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. Anna

    I consider myself a good writer, and still I can’t find a client who is willing to pay more than 2 cents per word. Most pay a penny per word, and I even got stuck with a client who was paying $1 for every 200 words, so that I was spending hours and hours a day and making about $25!

    Whenever I try to ask for at least 5 cents per word, the client says that is too high.

    • Carol Tice

      Anna, that means you’re asking the wrong sorts of clients. I’ll guess that you’re meeting them through Elance, Craigslist ads, or something similar.

      You might want to check out my How to Get Great Clients ebook, for a ton of tips on how to find better quality prospects. Hint: They sell a real product or service in the real world, and their business model isn’t about getting ad clicks.

  2. Gayendri

    Hi Carol,

    Found your site really useful. I am a professional with over a decade experience in financial services. I am also into corporate writing and blog. ANy idea on reasonable quotes in Singapore and Hongkong freelance writing. Is SGD 250 per 500 word article generally ok (assuming that article scope vary)
    Thanks..

    • Carol Tice

      Afraid I don’t, sorry! Not based there. You’d need to ask around your own local writer network to find out about local going rates.

  3. CC

    Hello,

    Would it be okay if you can give me a quote on how much to charge rewriting technical articles?

    I’m from Asia, so the rate is a bit lower compared to those who come from the West.

    Any insight will be appreciated.

    • Carol Tice

      I’d really have to know a whole lot more about the gig to comment, CC — as well as your expertise, the size of the company, your cost of living and hourly rate you need to make, and more. There is no “going rate” in freelancing. Rates are highly variable.

      We do have a lot of rate conversations inside my Freelance Writers Den community — consider getting on the waiting list and joining if you’d like to be able to bounce questions like that off 1200 other writers.

  4. Kris

    I hate to be critical here, but this article not only gives absolutely no advice, but then asks & relies on YOU the reader to do her work. I personally find this sort of journalism dishonest. You’d have been better off to simply pose the question than to tease the answer without one.

    • Carol Tice

      If you hang around here, Kris, you’ll discover that’s what freelancing successfully is about…getting off it and doing some legwork. Guess I think we have plenty of concrete resources too, but they’re no use unless you get up and do something with them.

    • Joseph Ratliff

      The advice was pretty simple, Kris.

      Negotiate your rates.

      Also, Carol isn’t asking anyone to “do her work for her”… and from what I can tell, isn’t a dishonest person (aside from email exchanges, I don’t know her personally).

      Plus, a discussion such as this one usually attracts the “advice” from experienced freelancers as well, in fact, some of the comments in this very post have great advice. 😉

      Sometimes “teasing the answer” leads to the the better answer.

      On top of that, Carol provides some resources here on her site, like the “Den” when it is available.

      And… sometimes if you travel the websites of the people paying attention to this discussion, you’ll find some extraordinary resources. 🙂

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