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Freelance Writer Fees: Is There a Standard?


Making a living as a freelance writer has its perks. Work to your natural rhythms. Travel. Grow from competition. Meet some great people.

It’s why so many of  us are drawn to it.

It also has its lows, mainly the stress of putting enough projects together to earn enough money to make a living.

All of this, however, comes down to this question: how much should I charge? The answer is two-fold.

Experience as a Freelance Writer

I wish I could tell you there was a formula to this. Or even a standard. There really isn’t. I mean, on average I think writers charge $50/hour. But what it really comes down to is experience.

If you have very little experience, then $50 is high. You might be worth $25/hour. On the other hand, if you have a ton of experience (keep in mind, this doesn’t always equate into quality work), then you could easily get away with charging $100-$500/hour.

Exorbitant prices, but you are famous. People love you. And want you.

The thing you have to keep in mind is what will the market handle? If demand for writers was off the charts, then greenhorns could get away with $100/hour. When demand is low, however, $15/hour may be more realistic.

The Customer’s Budget

The other thing you have to think about is your customer. Big brands with deep pockets won’t flinch at $100/hour. A non-profit, on the other hand, will ask if you were joking.

What I’ve found to work really well is simply to ask the customer if they have a budget. This will tell you how much money they want to spend. You then need to decide if you can work inside that budget.

I like this approach because you are in control. You are not showing your cards, but getting them to show you theirs.

And if someone flinches at your rates, tell them you will back your work with a majestic amount of customer service. Better yet, tell them that BEFORE  you tell them your rates.

Your Real Concern Isn’t Money

Here’s the deal: for new writers experience is more important than money. Cash flow isn’t the concern–obscurity is. That means you have to be willing to do whatever it takes to get a few jobs under your belt.

Even if that means working for minimum wage.

What do you think? Do you have experience setting freelance writer rates? Share your secrets.

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  1. Demian, good post.

    I would add that it’s important to get in front of the clients that understand the value of the type of copy you write… and have the budget to pay whatever fees you’re comfortable charging.

  2. Great post! I hit this dilemma with my first job and really had to weigh up the need for good income against not pricing myself out of the Market. I’m in Ireland so we talk in pounds so I charge £15 a blog post which must equate to roughly $25 – low enough down your payscale. But then again I’m only new and building a rep. Anyways cool to see your blog and il be following. Peace out @brianjohnspencr

  3. Demian,

    Great article.

    I have problems in convincing some of my clients to reveal their budgets. I guess they think if they show their cards, I’ll charge them more. What do you do in such a case?


    • Great question. Just go high. Think of the amount you would be satisfied with–and then double that amount. That will draw them out. If they say that’s too high, then ask them what they want.

  4. Great question…and one I’ve always struggled with. The way I’ve done it is to charge what I think my time is worth. I know how long something is going to take me, and I charge according to what I think my time AND knowledge (read: expertise) is worth.

    I’ll say this… Any time where I’ve been in a situation where I’ve discounted my rate, the client has been much more work than the pay was worth. Lesson = don’t discount your rates.

  5. I made the decision last January to raise my rates and never looked back. If a potential client can’t pay my rates then I don’t accept them. But the clients I have understand my value as a writer and I have more long term projects. I try to explain to fellow writers that if you are producing quality writing (that is the key…lol) you deserve to charge what you are worth. Writing is not something that comes easily to most. Demian, thank you for addressing this.

  6. Van Mabrito says:

    Hi Demian,

    I have been writing non-professionally over the past 30 years and professionally in a variety of types for the past 10 years or so–mostly writing business content for my own software biz as well as narrative stories for a publisher’s books.

    I recently began a free lance writing business and one prospective client, a web dev company, wants to know how I charge–by the hour or by project based on word count. I am in Texas and a friend who writes copy for a firm, says $50 per hour is the typical rate in Texas. I recently wrote the web content for another accomplished web dev company (my first gig) and they loved it.

    Now another web dev company is wanting to know how I charge for content: by the hour or by the project based on word count. I understand you state there is no standard. Do you have any suggestions on how to charge them? My initial thoughts are although I have a much general experience, I am relatively new to both developing web content and free lancing as well. And since I strive for excellence first my first project (paid at flat rate) was quite time and labor intensive-which I take as part of my learning curve to being a pro for now. So I am thinking my best approach might be to charge a flat rate for now–this would not only give the clients more security in knowing their costs with this unknown guy, but also give me more leeway to gain experience in producing top-quality work and in determining my time investment for a given project.
    I would appreciate your expert thoughts on that approach or any suggestions. Thanks, Demian!

    Do we take the price range of the project rate first for a general/initial quote? Then give a specific price based on the estimated hours to do the job once we get details (and as varied per above)? Also would you have any idea whether web content jobs generally are done by the hour or a flat-rate for a give project based on word count? (esp here in Texas.)

    Thanks again, Allena, and best to you in your endeavors!
    Van S Mabrito

    • Van Mabrito says:

      Sorry Demian-somehow a previous query concatenated onto my question to you. :( Please ignore last paragraph. ( I can’t find an edit button)

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