If you are new to freelance writing, this may not be the first article you went looking for searching, “what to charge” for your freelance writing services or “writing rate” for freelancers.
When you are trying to figure out how much to charge clients, you might be thinking, “What’s the going writing rate?” After searching and searching you might find out that the writing rate is as little as $15/hr and as much as $200+/hr.
How do you determine your writing rate when the numbers are all over the place? This article will help you tackle rates in many ways.
Freelance Writing Rate for the Beginner Writer
Minimal Writing Rates
When starting out, you might think that all you want to make is your nursing wage an hour. I would encourage you to add 50% to that because of taxes. That’s what I did when I first started writing, and when I received assignments that I was making more than that, I was beyond thrilled. But, how do you know you’ll finish the article in a “per hour” pricing model?
This is when I tell you, friends, charge differently for different projects.
Project Pricing Shift
When determining a writing rate, take a look at what you are charging now. If you start with a time tracker like And.co, you can get an exact definition of how long an article takes you to write. When you are figuring out the pricing per “project” (or article), determine if the hourly rate you are charging is including all the workflow steps you use to draft an article.
Also, take a more in-depth look into the deliverables. Are you just writing? Or are you enhancing the SEO, publishing it, finding graphics, researching, using the content strategy? Companies think we can just take a topic (that we usually have to think of) and run with it. Most times, I don’t see that type of model, there’s always some sort of added task beyond writing the article.
For example, if you are currently writing four blog posts for a client at a writing rate of $50/hr, and you notice it takes you about 6 hours a month, making your invoice $300, turn that $300 into a per post rate of $75/post, and let that just be writing. You can package deal it with the added services you may already be doing.
When to Raise Your Rates
As a freelancer and owner of your own business, you get to call the shots. You should always be upping your writing rate if you know you can deliver as promised. When you email prospects, turn their attention to the project rate and keep going up to $10, $20, $30 at a time, until someone says no because there is always room for negotiation.
Feel bad about raising rates? Don’t. Money is something we were always taught “doesn’t grow on trees.” Of course, money doesn’t grow on trees, but companies have a budget set aside for writers, so don’t be scared to set your writing rate. Remember to include some expenses in your base project rate to make sure you are covering yourself.
Different Writing? Change the Rate
Article writing is one type of many types of writing, and the rates change with each one. Think about what you offer your clients over other writers. In the case of myself, I am a nurse, so my writing rate needs to reflect as a higher wage than someone who is only a health writer without that expert knowledge or a degree.
Stop the per Word Rates
I have dealt with clients in the past that ask me for a writing rate per word. This is tough for me because I hate word stuffing posts just to get more money. I have seen it in writers too. Utilizing the project rate can give you an easy solution to the per-word pricing because you can make a range for pricing.
For example: you can lay your project rates as 300-500 words = $X 500-800 = $X 800-1000 = $X.
Determining your business income goal
To create some goals for yourself, take this formula into account for this year.
Think of how much money you want to make this year in your business.
Divide by the number of weeks you’ll work this year (52 in a year, but you may want a couple of weeks vacation). That’s your target income per week.
Divide that by the number of days you work per week. If you’re taking off weekends, then just divide by 5. This is your rate per day.
Divide your daily target income by your billable hours. Billable hours the actual hours you spend working on client projects.
This is why time tracking can help you until you get things into more of a routine. If you are working in the hospital still, you may think you have a 12-hour shift to work on your day off, until you start to do the calculations.
That’s how much you should be charging per hour.
Here’s an example:
You want to make $80,000 this year. (Remember you will have taxes, business expenses, and overhead.)
You want two weeks off for vacation and two weeks off for personal days.
Now, divide $80,000 by 48 weeks. Your goal is to make $1666 of income per week.
Divide that by how many days you’ll work per week. Since you want to take off weekends, you’ll divide $1666 by 5. You’ll want to shoot for $333 per day.
This is if you spend 8 hours per day working, but only using 4 of those hours are writing for clients. The other nonbillable tasks take up the additional four hours. Now, you’ll take $333 divided by 4.
You’ll want to charge $83 per hour. Now, start tracking your time, and when you realize how long that writing (and other tasks like researching and editing) takes you, multiply your hours by your rate, and you’ll land at your flat project fee.
The Best Type of Client
Retainer clients are a freelancer’s best client. These clients understand your project fee, and you agree on a number of deliverables each month for the exchange of a monthly retainer rate. When you have a monthly retainer, you have guaranteed income that you don’t have to worry about, and you’re not creating proposals or talking to them every month for new rates.
When deciding how to choose which pricing model, it’s really up to you. Talk to your client, ask their budget and if the time is right, take the work, but never work without a contract. Also, I don’t expect you to jump on the job right away. Be sure you have clear expectations of deliverables and make sure you’re not doing too many admin types of tasks without getting paid.
Like what you’re reading? Take a listen to our podcast called The Savvy Scribe Podcast!
Interested in taking your health writing business further? Join us in the Savvy Scribe Growth Lab!