The Going Rate for Freelance Writing — Revealed!

Carol Tice

Are you wondering what an appropriate pay rate is for your freelance writing gig? Have that nagging feeling that maybe you’re being underpaid?

Pay rates are one of the toughest issues in the freelance-writing game. Everybody wants to know — what’s the going rate for this type of gig?

There are a few places where you can at least get an idea of rates. The Writer’s Market publishes an annual survey that provides ranges for many types of writing.

For copywriters, Chris Marlow publishes a rate survey.

For magazine and other print markets, often writer’s guidelines will give you a range — Wooden Horse has many guidelines you can view for a small fee.

Laurie Lewis wrote a book all about how to decide your rates called What to Charge.

But in the end, those usually just give a range, and usually a pretty broad one.

So today, I thought I would publish the definitive rate chart for freelance writers.

Here you are. These are the going rates.

Articles: What you can negotiate.

Blog posts: What you can negotiate.

White papers: What you can negotiate.

Copywriting: What you can negotiate.

Web content: What you can negotiate.

Did you notice a pattern there?

That’s right.

The reason it’s been so hard to figure out what the going rate is for your particular type of writing is because it all depends.

Ultimately, there is what you are willing to accept as payment for your work, and what the market will bear. Where those two rates meet, you have a gig.

Some of the key factors that go into determining rates are:

  • How much writing experience you have.
  • How much experience you have writing this type of assignment.
  • How much experience you have with this particular topic.
  • The size of the publication or company.
  • How highly that client values freelance writing talent.
  • How much revenue that client is pulling in.
  • How urgently they need to get this writing project done.
  • How unusual the skills needed for this writing assignment are.
  • How pro your writer website looks.
  • Whether you can provide testimonials or referrals.
  • The strength of your query letter or letter of introduction.
  • Your negotiating skills.

Now that you understand how variable rates are, how can you decide what to charge? My big tip for determining your rates:

Ask around.

Hopefully you belong to some writer networks. Find out what they think of your bid proposal. I personally have made several thousand dollars more this year so far by asking my networks and learning I should raise my bids.

I know some of the writers on this blog, and on Freelance Writers Den, have been nothing short of shocked to compare notes and discover how underpriced they were.

Use research resources like I’ve listed above to get at least a vague idea of rates for your project type.

Try to get a really good estimate of how long the project will take, so you can figure it by your hourly rate. Which is the only rate that really matters, time being your most precious resource.

Ask my favorite client question: “What’s your budget?”

Ask a lot of questions before you give a quote.

Finally, here’s the number-one thing you need to know about freelance-writing rates: As you do more gigs and get more experience, your rates should go up.

Come back later this week to learn ways you can make that happen.

How do you decide what to charge? Leave a comment and tell us your approach.

 

54 Comments

  1. Natalie

    I’ve gotten stuck writing for content farms like Textbroker. Even their level 4 writers (second to top) they only pay 1.4 cents per word, so that in order to make enough money to actually live on, you have to churn out articles as quickly as possible and work to hit word limits rather than work for quality. Not to mention it is almost ALL ghostwriting, so that someone else’s name goes on your hard work. I am looking to break away from that, but I keep applying for jobs and have yet to find a client who is willing to pay decent rates. Most of them pay 1-2 cents per word and act as if this is such a high rate and writers should be so grateful to be working with them. And again, it is all ghostwriting, so I don’t even get credit for it or get to build a portfolio. They are also very demanding in terms of quality, when considering what they are paying they don’t really have the right to be.

    When I have tried to apply for better jobs, I have never gotten them because I don’t really have enough in my portfolio to demonstrate to them that I’m a good writer. I can’t use any of my writing for the content farms and Elance clients as samples, because that is no longer my property once I turn it in.

    • Carol Tice

      Natalie, I know a lot of writers in your boat — that’s why I created my Escape the Content Mills course with Linda Formichelli.

      You’re smart to realize you need to break this cycle to move forward. “Applying for jobs” on Craigslist or Elance doesn’t bring better pay either, as you’ve figured out.

      That class goes through how to find BETTER clients, and is designed especially to address the problems of writers in your exact situation who are hobbled by a lack of clips. We’re releasing the final version of the class in just a week or so, so stay tuned!

Related Posts

A Look Inside Den 2x Success Stories

The Freelance Writers Den is the online community where freelance writers learn how to grow their income -- fast. Inside the community, there are two levels: The Freelance Writers Den is for freelancers who are just getting started, learning the basics, and giving...