Cause you know I’m all about those rates, ‘bout those rates…
Today I am tackling freelance writing rates, and I am not going to lie. Talking about rates makes me want to poke my eyes out. Freelance rates are all over the place and can be super touchy for some. My goal is to help all writers, especially the new ones, so without further hesitation, let’s get on to the
What Is a Good Rate for Freelance Writers?
Honestly, you can look at what the industry’s standard is and also get input from other websites (usually they are way too low for my liking), but a good freelance rate is one that is fair to you. If you truly want to write for $50 an hour, then I am not going to tell you that you need to charge more.
However, if you do want to charge in a way that is consistent with other successful freelancers, then I suggest your starting rate is between $50-100 an article. This is very beginning rate. I don’t want you lingering in the beginning rate for long. Build up a few clients at this rate and then move on to greener pastures.
A good intermediate rate is $125-200 per article. For experts, $250+ per article is better. For articles that require a lot of research, interviews, and are longer, you need to charge $500 and up.
Why Should I Charge More as a Freelance Writer?
A common mistake I see with new writers is that they want to replace their work pay with freelance writing work. The problem is that if they get $20 per hour in an office, then they are over the moon charging that for their writing. There are so many issues with that rate though.
First, you will have to put many more hours into your freelance writing business than just writing. There will be unpaid hours of pitching, researching new companies/clients, researching articles, interviewing sources for pieces, emailing current clients about current projects, invoicing, editing/revisions and more. I do have a way to compact these tasks so I waste very little time on them, but even if you can compact all of these tasks into five minutes each per day, it still adds up.
Since the administration side of freelance writing can take up five to 10 hours a week, if not more, you want to have a high enough rate to cover them. For example, if I earn $300 on
As a freelancer, you are also responsible for more taxes. Read this great article about taxes because I hate talking about taxes. I am grateful my husband taxes care of that part of my freelance life. Also, if you cannot get health or life insurance through your spouse’s place of employment, expect to pay more for insurance.
Finally, you are responsible for your own expenses as a freelancer too. An in-office position will provide you a computer, internet, and more. When you are on your own, you are responsible for all those costs. Right before Christmas, my husband spilled water on my laptop, and we had to decide to spend $800 for Apple to fix it or spend $999 for a new non-Apple computer (I went with the latter because I wanted to switch to Windows in order to use a few programs).
At my husband’s place of work, if you need any piece of equipment to do your job, you usually get it. He was even able to get a $2,000 standing desk to do his job in a pain-free manner.
All of this to say that $20 an hour is not going to cut it. At that rate, you would earn more and have better benefits working at McDonalds.
Why Clients Should Pay More for Freelancers
Since freelance writing rates are all over the place, some clients expect cheap labor. I recently just had a company email me asking me to do some niche finance tech and software articles about 400-600 words. They then told me the rate would be $35 per article. Ugh! If any writer, new or not, takes that rate then they set up that client’s expectations that they should be able to get articles at that price from anyone. It can snowball from there with many other companies and clients thinking they can get cheap work too.
Clients should expect to pay a decent price for well-written content. For example, if you charge a university $300 for an article and that piece ends up compelling one person to enroll, then that university has made tens of thousands of dollars. The return for content marketing will always be higher than advertising. If done right, content marketing is a trustworthy resource, whereas advertising will always be received with a hint of skepticism.
Not only can content marketing increase a company’s sales, but hiring a freelancer will always be cheaper for the company. Even if they paid you $600 for two articles per week, that is such a small cost compared to hiring a full-time employee at $20 an hour. Hiring a full-time employee means the company has to pay for benefits and possibly office space and utilities. Offering a freelance writer a low rate is just a slap in the face.
Should I Post My Rates on My Site?
There really is no right or wrong answer when it comes to posting your freelance writing rate on your website. However, every time I have seen a rate posted, they are usually too low. One time a writer posted her rates, and I nicely tried to point out how her rates did not make sense for her business. She said her prices started at .15 a word, and then said a 16-20 page book would be $247. If a book has about 200 words per page, then she should charge $30 per page, or at least $480 for a 16-page book. For a 16-page book, she was basically charging .08/per word. She was selling herself short.
A disadvantage with posting your prices on your website is that they might turn away potential business. For example, if I posted that I charge $250-350 for articles, a client might not bother to contact me, thinking I am too expensive. However, if they were to email me, and I got a chance to talk with them, I have a better chance at setting up a package deal that makes sense for their company. I am able to help them see that hiring me under a monthly retainer could get them a better deal and would end up being more beneficial than hiring an in-office content manager.
Ultimately, it is up to you. You can always say that rates start at a certain price to ensure only serious individuals contact you.
Should I Charge Per Hour, Per Word, or Per Project?
I personally like to charge per project because I do not like to track my hours for clients. If I take an hour to write something, I shouldn’t be punished, and if I take five hours to write something, the client shouldn’t be punished. Also, when you tell people you charge $100 an hour, they get a little offended.
When it comes to per word, sometimes it feels too nit-picky. Sometimes clients will ask me to write a 500-word post, but the topic they give me really needs 1,000 words. If I tell them that the topic requires more words, I don’t want them to be sweating over paying more or forcing me to cram a lengthy subject in a brief post. Charging per project fits well for what I do.
Whatever you choose, make sure it fits with your finance goals. If you want to earn $1,000 a week, then figure out how many hours you want to work, and then break it down from there. For example, if you want to earn $1,000 a week and only work 15 hours, then you would need to charge about $67 an hour. Or if you can do five 1,000-word article in 15 hours, you should charge at least $200 an article or at least .20/word.
Your Rates Matter
I am all about charging decent rates for your freelance writing business because I want you to succeed. When I was still new in the freelance game, I was happy to make $20 for a 600-word article. The problem was that I was burning out quickly from trying to write so many articles per month. Not only was I burning myself out, but I was maxing out my income at $1,000 a month. I couldn’t make any more money because I had no more hours or energy to give.
When I started charging more, a funny thing happened. I started working less and burning out less. It is your prerogative to charge low rates, but just know that you are hurting yourself in the long run.