Have you wondered how much you should charge for your freelance writing rates?
If so, I get it 100%.
When I first started as a freelance writer in 2017, I had no clue what to charge. Like most freelance writers, I drastically undercharged in the beginning becuase I was so worried about setting my rates too high and scaring away potential clients.
But this is a losing strategy. If you keep your rates low forever, you’ll work way too many hours like most freelance writers.
Luckily, you found this post and I’ll help you learn the art of pricing your writing services. Keep reading to learn everything you need to konw about freelance writer rates.
Freelance Writing Rates: How to Calculate
When I first started writing, I took whatever I could get. I didn’t have the luxury of deciding what my rate would be.
To this day I still remember my first paid gig, it was the coolest $30 I had ever made. Someone had paid me to write about golf (which I’m super passionate about) and have since become a successful golf writer.
I couldn’t believe someone paid me to write about golf. While I drastically undercharged, it gave me a much needed boost of confidence. As your freelance career progresses, though, you learn to value yourself a little more as your experience and skills grow.
But first, you need to establish a freelance writing rate. If you work at a 9 to 5, you have an hourly rate, don’t you?
Whether it’s per hour or salary, you have some way to value your work and your time. You need that same kind of stability as a freelancer. This is one of the biggest mistakes as a freelance writer that I made in the beginning.
When you’re just starting out, you might have to work for less to get started. That’s part of the process if you don’t have any experience as a freelance writer. But don’t accept that rate forever.
How to Establish Your Writing Rate
How much do you usually get paid for your work, on average?
Take your past five or ten posts and literally average out your pay for each. From there, I usually err on the side of earning more, depending on my workload.
For example, let’s say my average freelance writing rates per word rate is .20 cents each and I’m so booked that I have to turn down clients. I might decide my freelance writing rate is .30 cents per word, closer to my regular, higher-paying client.
If work isn’t as good, I’ll usually maintain the average.
If you’re just getting started here are some very broad rates per word to charge:
If you want to become an expert freelance writer, you have to work your way and learn your way to the top!
Establish a Minimum Viable Amount
Wouldn’t it be cool to get paid .50 cents or even $1 per word? Some experienced writers can demand those type of rates but it’s few and far between. But if the posts are 300 words it’s not going to be quite as exciting.
You should have a minimum in mind for your clients. Maybe you don’t work for less than $200 a post or $500 per project. Whatever it is, keep it in mind when you’re hashing out a number.
This amount, like your freelance writing rates, will change as well.
Questions to Ask Yourself Before Accepting a Lower Rate
This is bound to happen as it’s happened to me and I’m sure it will continue to happen at some level. Whatever rates you establish, there will probably come a time where you ask yourself if you should take on a client who pays below your minimum.
Maybe you really want the backlink or byline. Maybe you just need the extra cash and your other work is drying up. Or maybe you’re just getting started and want to build some momentum.
Flexibility and resourcefulness are crucial if you want to earn a high income as a writer. Sometimes that means bending your own rules to get what you want.
At the end of the day, you have to do what works best for you. For me, sometimes that means taking on clients that pay less than I would like because I see a benefit to my own bottom line. Here are some questions I ask myself when thinking about picking a lower paying client:
Will it look good on my byline?
The bigger and more platforms you’ve been published on, the more clout you have as a writer. The more clout means more money you can charge by future clients.
Bylines give you credibility and help establish your authority as a writer. Don’t get me wrong, with both this question and the one above, there are limits.
And a lot of big publications don’t even pay you! While the sites and models are always changing, don’t be shocked if you get an offer in the future with little or no pay at all. But even one article on Forbes, Fortune or Business Insider can make a huge difference in your writing career.
How low is the rate, exactly?
I remember Lifehack inquired about me writing for them. At the time I knew absolutely nothing about the site or how this entire freelance writing process worked. So I said yes…even when they said it was an “unpaid” gig.
It took forever. It was a 3,000-word post with a ton of requirements. In fact, looking back I’ve never had more requirements in my entire writing career. And I did all this for free!
One article wasn’t awful (as I had little to do at the time), they wanted me to keep writing on a regular basis. If you’re a striving writer, this isn’t the way to go!
What do they pay other writers?
Negotiating is a must if you want to increase your earning potential in the long run. Luckily you can use, WhoPaysWriters.com to help you research how much the client is willing to pay writers. This research can help you negotiate a rate that’s at least closer to your standard even if it is a slight pay cut.
Will you learn something new or work with someone you admire?
Finally, what other skills or benefits will you get from this? I’ve taken on lower-paying gigs just because the topic was interesting and I wanted to learn more about it. I’ve taken on several golf writing gigs because I love golf and it doesn’t feel like work.
Granted, I wouldn’t do this work for free, and these clients still paid good, but what pushed me to give in was knowing I’d have fun writing the topic! And you never know, you can always ask for a raise in the future.
Again, there is not really an established set of rules for being successful in the freelance writing business. You learn to be flexible, resourceful, and then do what works best for you.
Freelance Writing Rates: 7 Pricing Models
I’m sure you’re still thinking…how much should you charge for freelance writing as a beginner?
There’s no one clear-cut method when it comes to creating your freelance writing rates. There are several ways to get started.
Here are the seven most popular ways to price your writing services, regardless of if you’re a beginner or advanced writer:
1. Establishing an Hourly Rate
The first way to establish your freelance writing rates is charging by the hour. Personally, I hate this method and don’t recommend many freelance writers to ever use it.
Hourly rates remind me of the corporate world and that’s why I got out of a 9-5… to never think about my time as hourly again.
When I worked in the corporate world I never understood why I got paid the same amount as someone who took more time to do the same work I did. The same goes for my writing, I’ve had clients try to have me write blogs at an hourly rate and I hated it.
Cons of Hourly Rates
The main problem with hourly rates is that you make less and less money as you grow more efficient and start writing assignments faster. And trust me, you will get 100x better and faster over time as a freelance blogger.
What used to take me hours now takes a fraction of the time. I can crank out four 1,000 word posts in less than three hours sometimes. That makes my per hour rate $150 or more!
Plus, with hourly writing rates, you get penalized for being more skilled and completing jobs twice as fast as inexperienced writers.
Doesn’t seem right, does it?
Another big (and fair) argument against hourly rates is that they limit your income potential by tying your income to your time. This makes it hard to step away from your computer but also a hard way to stay sane!
Lastly, time spent on a project is a poor measure of the value of your output.
For example, imagine you charge $100/hour and it takes you three hours to write a sales piece, for a total of $300. That sales piece goes on to generate $30,000 in sales for your client. The $300 price tag, in that case, is far too low and not reflective of the value your work delivered.
Pros of Hourly Rates
On the flipside, hourly rates are an okay option if the project isn’t clear from the start. And trust me, clients aren’t always sure what they want from the start. Your client will normally want some sort of figure so they can make sure they aren’t writing a blank check.
From a project planning and execution perspective, whatever rate model you adopt is still going to involve time spent on a project, so it’s wise to have a minimum hourly rate in mind that’s acceptable to you, even if you never advertise it.
Freelance Writer Tip: Don’t make the mistake of basing your hourly rate on your past salary as an in-house employee in the 9-5 world. In my case, I was making over six figures in my career but had zero formal writing experience so that just wouldn’t work as a beginner.
On the other hand, you’ll become a starving freelance writer if you’re not careful with pricing yourself too low. Remember, as a freelancer you are responsible for your own insurance (if full-time) and taxes, therefore, you’ll need to charge more as well.
2. Charge Per Word
Charing per word is also a very popular business model for content writing. A per word rate is easy for you to charge and easy for the client to understand so it’s kind of a win-win. These aren’t common on bid sites like Upwork and instead, more common with job boards or cold pitching.
Here’s how it works…
For example, if you’re a content writer who will produce a blog post each week or each month this is very common. You tell the client, “Hey my rate for this project is .15 cents per word.” Then, you write the content (let’s say its 1,000 words) and your invoice will be $150.
I prefer this method over per hour as I don’t have to document my time and can write blog posts fast.
Here’s the thing, most writers don’t raise their rates ever (or soon enough). But unlike a day job, you don’t have to wait for a raise, you get to choose your per word or per hour rate.
Sometimes you need a mindset shift to make it happen…
Getting Over the Fear of Charing More
If you’re like most freelance writers, raising rates and talking about money to clients is terrifying. Luckily, you can get over this fear by adoping a growth mindset and focusing on abundance.
I had a scarcity mentality that I wasn’t good enough to warrant a higher per word rate.
Remember, the better and more in demand you become as a writer, the more you can raise your rates.
If you’re a hard-working, talented writer who works well with editors you can make great money. I finally learned this from my mentor (and #1 writer on Medium), Benjamin Hardy.
He recommended me to pitch new clients and asking for double my normal rate. He told me to go from 10 cents per word to 20 cents per word and see what happens.
While it made me uncomfortable (that’s being kind, I was terrified), I got past limiting beliefs and did it. And guess what? I landed my biggest client at the time.
As he said, there is no downside, only three things can happen:
- Client says yes and you just raised your per word rate drastically (which in turn, raises your per hour rate… more on that coming up).
- Client says no, but you use your negotiating skills to meet somewhere in the middle. Thus, still getting a raise.
- Client says no and decide it’s not a good fit. In that case, you move on and find more cleints on job boards, cold pitching, and the countless other methods to land new clients.
Once I got the new, high-paying job I started to level up my writing too. I was able to believe I was a better writer, and attract higher end clients as well.
The sooner you can raise your rate (yes, even you less experienced writers), the sooner you’ll earn more and build your confidence.
3. Fixed or Flat Fee Rates
With a flat or fixed fee approach, clients pay for the work you deliver, not how long it takes you to complete it. I’m also a big fan of this type of freelance writing rate as you’re not paid on time but instead performance and meeting deadlines. Whether you get it done in 1 or 10 hours, the project price (and its value to the client) remain the same.
Fixed project rates are common for test pieces, when you’re negotiating with clients who want to see if you’ll be a good fit. It’s more common than per word for test pieces and a great way to win the client over with a blog post or other epic piece of content.
This model also enables you to charge premium pricing because it changes the conversation from hours to value.
4. Charge a Monthly Retainer
Another great option is a monthly retainer.
It’s one of my favorite models as you are able to predict income and plan your schedule in advance. Retainer agreements commit you and a client to recurring work, typically at X dollars for X deliverables or specific number of hours per month.
Plus, it’s a win-win relationship between you and the client. It’s a win for clients because they have a trusted writer who knows their business, messaging and audience well.
Like hiring new employees in the corporate world, hiring new freelancers is a pain for most companies. They have to train, learn communication styles, editing, etc.
Therefore, they want to retain writers who are able to create great article after great article. Not to mention, that relationship and familiarity enable faster project turnaround and higher-quality writing, for less than they’d spend hiring out individual projects.
It’s a win for you because you have a guaranteed income and steady workload for several months, or at least for the foreseeable future.
I’d recommend suggesting a retainer agreement as a savings opportunity for the client when you sense they need recurring blog post content. Repeat customers are great candidates for this model.
5. Create a Consulting Package
Got more to offer than just writing skills? Maybe you know Pinterest, SEO or Facebook ads.
You decide up front what the gig will entail — its scope, processes, and output. You then package those elements into a product, give it a name, a price, and you’ve got a productized service.
This is a great way to scale your income and make way more money than just writing a ton!
6. Tiered Pricing Model
Another model I haven’t tried yet is a tiered pricing model. The reason I haven’t tried it is because I’m working on scaling my blog and podcast so I only have so much time for freelance writing. But tiered rates are a simple but powerful way to boost your income and sales conversions without much effort on your part.
I recommend naming them Basic, Standard, and Premium on your freelance writing website. Each relates to a different service level and deliverables.
The Tiered Pricing Model
When prospects ask you for a quote, give them three options to choose from:
- Basic package: This is a minimum (low-end) rate (i.e. doesn’t include keyword research, images or internal and external linking)
- Standard package: This is a middle tier writing package that is where you’ll primarily operate from in the future. (i.e. does images and linking but not keyword research)
- Premium: This is a high-end rate that usually includes everything from the bottom two and additional revisions.
The basic option might require the client to do some of the work up front. You can limit research and number of revisions.
The premium option might include moderate to deep keyword research, in person or phone interviews and extras.
The Mindset Shift
The coolest part about this pricing model is the shift that happens when prospects are staring at three rate options: The conversation in their minds moves from “Should I hire this person?” to “Which service level will I buy?”
Human nature for most people is to avoid the super cheap one and most expensive one. Sometimes you’ll meet a prospect who wants everything and won’t worry about money as much as other.
Give tiered rates a try next time someone asks what are your freelance writing rates. You’ll be shocked by how many prospects choose a more expensive option when you make it available.
7. Creating a Daily Rate
The final method is known as a daily rate and isn’t as common as per word or the others on this list. Similar to hourly pricing, day rates cover all work completed within a day and great for experienced writers who know whaty they can accomplish in a day. I’ve found this is more often found in consulting than it is with freelance writers.
One plus to this style is that daily rates do offer more flexibility than the hourly model since you don’t have to track every hour. Beyond that, the same rationale discussed above for hourly rates apply here as well.
FAQs About Your Freelance Rates
Do you have more questions about how much freelance writers charge for blog posts and other projects like white papers, ebooks, and more? If so, let’s dive in and help you better understand the process to making money as a writer.
1. Do freelance writers get paid?
But for some reason, people still don’t believe that people get paid to write words online. Even though I’ve been doing this since 2017, people act surprised when I tell them freelance writing is one of my main streams of income.
At the end of the day, yes, freelance writers get paid! In the beginning, you might have to take a lower rate while you’re building yourself up but it won’t last forever. The good news is that you can scale your business quickly (you got this newbie writers).
For example, in my first 12 months of freelancing, I was able to 10X my monthly income from $650 a month to $6,500 per month. In other words, yes, you can get paid well, earn a living wage (and then some) and make this a full-time career or very lucrative side hustle.
2. How much to charge for a 500 word article?
I get it, you still need a ballpark idea of how much you share for freelance writing rates.
With so many variables at play — your niche, skill level, experience, market, types of clients, types of projects, and so on — it isn’t feasible for me or any fancy calculator to give you rates that would apply to everyone or every scenario.
The lower your rates, the more you’ll deal with prospects trying to haggle. They’ll likely be high-maintenance too because low rates attract cheap buyers who don’t value your time or services.
How much should you charge for a 1,000 word article?
You can opt to double it or charge more for the 500 and make it a slight discount for 1,000 words.
Freelance Writing Rates Best Practices
It’s helpful to network and research the websites of writers who are doing what you want to do in terms of niches, specialties, and markets.
Many writers post their rates online or share their rates when asked, but not all of them. You’ll find a ton of inconsistencies overall so it comes down to a lot of trial and error. I’ve always found that if you charge more and they bite, you’ll perform more as it’s a huge mindset shift to keep charging more.
Also, here’s a freelance writing rates calculator as well.
3. Should I really do custom packages?
Custom packages is something that most writers don’t do and are missing out big time.
While it’s more work upfront to create the packages, it’s so worth it.
Because you’re going to get frustrated if you’re doing two projects in the same niche for the same rate and one requires way more work. If you have to do images, SEO research, linking, and social media promotion that’s a ton of additional work on your end.
But it can help you make a lot more per hour and not have to juggle as many clients online.
Should I post my rates online?
This is a great question and one I struggled with at the beginning. In short, no, I would not post your rates online.
Here’s what I would do, instead of posting your exact rate, give price ranges for your custom packages.
Because no two freelance writing jobs are going to be the same. Some are going to take a lot of work, while others are going to be easy. Some clients are going to approve everything and some are going to have a lot of requests.
A benefit of doing so is that a price range doesn’t lock you into a single number, and it automatically disqualifies prospects who want something cheap and can’t afford you. You want to have enough information on your freelance writing portfolio to educate your client, but not too much to where they don’t need to contact you as well.
At the end of the day do not list your word count like many writers do. Instead, have packages listed and make it easy to contact you so that you can start negotiating.
Is 10 cents per word good as a freelance writer?
First off, what’s good?
All freelance writers will have their own definition of what “good” entails. What I tell all my students is to quit looking at your per word rate and instead, focus on your per hour rate (without charging per hour).
For example, I have a client that I charge .20 cents per word for each blog post. I write three blog posts for them at a time and each one is around 1,5000 words.
So my total is $900 for three blog posts – .20 cents per word. But the real thing I’m looking at is my hourly rate… these blogs take me roughly four hours to write and one hour to edit. So five hours total to write 4,500 words.
$900 divided by five hours total = $180 per hour (despite charging per word). Since there isn’t much research involved and I know the topics well, I can crank out content fast.
The client is happy and thinks they are reasonable rates while I’m more than happy with my hourly rate. So instead of thinking per wrod rates, start thinking about total time to complete each project for most clients.
Which rate model do you, personally, use?
As a freelance writer since 2017, I use a mix of a retainer, per word, tiered and flat rates. As I mentioned before, never per hour though.
Today, most of my income comes from recurring retainer & per word clients. Again, these are my preferences but make sure you find what works best for you.
Lastly, don’t be afraid to experiment, and don’t wait to have it all figured out before you move forward.
Next Steps For Freelance Writers
Want to learn even more about becoming a freelance writer?
Check out my ultimate guide to freelance writing here.
In this excellent article I cover a broad range of topics including:
- Why you shouldn’t start your own blog.
- Why it’s a writer’s market and how to pick your niche.
- The mindset of a wealthy writer (so you can increase your per word rates much sooner).
And so much more. Click the image below to read the epic guide to become a freelance writer.
Start Freelance Writing Today
So, how much should you charge for freelance writing?
For beginner writers, start in the .10 to .15 cents per word range as a starting rate. Then, when you don’t think you’re a new writer anymore and start to find clients, it’s time to charge higher rates. Plus, you can upgrade exsisting clients as well.
But remember, it’s not just about how much you charge per word or per project. Instead, always think about yoru average hourly rate (even though you don’t charge by the hour). Whether you’re pitching clients on job boards, content mills, or anything else, this will help you earn what you’re worth.
And you never know, if things go well it could write full time.