide to offer a discounted rate for bulk posts.
Web writing – web writing can include crafting different pages for websites. For example, you might be asked to write a homepage for a service provider. These pages may require a little research on the company you’re writing for.
Social media content – this may include tweets, Instagram content and Facebook posts. These are usually required in bulk, so its likely that you will charge a monthly fee based on X amount of posts.
E-books – An e-book is normally 5000 words plus. Again, pricing on a per project basis is a better option for this type of content.
For editing and proofreading, you might want to check out this guide from the Editorial Freelancers Association on common rates.
Factoring in research
If you’re writing an article or piece of content that requires a lot of research, factor this into your price. Let’s consider that you are writing an article of 1000 words for $100. If you’re comfortable with the topic, you may be able to write this within 2 hours, earning you a nice $50 per hour. However, if you’re writing about a complex topic which requires 5 hours of research, you’re earning far less for your time at just over $14 per hour. If a piece of content requires research, I normally add at least 25% onto the price, obviously depending on how much research is required.
If you’re using job boards to find work, you’ll likely find that pay differs depending on the niche or topic. It’s well known that common topics like lifestyle, celebrity and home etc are less well paid than those that require more expertise. If you want to maximise your earning potential, take a look at the following profitable niches.
Very specific niches – for example, health insurance for business to business or report writing for the finance industry.
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I hope this post has given you a basic idea of what to charge as a freelance writer. Remember, as your experience grows so does your rate. Let me know if you have any thoughts on this topic in the comments!