What Should I Charge for Freelance Writing Services? It’s a question I get asked a lot.
Knowing what to charge for freelance writing is something that all writers question at some point. After all, you want to be paid well for your time, but you don’t want to scare off a potential client by charging too much.
There are no rules for what to charge for freelance writing services. Some writers charge a flat fee, such as an hourly rate or amount per word, others may charge of a per project basis, and some may be paid a retainer each month for a varied workload.
So, how exactly do you work out what to charge for freelance writing?
And, why are so many writers afraid to discuss what they charge?
I have been a freelance writer for many years, and I have developed my own system as to what to charge for my services. There will be other writers that differ in their opinions, and that’s fine – we all have to work out what we need to charge to live well from our freelance careers.
I’m going to share how I work out my rates for freelance writing.
How to Work Out a Fair Rate
I work out my fees based on three basic things:
The amount of effort involved
How long I estimate it will take
The level of expertise required
All of this helps me decide what to charge per project, or work out a word rate for ongoing projects.
Hopefully, it will help you decide what to charge your own clients.
Base Rate Easy Work
For jobs that require entry level experience and minimal research, I charge £15 per hour. Examples of work I have done for this rate include 300 – 500 word pieces that can literally be cranked out in less than an hour.
I charge this amount because it is well above minimum wage, I work from home so I don’t have travel expenses, plus the convenience of working when I want to. That’s not bad for £15 per hour, in my opinion.
Other writers may gasp at this low rate. But, this is for basic work. I would rather earn £15 per hour writing at home, than working for someone else. Plenty of people go to work every day and earn less than this per hour.
Base Rate for Writing with Intermediate Research
When I am writing blog posts or web content that requires some research, I charge between 0.027 and 0.10 per word, depending on how much research is needed.
Each project is different and requires different amounts of work. I consider each project to work out how long a thousand word piece would take when setting the word rate. The longer I think it will take, the higher the word rate.
For features, such as in online magazines, my rate goes up quite a bit. For around a thousand words, that requires research, quote gathering and possibly interviews, I look for rate of £275 to £325.
You can see an example of one of my feature pieces I wrote for Poultry Digital Magazine here. (I’m a fan of chickens and author of a Smallholding book).
Writing good sales copy is a skill. When deciding copywriting rates, clients are not just paying for your time, but for your expertise.
Each brand you work with will have its own voice, and you need to be able to work in that style throughout.
I wrote copy for a retro sweet shop, where everything had to sound like I was high on sugar. The next day I am writing for a wedding planner, where the tone of voice is to appeal to brides and grooms.
Being able to swap between tones of voice is one key part of writing sales copy, and that is a kill that you have honed over various projects.
Like other forms of writing, there is no fixed rate for copywriting. I weigh up the project and what is involved, and work out how long I think it will take.
Sometimes, it is not clear how much work will be involved in a project. That is when I will use a day rate, say between £70-£150, depending on the nitty-gritty of the project.
As you can see, for freelance writers, working out your fees is never a simple job. Every writer will have their own methods for working out what to change for freelance writing.
I don’t use one flat rate for any project. It is more about how much there is to do, what skill level is needed, and how long I estimate it will take.
Writing is a Skilled Trade
Imagine if a plumber was to price up two jobs.
One is to fit a new tap to a bathroom sink.
The other is to reroute some pipework and fit a new bathroom suite.
The first job is quick, requires little in the way of the plumber’s skills. He or she might simply charge an hourly rate, plus payment for the tap.
The other job requires a lot more effort. The plumber has to work out where to put the new pipes, use more equipment, and use skills of the trade to produce a neat job. It makes sense that they charge a considerable amount more.
Being a freelance writer is not much different to being a skilled tradesperson.
No two clients or jobs are the same.
Some go smoothly, some have problems.
Different writers will provide quotes of different amounts.
You get more work through having a good reputation.
What freelance writers charge is a really interesting topic, and not one without controversy.
My advice to writers who are not sure what to charge is to think about how much you need to earn each month. If you rates are not covering it, or you are finding finances a struggle, adjust your rates accordingly.
Of course, this only works if you have handful or more regular clients. For new writers who are just starting out, cash flow can be pain in the arse.
When you are new to freelance writing, it can be tempting to accept low pay in order to secure your first few gigs. Some writers may even offer services for free!
DO NOT WORK FOR LESS THAN MINIMUM WAGE, OR FOR FREE, WRITERS!
When you accept low pay, it just adds to the problem of writers being underpaid throughout the industry. You will end up writing your butt off, with just a few quid to show for it.
But won’t I be rejected if my freelance rates are too high?
Sometimes, but that is a good thing. After all, do you really want to work for a client who doesn’t value your time?
Also, if you believe you are offering a fair rate for your time and expert knowledge, then your rate is not too high. Know it!
Thankfully, most clients are happy to pay fairly for quality work. Obviously no one will want to be overly high rates, but if you genuinely price a job fairly, then your rates will never be too high.
Writers, what are your thoughts on what to charge for freelance writing? Please add your tuppence worth in the comment below!