Last Updated on by Michael Brockbank
As a freelance writer, you have the ability to charge clients a fair and reasonable amount. But, how much is a reasonable rate? You don’t want to short-change yourself, but you don’t want to scare away clients, either.
Today, I’ll share a few ways to help determine what your time is worth.
Everyone will have an opinion of setting professional rates. It really depends on what you want as compensation and what seems fair to a potential client.
But, don’t be afraid to haggle over a price. Negotiation is part of being a freelance writer.
How Much Do Freelance Writers Make?
According to Payscale, the median average salary for freelance writers ranges around $40,000 per year in the Denver, Colorado area. Every location is different, and it really depends on where you live vs where the clients are from.
Things such as experience, expertise, industry knowledge, software certifications, and more will also play a major role in how much you can make as a freelance writer.
If you’re writing for content mills such as Textbroker, the pay is based per word. A good writer can make $0.014 per word and up depending on the platform. And although content mills pay out the least, they are great for getting experience and helping beginners get the momentum going.
And I was able to make as much as $25 per hour writing for content mills. But, it takes a great deal of work and motivation to reach that amount.
How to Set Your Professional Rates
When it comes time to set the best rate for yourself, there are several things you need to consider. You don’t want to simply arbitrarily set a fee as it could be less than you’re worth or more than what someone will pay.
Perhaps the best way to determine freelance writer rates is to answer the following questions.
What Are Your Financial Goals?
You need to make sure you’re making enough to sustain yourself. I’ve seen too many writers accept any job regardless of pay just to bring in some money.
In one instance, I demonstrated how a particular writer was actually accepting less than $4 per hour. At that rate, he would have made more money working the register at McDonald’s.
You also need to make sure you’re financial goals are realistic. No client in his or her right mind is going to pay you $100 per word or $1000 per hour.
If you’re unsure, take a look at your city’s data for livable wages and how much freelance writers make in your area.
Personally, I don’t accept anything today that would average out to less than $50,000 per year. But, I also use a writing spreadsheet to help me gauge that amount.
What Makes You the Best Candidate?
In today’s market, you need to set yourself apart from other candidates. It takes more than just being able to type to land some of the well-paying clients.
To help determine the best rate, consider:
- Knowledge of the industry
- Other services you provide, such as images, SEO-focused content, or WordPress use
- Apps that help you write, such as Grammarly
- Your ability to research new material
My point is that you want to highlight everything that helps you create content.
For example, one of the things I offer is optimized content for search engines and readability. I also provide images and image editing as I’ve been using Photoshop since the late 90s.
What Are the Best Rates for Different Types of Gigs?
The next thing to consider for the best rates is the different types of job offers. Not all clients will have the same expectations and not all writers will focus on the same type of pay scale.
The most common types of writing gigs are:
- Pay Per Hour
A pay-per-hour rate is one of the most uncommon platforms that I’ve come across. For the most part, clients don’t trust someone who works remotely to put in the agreed amount of time. However, there are some out there who will.
- Pay Per Word
This is when you chare a set amount for each word you submit. It’s a common platform for content mills as well as many freelance writers.
- Pay Per Project
In this setting, you charge for each individual project, such as a blog post, eBook, or a product description.
- Retainer Contracts
These are my favorite types of gigs. A retainer means you’re paid a set amount regardless of how much you write. It’s a guaranteed income and can be quite lucrative if you negotiate well.
Pay Per Hour
A per-hour freelance writer rate depends on a realistic value of what you want each year versus the amount of time you can actually spend working on a project.
For example, let’s say that you want to make $50,000 per year as a writer. And let’s assume that you can spend up to 6 hours per day actually working on client projects, Monday through Friday.
Based on these numbers, you would probably charge around $32 per hour.
You can also use a freelance hourly rate calculator if you want to fine-tune your own numbers.
Pay Per Word
I’ve seen writers charge anywhere from $1.00 per word all the way up to $10. Though, it depends on how much that particular client is willing to spend.
Something you also need to consider is how some businesses will pay $1.00 per word, but then limit you to one blog post per month. This means you’ll need to line up several clients if you want to bring in a sustainable wage.
For help on landing clients, Megan Grant has some great video tutorials.
Pay Per Project
Setting professional rates per project is another common method among many freelancers. This is when you’d charge a set amount for something like a blog post, sponsored post, news article, or even a product description.
When figuring out a good salary for freelance writers per project, consider how long it takes you on average for what the clients want.
For example, I know it takes me about an hour to write up an 1100 word article. This is because I keep track of everything in my spreadsheet. I can then calculate how much I want depending on the work that goes into the specific project.
A retaining contract means the client pays you regardless of the work you perform. It’s a set freelance writer salary that is often paid monthly or biweekly.
If a client pays you $5,000 per month, that’s how much you’d get whether you write 500 words or 100,000.
The reason I prefer retainers is that it provides a stable and reliable income. Sure, I don’t make overtime and renegotiating every so-many months is a bit of a pain. But, I am guaranteed a set amount, which helps in budgeting my money that month.
There’s a bit more work when it comes to setting up a retainer contract, though. It’s up to what you need to survive and what a client is willing to hand over. Because the client also wants to make sure the work you put in is worth the expense.
How Long Does an Average Project Take?
And lastly, setting up the best rates will depend on how long it takes you for certain kinds of jobs.
Most clients nowadays want jobs completed as quickly as possible. But, it also has to be done right with very few errors. This is part of why many clients offer pay-per-word or pay-per-project gigs.
If you can crank out a well-written, 1000-word blog post in an hour, you can charge more than if it took you three days.
Of course, this also depends on the amount of research and information that is in the piece. Some projects will take much longer simply because of the work entailed.
At this point, you should consider raising the price. Your time is valuable, and you want to make sure you’re compensated enough for the effort you put into the project.
Adding it All Up
Once you’ve hammered out the above questions, you can sit down and figure a reasonable freelance writer salary for yourself.
It probably doesn’t hurt to do some research to see what others are charging for similar services. But in the end, the best rates are those that will make sure your bills are paid.
I can’t stress enough how important it is for you to stick with your compensation, though. Many clients will try to get as much as possible out of you while saving as much money as they can.
Don’t accept a job if it’s not advantageous to you.
Don’t merely settle on a client because “at least it’s work.” There are plenty of clients out there and many ways to find them. If you’re not able to make a livable wage, find a client who will pay what you’re worth.
Figure Out the Best Rate for Your Services
When it comes to the best rates for a freelance writer’s salary, it’ll mostly come down to you as a professional. Everything from what you provide to your financial goals will play a role.
Take time to calculate a reasonable income for yourself. It’ll help you from being taken advantage of by others.
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