moneyOnce 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.

profits 2Know 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!

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Maggie Linders is the author of "Freelance Writing Riches," an income-boosting blueprint for freelance writers. She is also the creator of the popular "Freelance Profit Academy," an information-packed, coaching-focused membership program that teaches freelance writers how to start, build and maintain full-time, high-earning freelance writing careers.

This Post Has 17 Comments

  1. Thank you so much for this article! I learned more than I have searching the web for the last few days!! I’m grateful 🙂

  2. Useful article, but what would you charge for proofreading and copy editing? this is what I mainly do, rather than writing stuff myself, although I do sometimes produce press reports. As you say, when starting out, one tends to under-charge in order to get the gig! My first project was a novel written by an acquaintance. She told me it had already been edited by another friend, and just needed a final check and tidying up. I assumed it would only take me a few hours and agreed to do it for her offer of 100 euros (around $112). Well, I figure all her friend had done was to run it through a spell checker! It needed lots of work and ended up taking me ten full working days, but she would only pay what we had agreed. She has now written another novel. I told her, “If you want me to edit that one, I will need to charge properly”, at which she snapped, “Don’t price yourself out of the job!” and I’ve heard nothing from her since.

    1. Hi Sally,

      Thanks for your question. A few things I would say here…

      1. Make sure to get as much information about the project beforehand as possible. This way you can more effectively charge what you think the project is worth. You will likely need to see what you will be editing before you even give your quote. When you do, you will have a much better idea of how long the project will take you and what the project is worth to you.

      2. There will always be people who won’t pay you what you think you are worth. In those cases, you have to decide if taking that job is worth it to you. Maybe it will get you more exposure, or you may be having a slow month and just need a little extra work. But, generally, if after you calculate how many hours you think the project will take, you will be earning way less than your desired hourly rate, you will have to decline. I would come up with a low number, an hourly rate that you are not
      willing to go under and stick to that. This leaves room to work with
      higher-paying clients.

      And, $112 for ten working days comes out to about $1.40 / hr. That is pennies. You are worth way more than that! Bravo to you for speaking up and demanding more money the next time around.

      I hope this helps!

      Maggie

  3. Maggie, many thanks for your quick and helpful reply, and your useful tips. I wish I’d been in touch with you when i first started this work!

  4. Hi Maggie! I am so happy I found your website! Thank you for sharing your experiences as a freelance writer with those of us who are trying to learn, grow as writers, and generally just make a name for ourselves in this competitive industry! I have found your articles and tips incredibly helpful, as I am aspiring to make a living as a writer–something that has seemed unimaginable to me despite having an Ivy League education and advanced degrees. No one seems to have the capacity to fathom that someone with my education is unable to find work–the kind of work I enjoy doing–which would ideally be the kind of “Social Media Management” writing projects you described in one of your articles. I have, unfortunately, had some setbacks due to my health; thus, freelance writing and telecommuting projects are something of a necessity for me. I appreciate the invaluable advice and tools you have provided to assist others like me who want or need to be their own boss. Thank you so much for ALL of your great advice! I look forward to utilizing many of your tips and tricks to hopefully establish my own business as a freelance writer.❤️

    1. That was so nice to read Shanna, thank you so much! Helping people like you is highly rewarding to me. Please let me know if there is anything else I can do for you. Good luck and please keep me updated on your progress!

      Maggie 🙂

  5. P.S. I cannot let a fellow writer have typos on their website, so please be advised that your ordering page for your CD/DVDs says you can “doube” your income. Obviously, it should say “double.” So, just an FYI. : )

  6. Hi Maggie, Thanks for your enthusiastic attitude – it rubs off. As I’m just starting, and therefore still to build up a portfolio, Sally’s comment below about ” proofreading and copy editing” made me wonder if that might not be a suitable start for me (I also have eagle-eyes! – it’s so easy to see others’ mistakes 🙂 )

  7. Thanks for this great advice, Maggie.

    One question – you said above

    “If you think your mindset may be keeping you from attracting the right clients, read this blog post [LINK].”

    What’s the LINK for the blog post? 🙂

  8. Thanks for sharing your extremely practical formulas Maggie!

    Practically anyone,can adjust and customize them, to meet their current
    or future needs.

    Or, if need be, your proven formula, helps them at least,have a much better idea,
    of how to properly go about setting their initial rates.

    And they can justify them to their clients, if asked to!Thanks
    for sharing such a practical, and easy to both understand and implement formula!

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