Talking about money, especially income, has long been a cultural taboo. In the employment world and freelance world alike, this has led to chronic underpayment because so many people don’t realize they’re undercharging. Freelance writers are no exception.
Let’s put an end to that today by digging into freelance writing prices and how much writers should charge per article.
First Things First: Charge by Project, Not by Hour
Before we dig into some numbers, let’s talk about how writers should charge for their work. With few exceptions, always charge clients based on per-project or per-word rates, not hourly rates.
This benefits both you and the client. For one, clients care about their completed project, not how long it takes you. Charging per-project makes it easier for them to know what they’ll get and for what price from day one.
Per-project rates benefit writers too. As writers gain experience, most will become faster writers too. Your writing work shouldn’t cost less as you learn to do it more efficiently.
How Much Should Freelance Writers Charge Per Article?
So, the nitty-gritty: how much should you earn for your work? First of all, don’t compare freelance income to an employed writer’s salary. Freelancers aren’t just writing, we’re running a business, so it’s important to value that added responsibility.
Remember that freelancers also have more expenses including paying about twice as much in taxes. All this means a freelance writer’s income should be significantly higher than a writer with traditional employment, although it can take time to build up to it.
The fact is that there’s a massive range of prices freelancers charge. You’ll regularly see writers charging anywhere from $.05 to $1 per word or more. A good rule of thumb is to start around that lower end, perhaps $.06-$.08 per word, and gradually move up from there.
Keep in mind that some writers translate their per-word rate into a per-project rate. For instance, you might want to make $.10 per word so you price a 1000-word blog post at $100, even if the exact word count ends up anywhere between 950 to 1050 words.
Regardless of how you price projects, always be clear about the pricing and payment terms from day one. Life is easier for freelancers and clients alike when everyone’s on the same page rather than waiting and bickering about prices when the invoice arrives.
Factors That Affect Your Freelance Writing Rates
Within that huge range of prices above, how do you know where you should land? Take these many factors into account.
Type of Work
Most types of freelancing allow writers to set or negotiate their rates, but not all do. There are also content mills: businesses that hire freelancers to produce high volumes of content. Usually, it’s a white label situation: the company has many clients and they farm out the content creation to freelancers.
Content mills and other high-volume arrangements often have set prices they’ll pay, and they tend to be low: as low as $.02-$.03 per word. Many writers advise against working for content mills altogether, but truth be told, there are pros and cons.
Sure, they’re not high paying clients, but when you’re working for that low pay, you train yourself to work quickly so the pay isn’t so low for your time. These gigs also offer steady work. All told, I wouldn’t keep them around long-term but they can help while starting your career.
Clients expect to get what they pay for, so more experienced writers can charge more because they generally do higher-quality work. For this reason, most writers start at the low end of the pricing spectrum and as their years of experience increase, they raise their prices.
This isn’t a factor for ghostwriting, but for writing work that has your name attached, sometimes that name carries clout. If you were running a site, would you prefer content from someone without name recognition or someone with an established brand that readers will seek out, recognize, and respect? For work with a byline, raise your prices as your personal brand grows.
Pay rates vary by industry and niche because some niches require more specialized background knowledge. For instance, writing for tech, healthcare, and the financial sector should pay more because they aren’t just hiring any writer, they’re hiring a writer who can speak knowledgeably about the topic.
Type of Content
This blog is focused mostly on articles or blog posts, but most writers offer many types of content. Your prices should change based on that content. For instance, blog posts come together quickly so those per-word rates I mentioned above are appropriate. Social media captions, though, require fewer words but are more carefully-worded, so the per-word rate should be higher.
Research and Other Work Needed
Writing work doesn’t just involve writing. Most articles require some amount of research, while some also require meetings, collaborations with other freelancers, and more. You deserve to be paid for all that time. Consider all the time and work involved along with the word count while pricing a project.
With freelancing, steady work is like gold. Spending time finding new clients costs you time and money. That’s why some writers offer packages that include savings for larger volumes of work.
In doing this, though, be careful not to short-change yourself. Having consistent work is great but not if you’ve offered such a discount that the time you’re investing isn’t worth it.
Choosing Your Freelance Earnings
Choosing our own income is both the best and worst part of freelancing. It offers great freedom and income potential but most of us don’t start out knowing the going rate clients pay freelance writers. Ultimately, it’s a matter of reading up on the variables and price ranges, and above all, knowing your worth. And if those clients aren't paying we have advice for how to handle that too. Now make that money!