Money

How Much Should I Charge for Freelance Writing Services?

Starting a freelance writing business? The biggest issue many freelance writers run into is deciding how much to charge for freelance writing services.

You might be wondering how much should you charge for a 500 word article?

How Much Should I Charge for Freelance Writing Services?

Or what  is a good hourly rate for a freelance writer?

How much should you charge for a 500 word article?

You’re worried that if you charge too high, no one is going to want to hire you.

But if you charge too low, you won’t be able to make a living writing.

Where do you find that happy medium?

The frustrating thing is that nobody will give you a real answer on what to charge. Isn’t there a nice guidebook showing where you should set your rates?

Unfortunately, setting your freelance writing rates doesn’t come that easily. With such a vast range of services you can offer, there is no one right answer. However, the following information can help you get started.

Rates Tables and Resources

The closest thing there is to a rates guide is the Freelance Database by Contently.

Unfortunately, the document has some “missing holes” to it, so you might not find your service listed, and if you do, it may not be completely filled out. Still, it’s a good place to start to figure out your freelance writer salary for how much to charge for a 500 word article.

Highlights of the document:

  • Advertising copywriters charge $92 per hour or $1.63 per word on average.
  • General speech writers charge an average of $81 per hour.
  • Newsletter writers charge $82 per hour or $2 per word on average.
  • Web page writers charge $83 per hour or $0.86 per word on average.
  • Whitepaper writers charge an average of $107 per hour.
  • Magazine ghostwriters charge $100 per hour or $1.08 per word on average.

These free writing rates are a good guidelines for copywriting rates and ghostwriting rates.

Highlights from the rate guide:

  • The average freelance bloggers make (from this survey) is $54 per 500 words.
  • Bloggers with less than 1 year of experience typically charge around $50 per 500 words.

How to Calculate Your Ideal Rate

Resources like this are helpful to figure out your freelance writing salary, but they don’t always tell you exactly what you should charge, especially if you’re wondering how much should you charge for a 1000 word article.

That’s because there is no magic formula! Your experience and qualifications will vary from every other freelancer, as will your business expenses. But if you’re looking for an answer right now, you can calculate your ideal rate with the following steps.

  1. Determine how much money you want to make annually. Don’t settle on what your 9-5 job’s salary was since much of your salary will be going toward things you never had to pay for before, such as business expenses, retirement fund, health insurance, etc. Be sure you’re factoring all that in.
  2. Divide by the number of weeks you’ll work this year. That’s your target income per week.
  3. Divide that by the number of days you work per week. If you’re taking off weekends, then just divide by 5, for example. That’s how much you’ll want to make per day.
  4. Divide your daily target income by your billable hours. Billable hours are the hours you spend working on client projects. Don’t include the time you spend marketing, emailing, or performing other administrative tasks. Only factor in how much time you spend working on billable projects.
  5. That’s how much you should be charging per hour.

Here’s an example:

  1. You want to make $100,000 this year. (Remember that this is for your business; not all of this ‘freelance writer salary’ will come directly back to you as some will go into taxes, business expenses, and other overhead costs.)
  2. You want two weeks off for vacation and two weeks off for sick days/lazy days. You divide $100,000 by 48 weeks. You’re shooting for ~$2,084 of income per week.
  3. Divide that by how many days you’ll work per week. Since you want to take off weekends, you’ll divide $2,084 by 5. Let’s round to a nice number. You’ll want to shoot for $420 per day when figuring out how much should you charge for a 500 word article.
  4. Even though you spend 8 hours per day working, only 4 of those hours are spent writing for clients. The rest of your time is spent drafting contracts, speaking with clients, marketing your services, tweaking your website, filing paperwork, etc. So you’ll take $420 divided by 4. You’ll want to charge $105 per hour.

(This is an example for illustration purposes only. These rates are possible, but you may not start out here.)

Don’t want to do the math? Use this freelance hourly rate calculator from All Freelance Writers

But what if you don’t charge per hour?

Let’s say you charge a flat fee per project. Then what you’ll want to do is determine how long that project will take you. Let’s say a client requests a 1,000-word article. You estimate it will take you two hours to draft, research, and edit the post. Given that your hourly freerlance rate is $105 and it will take you two hours, you’ll charge a flat $210 fee.

Now let’s say you want to charge per word. Since you already figured out how long it will take you and how much you should charge based on that, simply take your $210 divided by 1,000 words. You’ll charge $0.21 per word.

Things to Keep in Mind

Taking a look at these rates, it may seem like they’re super high. $105 per hour? That’s quadruple what you got at your day job!

But it’s not . . .

Michelle Goodman explains in her article on Entrepreneur:

You might think $40, $50 or $60 an hour sounds like a lot. But factor in taxes, business expenses, health insurance, retirement savings, vacation days and the fact that you’re hustling for work 5, 10 or however many unpaid hours a week, and you’re lucky if you take home $20, $25 or $30 an hour.

You also have to remember that not all your hours are billable, and that $100/hr or so is only in reference to your billable freelance writing salary hours. So if you’re working 8 hours per day using the example above, you’re only technically making ~$50 per hour. Factor in all your expenses, and you’re realistically taking home maybe $30 per hour.

Another thing to remember is that you have to find a balance between supply and demand. It might sound great to start out at $0.20 per word for blog posts, but if you can’t find any clients willing to pay that much, then you’re not going to make any money at that rate.

Also consider what value you have to add to the table. Do you have a degree? An extensive portfolio? Years of experience? Those types of things will help you convince clients that you’re worth your rates.

Ultimately, It’s Up to You How Much You Charge for a 500 Word Article!

The reason there isn’t a clear-cut rate to charge for a 500 word article is because it’s all up to you. As a sole proprietor, you get to set your rates. Things that will vary from one freelancer to another includes:

  • The project type
  • Services offered
  • Time spent working
  • Income goals
  • Experience level
  • Living expenses

For instance, I live in an area of the country where living expenses are relatively low. Plus, I get health insurance through my husband’s job. My income goals, then, would be less than someone living in, say, New York City who doesn’t have a spouse’s job to cover his/her health insurance.

How much are you thinking about charging your clients? What are you nervous about when setting your rates? Let me know in the comment section.

Check Out My Most Comprehensive Freelance Writing Course!

Alicia Rades (@aliciarades) was a freelancer for many years before she became a USA bestselling author. Her freelancing and writing advice has been seen on sites like ProBlogger, All Indie Writers, Blogging Wizard, Be a Freelance Blogger, and more. Learn more about her bestsellers at AliciaRades.com, and connect with her on Twitter.

Leave a Reply

26 Comments

In pricing articles, I’m trying to figure out what all I should include in the standard fee, such as: topic pitching, image sourcing, meta descriptions…. Not sure if I should be pricing these as add ons or included in my flat fee. Any thoughts?Reply to Stefanie
This is a great article. You have mentioned that most writers would usually charge per hour or per word. However, I have seen some companies charge per page if the type of content is large enough. I had a whitepaper written for my company by Content Development Pros and they had charged me per page of the whitepaper.Reply to Simon
you covered all the topic in this article. Thank you so much for sharing this such a great information.Reply to krinal
Alicia, Thank you so much for this article! It was very insightful for a newbie freelance writer such as myself. Although I am still learning what to charge per 500 words, this article gives me a great starting point. -KimReply to Kimberly
Hi Alicia! Great article. Thanks so much for all of the helpful info. Is there any chance that you’ve saved a PDF of the Writer’s Market guideline? The link you share is a dead one. Thanks!Reply to Bernadette
As a writer, I normally charge from 2 cents per word all the way up to 10 cents per word. The reason for the huge swing in cost per word has to do with the type of people that I write for. For example, for those who are blind or visually impaired, since they don’t have a lot of money to spend, I normally charge just 2 cents per word whereas with everybody else, I charge 10 cents per word. When it comes to what you charge for your writing services and such, the prices are all over the board. There’s really no set price for beginners, intermediate, or professional writers. There are many factors that come into play as to what you charge, and since not everyone has the same circumstances, it really isn’t all that easy to just spit out a general price for what you should charge. I guess it all depends upon you and what your other expenses are, and what you feel you are worth. It may also include what you may want to make per year and so on. It wouldn’t hurt to do a little experimenting to see what prices work best for you. You will probably find that there is a sweet spot that you can work in that will help you to determine what you should charge per word for your writing. You could also do a pole to see what people are willing to pay. For example, you could do the following below. POLE What would you be willing to pay per word for a 500 word article? Choose from the options below. 1 1 cents per word 2 5 cents per word 3 10 cents per word 4 15 cents per word 5 20 cents per word From the pole above, people would choose what option they would feel like paying. Then when you have collected all of the data from their input, that would give you a good round about idea of what you should charge to get people to purchase your services. You would then know what the majority of people would be willing to pay and you could set your fees accordingly.Reply to Donald
Hallo Donald I am a new writer. Would you mind coaching me and probably hook me up with genuine clients or companies? I have applied on top freelance sites though not getting response.Reply to Anthony
Very helpful Alicia, thank you!Reply to Tara
Thanks, that breakdown is very useful! Although I’ve written forever I’m just looking into making a living from copywriting now and it can be difficult initially to provide quotes.Reply to Lauran
Actually, your numbers make sense, because a sponsored post remain forever on a blog and in search engine. A brand will get leads forever from that blog post as long as the website will be live compared with social media campaigns that get attention only for certain periods or with certain campaigns.Reply to Maria
Thanks for all the suggestions about the price. The other day a guy send me a propose for work and I said him I normally charge 0.040 per word and he told me is so expensive but I’m a copywriterReply to Marcelle
Really great article. Thanks so much for sharing this. Although, it did raise a point I struggle with as an active freelance writer already in business, which is the time it takes me to write. As I read your example of 1,000-word blog that only takes 2 hours to research, write, and edit, I thought, “Really?” That seems lightning fast to me for an article to have both quality writing and qualified research (and that’s for a repeat client with familiar content). Just curious, how long did it take for you to write this 1,200 word article, already being an SME (Subject Matter Expert)? Am I just way too slow of a writer? It feels that way when I come across articles about freelancing. I’d appreciate any thoughts or input!Reply to Jessica
Jessica, you may not see this since it’s a year later, but I agree with you. I have a degree in English, excellent research and writing skills, and many years of experience . I charge 50 cents a word. It definitely takes me longer than 2 hours for the research and writing of a 1000 word blog or article.Reply to Kim
Hello Kim! I am very new to freelance writing and I have just been approached to write a 500-1000 word article. I was wondering, if your available, I would love to contact you directly just to get some advice. As I said, I am new and see that your a English professor. I would love to hear your advice. Please let me know if we can connect in the near future. – KimReply to Kimberly
I agree with you Jessica! I wonder also if i am just too slow. I want my articles to have meaning and be engaging. it would take me at least 3 hours to research and write a 1000 word article.Reply to Diane
I also take much longer than this, and feel that I am a slow writer compared to others. But something that I have learned recently, in the last year as an in-house copywriter for a small ad agency, is to critique my work less and just get it out there as soon as I can feel comfortable with it. At least in my case, someone else is always reviewing it and they are usually less critical than I am. Or at least they point out the difference in direction that they want before I get too far down the rabbit hole.. Hope this helps.Reply to Nicholas
Excellent article with great points on what to consider!. Very practical advice on how to arrive at a fee. I’m just starting out doing part time free lance writing. Thanks for the post. I will definitely visit your website and follow your writings.Reply to Brian
I thoroughly enjoyed reading your post! It was informative and encouraging as well. I will be sure to keep this for future reference.Reply to Natalie
Great information. I’m so relieved to see you say that there is no one answer and that we writers are all over the place with experience, creativity, financial need, audiences, etc. Too often I feel pinned down to give a rate without knowing much about the small business, who their target market is, what platform, etc. It really is relative to the client. Do you plan on updating this information?Reply to Kimberly
Wow! This is amazing!!! You nailed the break down here! Thank you for taking the time to write this out and share this with everyone. The more we all know and work together on, the more informed our clients will be.Reply to Ed