Last Updated on January 25, 2023 by Katie
If you’re new to the writing business, you may be wondering how much should a freelance writer charge?
Setting your freelance writing rates is tough, especially when you’re starting out. It’s difficult because the answer is not straightforward.
You may talk to one writer new to the industry who is earning one amount. And then talk to another, the next day, who is earning a vastly different sum.
Doing a quick search on the big freelance writing websites usually doesn’t help either.
You’ll see a big gap in pay rates for freelance writing jobs from $5 for 500 words up to $50 for 500 words and more.
So, how do you set your own rates as a beginner freelance writer? Let’s take a look.
How Much Should a Freelance Writer Charge – Different Ways to Set Your Rates
When asking how much should a freelance writer charge, first decide how you will set you rates.
Here are five ways to consider:
- Hourly fee eg; $30 an hour
- By word eg; 500 words for $50 or $0.10 per word
- A per-project rate eg; $2,000 for a 5-page website
- Retainer fee for ongoing work eg; $500 a month to manage a blog
- Payment per page eg; typically used for book or manual writing
It’s typical to charge by the hour if you work for one company or specialise in a high paying writing niche such as business or marketing.
Freelance writers producing blog, SEO and magazine content, typically charge by the word.
A copywriter or website designer would charge a per-project rate.
Retainer fees are used by blog managers or SEO specialists for example.
Types of Freelance Writing and How That Affects Pay
There are multiple types of writing that have varying earning potentials.
The main ones include:
- Web content, blogging, SEO writing. This type of writing generally pays the least.
- Magazine and newspaper writing. Pay is little more than general content writing but varies depending on who you write for.
- Social media writing. Varies depending on your experience and your employer.
- Copywriting, sales pages, press releases. Marketing-related writing generally pays well.
- Email writing, white papers and business brochures. Pays better than blog or content writing, but can vary by client.
- Ghostwriting books, speeches and song lyrics. Pay is high making these lucrative writing niches.
- Technical, medical, scientific and financial writing. Niche content writing requires specific knowledge so pays well.
How Much Should a Freelance Writer Charge?
How much a freelance writer charges depends on their experience and writing niche.
A simple guide to keep in mind is:
- Charging by the word: $10 per 500 words for beginners and $50-$100 per 500 words or more for experienced writers
- Charging by the hour: $15 an hour for beginners up to $100 an hour for niche writers with experience
Why is There Such a Gap?
As a new freelance writer, it can be disheartening to be offered incredibly low-paying writing work, when others are earning five or ten times as much for the same thing.
I’ve been there! And it feels like you’re being taken advantage of.
But, a price is put on experience and knowledge.
A writer who has been in the game for five years should get paid more than an entry-level writer.
Here are the main reasons for the disparity in freelance writing pay rates:
Like every industry, the more experience you have, the higher rates you can charge.
As a beginner, you may not have published work to show potential clients.
Experienced writers can show off past work and detail how they got that client results eg; more leads and sales, blog traffic or readers.
When starting out, don’t be afraid to take on lower-paying work.
After doing a good job, you can ask for testimonials, which help in getting higher-paid jobs.
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When a writer has expertise in a certain industry, especially a complicated one such as medical or tech, they become more valuable and able to charge a higher rate.
If you have niche knowledge from a previous job such as marketing or SEO, this can be used to your advantage when setting your rates.
Proven Results and Testimonials
Experienced writers can show new clients what they achieved for a previous client.
Examples might be that they got an article to the first page of Google or boosted a client’s email sign-ups by 200% in 2 months.
This is valuable information and a client will pay you well to achieve the same for them.
As a new writer, work on getting testimonials and results, even if it’s just for yourself that can be shown as proof.
There’s no way around it – your writing improves with experience.
A client pays a writer according to the value they can bring.
To make more money writing, write frequently. Start your own blog or guest post on different blogs.
As time goes on, your writing ability will develop along with your monthly income.
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Type of Writing
Like previously discussed, the type of writing you perform affects how much you earn.
Writing books and speeches take time and a lot of research. This is why they pay a lot more than email or blog writing, which can be finished in minimal time.
Another thing to remember is that who you write for matters.
Writing blog content for a large brand with a huge budget pays way more than writing content for a small business website.
The complexity of the Topic
While any topic can be researched on the internet, writing convincingly in the medical, tech, scientific or financial niches is tough.
This is why complex topic writers, often have a background in these subjects and get paid well for this experience.
Who You Write For
A solo blogger generally has a smaller budget than Nike or any other massive brand.
So you can see, who you write for, has a huge effect on how much you earn.
As a new writer, you also may find yourself working for content mills that have a bad rep in regard to pay.
There is nothing wrong with working for lower pay to get experience. Just don’t get stuck there. Get experience and increase your rates as you go.
Determine the Right Freelance Writing Rate for You
Now you have a good idea of how much should a freelance writer charge.
The next step is to determine the right rate for you, according to your skills, goals and experience.
Here’s what you should consider:
1. How Much Do You Want to Make Each Month?
Are you planning to write part-time of full-time?
If writing is a side hustle for you, earning less should be ok, because you have a second income stream.
If writing is your full-time career, you’ll need to find a good amount of clients or work for one company paying a living wage.
Think about how many hours you have to dedicate to writing each week and your monthly income goal.
To earn $2,000 a month. A rate of $25 an hour means you’d need to work 20 hours a week.
If this suits you, you can set your rates at $25 an hour or $25 for 500 words which takes around one hour to complete.
2. What Type of Writing Are You Comfortable Doing?
While specialising in a niche does get you a higher rate of pay, as a beginner writer you may want to start off writing in multiple niches.
It’s ok to be a generalist writer and you’ll learn a lot by fulfilling various content requests.
I started out SEO article writing, then moved to blog writing and product descriptions and now I do a lot of copywriting.
As a beginner, you have to start somewhere. And know that you can progress onto different types of writing as your skill and experience increase.
Once you choose a type of writing you are comfortable with, check the average rate for beginners in this field and set your rates accordingly.
3. Do You Have Skills or Testimonials to Back You Up?
Do you have a background in tech, finance or as a marketing professional? People will pay you high rates, to write in-depth, expert content.
Have you achieved a milestone like helping a client make million of dollars in sales?
Or have you designed SEO-friendly websites that got your clients tons of traffic? The rest of the population needs guidance with these things and you could be the writer to help.
If you have a professional background or niche knowledge, show proof when applying for writing gigs and charge a high rate for your expertise.
What Else to Consider When Setting Freelance Writing Rates
There are extra factors to consider when setting your rates.
- Cost of living in your area. Big city companies can afford to pay more than a business in a small town
- Who is the client? Are they a massive brand or a non-profit organisation?
- Ongoing work or a one-off gig? If a client asks you for 20 blog posts a month, you could charge a slightly lower rate than if they ask for a one-off. This is a great tactic to keep clients sweet and to get them coming back for more
- Can you negotiate royalties? Book writers and marketing writers may be able to negotiate a cut of all future sales that your content generates
Free Tool to Calculate Freelance Writing Rates
Are you still struggling to calculate your freelance writing rates as a beginner? I know it can be tough in the beginning.
The good news is that you can use a freelance hourly rate calculator to help out.
This free tool is designed to help you calculate the minimum freelance writing rate you should charge for your goals.
Final Thoughts on How Much Should a Freelance Writer Charge
Now you know how much should a freelance writer charge. As a beginner, set your rates a little lower to gain experience and testimonials.
Once you find your groove and clients start liking what you’re producing, increase your rates.
While some clients won’t like your higher rate and may drop away.
Your testimonials and experience can be the fuel, to find higher-paying clients and establish yourself as an expert in your niche.
Every six months re-evaluate your rates and make sure you’re charging enough.
Have you struggled to set your freelance writing rates? I’d love to know your experiences in the comments.
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