Last updated: Tuesday 31st of May 2016
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How to Set Your Freelance Writing Rates

How to Set Your Freelance Writing Rates

by Brian Scott



As a freelance writer, you will compete against many writers who are just as talented as you are. You will also compete against writers who write poorly and who offer their writing services at ridiculously low fees. These writers can and do get jobs. Many times you will tempt yourself to lower your rates to match or beat the bids to snag the project. Don't do it! You are a professional. Professional writers don't lower their rates or work for next to nothing.

Many individuals who lack writing skills drive down rates, way below what professional writers can rightfully charge. If the true professionals do not keep up their prices, this will become an even bigger problem. Just because writers from other countries want to work for eight or nine American dollars per hour, this doesn't mean you should. As a writer, you can earn far more than many freelance writers—and certainly more than freelance writers who speak little English but still bid on the English-speaking jobs at much lower rates.

Visit any writer's marketplace and scan through the projects. You will discover all types of bid prices and proposals. What you won't see is how these writers came up with their bid prices or how they decided what and what not to include in their bid proposals. Often times these writers don't know how they came up with their fees for bidding either. It becomes obvious when you see the same project posting listed under different genres or price ranges. Some of the same writers will bid on the same projects with a large spread in proposed bids. It is quite comical.

If you want prospective clients to take you seriously, you need to do three things:

  1. You need a website that lists your rates;
  2. You need to be consistent with your rates;
  3. You need to collect a retainer up front before you start.
Freelance writers need to know what they can charge based on the job at hand. This can vary depending on the marketplace. When it comes down to freelance writing, here is the truth in a nutshell: You can charge whatever it is you want to charge. You can base your fees on whatever you want to base your fees. The trick is finding someone to pay it who believes it is a fair price.

Freelance writers are a rare breed. Many of them are quite difficult. There is no need to be one of them. Decide on your fees and stick to them. Keeping your fees consistent enables you to keep your bookkeeping simple. You are a writer, not an accountant. Simplicity in accounting should appeal to you. Regardless of how much work you find, keep yourself grounded. Make your job fun. Take things in stride. The money will come.

The following information will help you set your rates. These rates may vary according to your experience and specialization.

WHAT TO CHARGE

Many writers will charge way too much for their services while others will charge way too little. You can find current market rates in Writer's Market. You can also use the following as a guideline until you feel you have a good sense of what you want to charge. Remember, you can charge anything you want to charge. Always ask yourself what your time and skills are worth. More importantly, do clients feel you are worth what you are charging?

Take a look:

  • News Articles ( web related ): $15-50 per page
  • E-books: $15-25 per page
  • Novels and Books: $75 per page
  • Radio Commentary: $200 per hour
  • Magazine articles: Expect anywhere from $600-$2000 per article
  • Articles for web content, not related to news: $10-$50 per article based on word count and other aspects of the job (such as keywords, etc.)
Some writers prefer to charge by the word too. This is slightly different as it varies on several factors. If you are going to charge on a per word basis, decide how much that is and stick with it on all your projects of varying lengths. Often the rate per word charge fluctuates by writer depending on what the writer is writing (article, book, and web content).

Whatever you choose to charge, consider the time you spend creating the work. Remember, if you are an educated writer in your field, you should be able to realize anywhere from $30-$75 per hour.

SOMETHING TO CONSIDER ABOUT RATES

You cannot please everyone all of the time. You will find publishers, editors, and clients who hire you on a fast turn around. Even though they expect quality, they also expect you to write top-notch, award-winning material.

If a client tells you up front the deadline is important, be realistic in your talents and realize you are at a disadvantage before you start. If you have a demanding buyer with demanding deadlines, then realize you may feel you cannot craft the best copy you can. You should know your own pace and when you know you can't deliver your best manuscript. If this is the case, then ask the client for more time.

Also watch for up and coming savvy trade book publishers who hire writers to write an e-book and fully intend to market it as a trade paperback. Know this before you take the job. In fact, when you bid on e-books, expect it. If you want to charge more based on that possibility, then build it into your bid. Often, if you approach a potential client by e-mail, they will respond with a request for an author to pen an e-book for them. Many times this ghostwritten book will end up on the shelves. As long as you did your job and you got paid, what do you care? Sure, the client may have used a less than honest approach, but as a writer, you will see this every day on the freelance postings. These clients are trying to save money and this is why they do this. You can't really blame them. The client wants to turn a book over quickly too. If they were to present a ghostwriter with a writing opportunity to write a manuscript for publication, it would take much longer and cost a lot more for their manuscript.

Even though many people work with a rate sheet as their guide, others realize it is sometimes impossible to stick to their rates. You should establish some parameters when varying from your rates if you decide to offer a discount to a client. If you are working within a tight deadline, don't vary much because 18 hour days can be part of your reality when you're up against a tight web content deadline. By the end of those jobs, you want clients to pay you. Writers should stick to a rate sheet for their services. When pushed to turn out a job quickly, you should never discount a project, but instead raise your rates!

Another subject has come up in many incidences on the subject of whether the writer should charge for re-writes. Many writers do charge for re-writes, especially if the client is unreasonable. If you provide re-writes for a client, make sure the client has paid you in full for the project.

About the author:
Brian Scott uses his creative skills to freelance full-time as a copywriter, SEO marketing specialist, and graphic designer. Self-employed since 1996, he's had the opportunity to work in traditional media (pre-Internet Age) and now online media. Prior to freelancing, he worked in public relations, newspaper copy editing, and mail-order marketing. He founded FreelanceWriting.com in 1997 to share his knowledge with new and experienced freelance writers. Visit his personal blog, Creative Genius, to learn more about freelance writing.


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