How much should you charge as a freelance writer?

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Today, freelance writers are in high demand. From content writers producing SEO-friendly articles to copywriters writing compelling sales copy that drives revenue, businesses are more comfortable outsourcing writing services than ever before.

While this is good news for freelance writers, it means writers should also be prepared to decide how to charge. There are many models, but three are the most popular because customers are familiar with them. Read on to learn more about each and how to decide if it’s right for you.

Related: The 9 Skills Needed to Succeed as a Freelance Writer

Recharge on time

Most new freelance writers are comfortable starting on an hourly rate if they come from other industries. Whether it was a clerical job or another position, you were probably paid by the hour or had a wage rate converted to an hourly rate.

Hourly rates work well for newbie freelance writers, because these writers don’t yet know how long it takes them to write a blog post, social media caption, or even a book. Setting a modest hourly rate can make it easier to start work, but it’s also difficult to charge by the hour because clients almost always have a fixed budget or rate in mind for writing.

A client having to choose between a writer who charges a flat rate of $100 for a blog and someone who charges $40/hour without specifying the number of hours they will need to complete the work is only confusing . If it takes the $40/hour writer six hours to complete the article, the client might feel like they’ve been taken advantage of. Writers should therefore always include a range or cap based on their best estimate of how long it would take, for example:

  • “I charge $40/hour and estimate it will take 3-4 hours.”
  • “I charge $40/hour and expect to spend several hours working on it.”

This makes hourly rates both easily accessible to freelancers and more difficult for clients, who don’t really have a sense of how long certain projects will take. So while this can be a good starting point, the goal for new freelance writers should be to track how long it took them to do something so they can turn it into a lump sum.

Related: Start a Side Business as a Freelance Writer Using These 12 Workshops

Billing by project

The easiest way to charge once you know what you’re doing is by project. This eliminates trading dollars for hours on the freelancer’s side. It also helps the customer to know the maximum they will pay upfront.

Flat-rate or per-project billing is the most difficult for beginners because it’s very easy to underbill, especially if you’re unfamiliar with writing the length in question. It takes a different level of work to write a 4,000 word white paper than it does to write a 1,000 word blog post.

For writing, consider all the work you do to come up with a finished piece, which can include things like:

  • Selection of topics or keywords
  • Research
  • Describing
  • interview people
  • Reading transcripts
  • Writing
  • Editing
  • Add bells and whistles as links, images or captions

In order to charge a fair project rate, a writer must know which of the above tasks will apply to the current project and be able to estimate them fairly quickly. For an experienced writer who has several projects to review in this regard, it’s a little easier. But it’s not that simple for a beginner. Beginners might be better off working on hourly projects with ranges of hours past or taking shorter/simpler pieces so they don’t lose as much if they get their prices wrong.

For example, you might quote $75 for your first blog post, but quickly realize that after one project you should have charged more based on the time it took you and the level of work involved. It’s so much better than taking on a $5,000 project only to find you’re significantly undervaluing because at this point you’re committed to a massive project and the pain of being cut runs much deeper. .

Charge by speech

In the world of journalism and even in some digital businesses, per-word billing is the most common. This method works well when the client has a variety of projects in play for you and they all have different durations. Maybe you’ll find that to cover a topic in depth, you need 3,000 words. You’ll get paid for every word you write, whereas if you pre-quote a 2,500-word article but hand in 3,000, the client won’t agree to raise your rate to reflect that in the most cases.

By the word keeps the math simple and is popular with agency models because it can pay many writers the same per-word rate, while still allowing some of that customization in length-based projects.

Related: 4 Mistakes to Avoid When Working as a Freelance Writer

Reasons to consider moving from an hourly rate to a per-project, per-word rate

The bottom line is that there’s no wrong way to charge for your work as a freelance writer. More experienced freelancers prefer not to charge by the hour because it’s a subtle but important shift in value: with project/word rates, your clients are paying for your expertise, not your time.

When I started freelancing, it took me longer. Over time, I’ve developed systems, invested in software, and generally been faster at what I’ve been doing. I didn’t want to be punished for being faster. Similarly, a “slower” freelance writer shouldn’t feel pressured to speed up because a client thinks four hours is too long to write an article.

Whether it takes you two or ten hours to complete the project is none of their business. Avoiding the hourly route also removes the possibility of a customer arguing with you about how long it “should” take to complete something. Their perceptions may be incorrect depending on your systems and processes and shifting the perspective from value to the finished product at a flat rate or by the word means you can focus on meeting deadlines instead of feeling pressured to justify how much. of time he did or did not do I do not take you.