Once you’ve built a website and portfolio, perfected your pitch, and started catching the attention of clients, you’ll eventually have to field that inevitable question: “What do you charge?”
This is a nerve-wracking question for any person, especially for those who are just starting out and learning how to become a freelance writer.
The key is to present your freelance writing rates confidently and without apologies. Remember, it’s your presentation—not necessarily the numbers—that will make or break a job offer.
Rates will be different for every freelance writer. There are a lot of factors that go into setting fees: experience, subject matter, required research, interviews, geographic location, and volume of work, to name a few.
In today’s article, I will discuss how to figure out your rates based on what YOU want to earn.
NOTE: There are other factors that go into this such as the size of the client’s business, their budget and the level of experience required for the job, among others, but for the sake of brevity, I am going to cover just your personal needs in this blog post, which is one of the most important factors to reaching your income goals.
Below are some important tips to keep in mind when setting freelance writing rates. By adhering to these, you’ll be on track to hit your earnings milestones.
Don’t go too low
Many freelancers make the fatal mistake of setting their rates too low, because they don’t feel they are justified in charging more. This is understandable for new writers who are trying to land their first few gigs, but there is no reason for experienced, skilled freelance writers to undervalue their work.
One of the main perks of freelancing is that you have control over your income. When working with direct clients, you’re in the driver’s seat.
Don’t underestimate your earning power. Remember, quality clients expect to pay fair market rates for quality work. If you underbid, they may assume your output isn’t up to par. The old adage “you get what you pay for” applies here.
The key is having the right mindset. If you believe that your experience and skills warrant higher rates, your clients will also believe it. If you think your mindset may be keeping you from attracting the right clients, read this blog post.
If you have trouble raising your rates because you think your writing is not worth a specific rate, it could be fear-based. I’ve been there and I can help. I wrote this free report called “Freelance Writing Fear Smashers” and it shows freelance writers how to gain confidence and become well-paid, successful writers. It includes all of my fear-overcoming strategies and EXACTLY what I did to beat this myself. Please download this free report now and experience a positive life change!
Calculate your target hourly rate
Even if you don’t invoice on an hourly basis, you’ll need to determine the minimum amount you need to make per hour. This will serve as your basis when setting a project fee.
Here, you’ll need to distinguish between billable hours and working hours. It would be nice if we got paid for every minute of work, but that’s not the case with freelance writing. You’ll likely spend a big chunk of time on marketing, emailing, networking, blogging, and other tasks that aren’t directly tied to an invoice.
So if you decide to work 40 hours a week, it’s probably safe to estimate that 20-30 of those hours will be billable. And you may decide that you’ll work 40 weeks out of the year to account for vacations and time off.
Let’s say you need to make $50,000 a year to meet your financial needs. The calculation would look like this:
- $50,000 / working 40 weeks = $1,250 per week
- $1,250 per week at 20 billable hours = $62.50 per hour
If that hourly rate seems too high or too low, adjust the other numbers until it seems realistic.
Use this formula to find your goal:
(Salary Goal / working weeks) / weekly billable hours = hourly rate
Every writer will have different numbers, and a different result.
Adapt your hourly rate to a per-word or per-project rate
Now that you have a target hourly rate, use that to calculate a quote for a project.
For instance, let’s say you can write approximately 1,000 words per hour. If you take your hourly rate and divide it by 1,000 ($62.50/1,000), you get 6.25. That means you need to make a minimum of 6.25 cents per word. Feel free to add a cent or two to account for any extra research or other extenuating circumstances.
So, if the client requests a per-word rate, you could say 7 or 8 cents per word. But if they want a flat project fee for a 1,000-word article, you could multiply 1,000 by .07 (7 cents a word) to get a $70 fee, or if you charge 8 cents a word it would be $80.
Know when to raise your rates
As your experience and client roster grows, so should your rates. Once you’ve built a robust portfolio and proved your capabilities, you can start charging more. That’s yet another perk of freelancing – you don’t have to wait for a boss to give you a raise.
If any of the following apply, you’re justified in requesting an increase:
- You’ve gained considerable experience since you first started working with a client.
- You’ve become a more efficient and skilled writer.
- You’re getting more offers of work from new clients who are willing to pay higher prices.
Once again, it’s all about having the right mindset, and presenting your new rates with confidence. Most established companies have healthy budgets for talent. As you raise your rates, you’ll gradually start attracting more of those types of clients.
So… how much do I charge?
I started out like any other freelance writer, accepting lower rates for the sake of building my skills and collecting writing samples.
When I began my freelance writing journey, I worked for content mills and earned $9 an article. I then transitioned to working with direct clients and charged $20 per article and $5 for revisions.
Month after month, year after year, I continued to raise my rates.
Today, I have many clients who pay in the range of a minimum of 22+ cents a word for basic work and much more for online website content, specialized blog posts, case studies, eBooks and print ad work. I don’t write much myself anymore, but when I do, I charge top dollar for it.
What is the moral of this story??
With talent, hard work, and the right mindset, you can realize the same earnings potential. Good luck!!
Do you have any questions about freelance writer rates? Please list them in the comments!
Don’t forget to check out my other posts related to freelance writing rates. I know this is a difficult subject so feel free to browse around and ask me any questions. I’m here for you!