This post, How to Set Freelance Writing Rates, is from Nick Mann. Nick is a writer, entrepreneur, and member of the nDash Content Community.
As a freelance writer, one of your most important responsibilities is to set your rates. This directly dictates how much you will earn and is a major factor as to whether or not you can do business with a particular client.
But setting your rates can be tricky. You want to make sure that you get paid fairly and aren’t getting lowballed, but you don’t want to turn off potential clients with excessively high rates.
Here is a formula for setting a price that works for you.
What’s Considered Average Pay?
First things first – what’s the going rate for freelance writers these days?
There is a myriad of factors that contribute to how much each freelancer earns. Experience, niche expertise, and overall quality level are some of the first things that come to mind.
But according to PayScale, “the average pay for a freelance writer is $28.50 per hour.”
This in no way means that this is a number you have to target; it’s just meant to serve as a reference point.
Assessing Your Talent Level
I’m a firm believer that you should be paid according to what you’re worth. Whether you’ve got 10-plus years of experience or have only been at it for six months, it’s all about the end results.
The bottom line is can you complete the job or not?
But to be honest, how much a client is willing to pay is largely based on your perceived value.
For example, if you’ve been published in major publications like Forbes and Bloomberg, you’re going to have more perceived value than if you’ve only written for content mills. You should take this into consideration because it probably isn’t realistic to expect to earn $300 for a 500-word blog post if you’re just starting out.
Another huge factor is your knowledge of a particular industry. For instance, if you have a prospective client who needs IT-related content, you could probably charge more if you’re a specialist in this field than if you had hardly any experience.
Just keep this in mind.
There are four basic payment formats for freelance writers.
- Per word
- Per piece (e.g. a blog post, article, or whitepaper)
- Per hour
- Per project (e.g. content for an entire website)
I’ve found that it’s usually easiest to work on a per word, per piece, or per hour basis because it’s more simplistic than operating on a per-project basis.
If you go with the per project, you can potentially find yourself in over your head if the workload is more than you anticipated, and it can cut into your profitability.
On the other hand, working on a per word, per piece, or per hour basis tends to make things more transparent, and you should have a better idea of how much you’ll actually earn.
Working Backward to Choose the Right Rate
Regardless of the payment format, you’ll need to answer one important question – how much do you want to earn per hour?
Answering this question is vital because you’re more likely to hit your earnings goals, which is pretty important if you want to pay the bills and actually make a living.
Let’s say you want to earn $50 an hour.
If you’re working on a per-hour basis, your work is complete, and this is your rate.
Per Word Basis
But if you’re working on a per-word basis, you’ll want to choose an amount that will ultimately result in you earning $50 an hour.
Let’s say you can comfortably write 750 words in an hour. In this case, you would want to make your rate $0.07 per word because you would earn just over $50 ($52.50, to be exact) for writing 750 words in an hour.
The formula is as follows:
The amount you want to earn per hour/The number of words you can write in an hour = Price per word
Per Piece Basis
If you’re working on a per-piece basis, it’s a little more straightforward.
Once again, let’s use $50 an hour as an example goal.
Let’s say that a client is requesting an article that’s going to take you an hour and a half to complete.
In this case, you would need to charge $75 per piece to hit your goal.
The bottom line is to set a flat fee for each piece that will ensure you achieve the hourly rate you want.
By properly setting your freelance writing rates, you’ll know which clients you want to work with. You’ll also be in a better position to hit your long-term earnings goals and establish a thriving freelance writing business.