Whether you dream of editing the next bestseller or just want to be a contributor to your favorite online publication, if you’re gifted with words, you may be considering a career as a freelance writer.
Let’s say you’ve taken a pass through a few job boards and found an assignment that looks interesting. Before you craft your first sentence, you have an important decision to make – your freelance writing rate!
Even if you feel confident about your writing abilities, you may still be clueless about how to price your work, and you’re not alone. Lots of new freelancers get stuck when it’s time to provide a quote.
Read on to learn more about different types of writing services, how much freelance writers make in today’s market, and how to calculate your own personal rate.
What kind of freelance writing services do you provide?
Before you can name your price, know what services you’re offering your clients.
Freelance writing is a broad term encompassing a spectrum of creative and technical services. Similarly, rates for freelance writing tend to be all over the map.
To better understand where you fit in your market, it’s helpful to narrow your focus to the types of writing work you envision yourself performing.
Ask yourself: where do you want to specialize? Here’s an overview of some of this year’s most in-demand freelance writing services to help you make your own list.
If you see this term in the marketplace, know that it’s a catchall for any kind of writing that will be attributed to your client’s name, not your own. Most freelance writing services fall under ghostwriting services.
Blog posts are generally less than 1500 words, informal in tone, and rich with keywords to help your clients gain traffic to their website. Having new and informative blog posts is crucial for content marketing, so clients who need blog posts often send freelance writing assignments on a recurring basis.
Copywriting is a general category for writing services with a marketing or advertising purpose. There are dozens of avenues to pursue as a copywriter, here are some population options for copywriting services.
- Advertising — If you have experience writing for marketing campaigns, brands will pay top dollar for advertising copy to be used in ads, print materials, and promotions.
- Website or UI copywriting — Creating powerful, concise copy for a brand’s website is a highly sought-after skill because it yields an immediate return on investment for your client.
- Social media marketing — Freelance social media marketers and writers provide on-brand copy to companies in need of regular social media posts and campaigns.
- Email newsletters — Strategies for email marketing tend to differ brand-to-brand, but freelance email copywriters are skilled in writing content for all elements of a campaign.
4. Journalism or feature writing
If longform, heavily-researched writing is your forté, you’re probably a journalist at heart. Feature writing differs from blogging in many ways: article length, level of research, and the level of credit you get for your work.
Journalistic writing also relies heavily on pitches – you might approach a publication with an idea that appeals to their readers, pitch your idea to their editorial team, and then produce the piece at your stated rate.
Feature writing or journalism assignments tend to be much more competitive than other types of freelance writing.
5. Resume or cover letters
A well-written resume and cover letter can be a golden ticket to a job-seeker. Writing and editing job application materials can be a lucrative service if you’re confident in your ability to organize information and provide concise descriptions.
6. Grant writing
For freelancers with a love of the humanities or the arts, grant writing is often a natural fit. As a freelance grant writer, you’ll craft proposal materials for organizations and nonprofits to apply for financial grants.
7. Technical writing
If you have an eye for detail and can parse out complicated topics, technical writing may be your niche. As a freelance technical writer, you’ll demystify complex systems in clear, cogent manuals, instructional writing, and white papers.
How much do other writers charge for these services?
Here’s a glimpse into what freelance writers typically make in the market for different skills.
Once you’ve narrowed down your freelance writing services, it’s hard to know what to charge your clients. Should you charge by the hour, by the assignment, by the word?
Here’s a quick overview of some pricing options as a freelance writer.
1. Charging by the hour
It’s common for freelancers to charge by the hour, but many seasoned writers find this to be a flawed model because they’re penalized for efficient work.
According to a recent ClearVoice study, freelancer writers with less than 3 years of experience usually charge between $21-40/hour. With moderate experience (3-7 years), freelance writers raise their rates to $41-60/hour.
2. Charging by the word
Charging by the word is very popular among freelance writers, as it accommodates all types of assignments and is straightforward enough for clients to scope contracts.
Rates vary based on experience level and type of work, but generally range from $0.10 to $1.00 per word.
3. Charging by the piece
Some writers approach pricing as a flat fee generated from a combination of two types of work: research and writing. They may charge an hourly fee for planning an article and gathering information, and then by the word for the remainder of the assignment.
Charging by a flat rate for a writing assignment can often be an easy and straightforward approach for many freelance writers that can properly scope their time and effort.
Here’s an example for a 1500 word article where the writer charges $0.30/word and $75 per hour for planning and research: (1500 words x $0.30) + (0.5 hour/research x $75) = $487.50 total fee for the piece.
How to price yourself as a freelance writer
So, where do you fit in? Spoiler alert: there’s no formula when it comes to setting your writing rates!
Determine your desired income
You may have a magic number that you’re trying to hit with your freelance writing salary, or maybe not; some people just write for fun or industry clout, so their rates are less top-of-mind. I
If you’re the former, work backwards from your desired income as a freelance writer, and divide that salary by the number of hours you envision working in a given year. What you have left is a rough hourly rate to ground your estimates.
Or you can use our handy freelance rate calculator that will deduct common expenses and taxes to determine your goal hourly rate!
Remember – writing isn’t just writing
There’s also research, planning, drafting, and editing – all of which take time, and lots of it. You don’t want to underestimate your writing assignments by forgetting these crucial steps in the process.
Ensure that when you’re scoping your work, you’re budgeting time for these activities. It’s easy for a $75/hour writing project to slim down to $25/hour if you spend unaccounted extra time in the research phase.
Take note of market trends, value, and experience
The demand for skills will ebb and flow in the market, just as your own personal expertise will grow. Account for both when setting your freelance writing rates!
If demand is high for a service in which you’re especially gifted, it might be time to raise your rates – you’re a commodity and your clients are essentially bidding for your time.
Similarly, keep an ear to the ground for what other freelancers are charging for similar services. Just because one client paid a high price doesn’t mean that’s typical; be flexible, and know that pricing is always going to be a dynamic part of your life as a freelance writer.
Don’t be afraid to ask for what you’re worth
This last point is perhaps one of the most important! It’s hard to feel confident about your rates when one pass around a job board shows fellow writers online pricing themselves for much, much less.
When you see someone doing a 3-hour job for $10 or $20, you may wonder how you’ll be able to compete. Keep this in mind: just because those prices exist out there, it doesn’t mean that clients aren’t willing to pay more for quality.
Jobs will come and go for $10 or $1,000 – you have to find the price that works best for you and commit to it. Many clients are looking for quality writing services and charging for your worth will differentiate your services if you’re an experienced writer.