No BS Road Map to Determine Your Freelance Writing Rates

make money freelance writing.jpg

How much should I charge for my freelance writing work? How can I determine my freelance writing rates?

I hear and read these questions all the time.

If you are a freelance writer or freelance writer wanna-be, chances are you want to you how much you should charge for your freelance writing services. You want a killer road map to help you determine your freelance writing rates.

I’ve been in your shoes. I was clueless about what to charge. But the truth is, it is not that difficult. Actually, it’s quite a simple process if you follow these steps that explain what to charge for your freelance writing work.

No BS Road Map to Determine Your Freelance Writing Rates

Start with Your ‘Why?’

Knowing your why is essential to make goals and to come up with a plan to achieve it.

What are your goals with writing?

How much do you want to make writing?

Why? What would you do with that money?

Do you have student loans, car loans, medical bills, or a mortgage to pay off?

Do you want to be able to stay home with your children while still making the income you did at your 9 to 5?

Do you want to travel or afford nice experiences?

Do you want to afford organic groceries?

Do you have children, aging parents, or anyone in your family you need to or want to support?

Knowing your needs and dreams can help you create a strong why to give you the motivation to work for your goals. It can also help you to set strong short-term and long-term financial goals that can help you determine your freelance writing rates to meet your financial goals.

Consider How Much You Want to Make a Year. Then Break It Down

To determine your freelance writing fees, you have to think backwards. Consider how much you want to make a year, then break it down to decide on your freelance writing rates.

You can make any goal, but for the sake of this example, let’s assume that your initial goal is to make 50K a year.

If you want to make 50K a year with freelance writing, you need to make roughly $960 a week.

50,000 / 52 = 961.53

Consider how many days a week you want to work. For this example, let’s assume that you will be working 5 days a week. Don’t worry, chances are, you won’t be working 8-hour days to meet your goal!

If you want to make $960 a week, you need to make $192 a day to meet your goal as long as you are working 5 days a week.

If you are writing blogs, you can meet your freelance writing goals in no time!

Why Blogs? And How to Charge for Blogs?

Writing blogs is awesome!

They are a great tool for your clients to engage with and educate their audience, to build trust among their readers, and boost their traffic AND sales. What’s even better is that most clients will need at least one blog post a week, which means recurring, reliable, and stable work for you!

Just think about it, if you are charging $200 for a 1000ish word blog post, you only have to write ONE BLOG per day to exceed your goal!

$200 x 5 = $1000 a week

$1000 X 52 = 52,000 a year

$200 for 1000 words is 20 cents a word, which is very reasonable for well-researched, quality content!

Forget about content mills and short viral bullshit! Accept only quality assignment, do quality work, and work with quality clients!

Even if you are a newbie, and hesitant to charge 20 cents a word yet, even at 10 cents per word, you only have to write two posts to exceed your goal!

2 x $100 = $200 a day

$200 x 5 = $1000 a week

$1000 X 52 = 52,000 a year

If you are charging 15 cents per word ($150 for a 1000 words), you have to write 6 articles a week to almost meet and 7 article to well exceed your goal. That’s 1 article 3 to 4 days a week, and 2 articles 1 or 2 days a week.

6 x $150 = 900 a week

$900 X 52 = $46,800 a year

7 x $150 = $1050 a week

$1050 x 52 = $54,600 a year

Again, forget about content mill that pay a few cents per word. Write quality posts and find clients that are willing to pay for it!

Most writers suggest that you should charge a minimum of 10 cents per word for your work, however, your goal should be to work up to 15 - 20 cents per word at least.

How Many Clients Do I Need?

You may wonder how many clients do you need to meet your financial goals with freelance writing.

It all depends on a variety of factors:

  • What are your financial goals?

  • How much are you charging?

  • What do your clients need?

If you want to earn 50K a year, work 5 days a week, and charging $200 for 1000 words, you need to write 5 blogs a week.

Most of your clients will probably want 1 blog per week. If this is the case, you need 5 clients to meet you goal. You may have clients who only want 1 blog every two weeks or 1 per month, but you may also find clients that need 2 or 3 posts a week. Depending on their exact needs, you may need anywhere between 4 and 7 clients to meet your financial goals.

Having several clients is actually a good thing! If one client wants to slow down production, take a break, or end the contract, you still have others to rely on. If you want to drop a client, you can confidently do so, since you have other sources of income to pay the bills.

Should I Charge Hourly, Per Word or Per Project?

Don’t Change Per Hour as a Freelance Writer

I strongly advise against charging an hourly rate as a freelance writer. Depending on the topic and your experience, different assignments take a different amount of time to write.

Some topics need a lot of research, others need less. If you are already familiar with a topic, and you’ve researched it for another client, things will go quicker. Once you are familiar with your client’s brand, you will be faster. As you gain more experience, you will work faster and more effectively. Still, you may run into topics that need a lot more research than others, or topics that inspire you less and drag on longer.

Let’s say it takes you about 2 hours to write a 1000-word post (including research). You may run into topics that you will spend 3 - 5 hours on, and other topics you can get done in an hour.

Your client pays you for quality content and results, NOT your time. You shouldn’t be paid less working faster and more effectively than other writers.

The point is: don’t charge hourly!

However, knowing an hourly rate in your mind may help you to come up with a project price.

If you are charging $200 for a 1000 word article and it takes you 2 hours to write, your hourly rate is $100. If it takes you 3 hours on average, your hourly is about $67. You may (or may not) want to take this into consideration when you are charging for a project.

Charge Per Word or Per Project!

You may prefer to charge per word and some clients may prefer that as well. This is totally okay and can work.

The main problem I see with charging per word that your clients may get confused. They may think that they are paying for you to type up words. But they are not paying for words only, and you are definitely doing way more than just typing. There is a lot of research time goes into each post. In some cases, you may even have to do interviews. You may have to help with SEO optimization or add images. Some writers provide a content strategy or pitch topics.

Most importantly, your clients are paying for quality work that brings them results. Not just words.

Still, charging per work can work, and I do that with some clients when they prefer that. However, in many cases, charging per project is the best way to go.

If you want the most steady pay possible, charging per post/project is the best idea!

Your clients may be looking for posts around 1000 words, however, some posts deserve somewhat more (1100-1200 words) and other topics only need a bit less (800-900 words).

If you are charging per post, you won’t feel the need to add extra filler words just to earn a few more bucks. You also won’t feel penalized if you get a topic that only deserves 800 words instead of 1000.

Retainers are also a great idea.

Many writers offer a retainer that includes X number of posts for a fixed time frame. For example, you may charge $2400 for one 1000ish-word blog per week for three months. Retainers are a great way to ensure steady work and prevent clients dropping out unexpectedly without pay.

Increase Your Prices

If you are a newbie and start at 10 cents a word, you may be worried that you will never reach your financial goals with freelance writing. You will. The secret is: increasing your prices.

You may take on your first one or two clients at 10 cents per word, but increase your fees to 12 or even 15 cents with the third and fourth one. Slowly increase your fees until you feel comfortable.

Once you are at your goal rate, you can start letting go of old clients, and higher new ones at higher fees. You can also increase your fees. Increasing your fees slightly every 6 months is a great idea, though some writers only do it once a year, while others increase theirs every 3 months.

You Don’t Have to Charge the Same for Everyone

You don’t have to charge the same for each client. You may be okay for getting paid a bit less for a long-term client that is providing steady work than from someone new or short-term.

Always consider your research time! If your client is giving you a topic that needs a lot more research and scientific evidence: charge more! If you need to interview people or visit places for a piece: charge more!

Consider your industry! Some industries may have higher fees. Ask around for industry rates. I’m a health writer, so I am very familiar with standard rates in health, wellness, nutrition, and fitness.

Consider the type of writing you do! In this post, I am discussing how to charge for blog content as a freelance writer. However, for different types of writing assignments, you may charge a different fee. For ebooks and books, definitely charge more than for blog posts, for example. You can make a lot more per word for magazine articles than for blog articles, however, the pitching process is more tedious and it is more difficult to get steady work.

No matter what kind of writing you do, you can still use the same strategy I explain to determine your freelance writing rates. Always consider your financial and personal goals first to determine your freelance writing rates.

Don’t Undercharge!

Some clients and even some writers feel shocked when they hear that someone is charging 20 cents a word, $200 for 1000 words, or $70-100 per hour.

But remember, you are not an employee! You are a business owner.

Working for someone, you get paid to answer emails, take coffee breaks, and sit around at meetings. As a writer, you simply do NOT have this luxury anymore! Yet, you will have to spend time cold emailing potential clients, answering emails, sending out invoices, and so on. You have to cover your own health insurance, take care of your own office space, computer, and office supplies. Yeap, you have to cover your own coffee as well! Not to mention that as a freelancer you will be paying higher taxes as an employee.

Your clients save money by hiring you - not having to pay for your office space, insurance, liability, and so on! -, and even at higher rates, it worth it for them.

What If I Want to Earn More?

You can totally earn more than 50K. Just use the same strategy as I outlined above.

To earn 100K a year, working 5 days a week, and charging $200 per blog, you need to write two 1000-word blog posts a day on average. You can also focus on longer-form blog posts, and write one 2000-word post a day! That should probably take you anywhere between 4 to 6 hours of work a day. It’s not that much if you think about it.

Of course, a better way to make more money is by increasing your prices! As you gain more experience and more clients, you can start increasing your prices.

Another way, many writers increase their prices and end up earning a 6-figure income, is by outsourcing their work. If you are good at cold emailing and making business connections, you may end up having more work than you can handle. Hiring other writers, they can grow their business and make a solid profit. Hiring and managing a team may not be for everyone, however, keep it in mind in case this is your jam.

Get Writing!

Following these no BS tips can help you set your freelance writing rates and make a comfortable income freelancing. Now all you have to do is get after those clients and get writing! It really is as simple as it sounds.