How To Set Your Freelance Writing Rates

By on September 18, 2019

When it comes to freelance writing, one thing that can leave many of us scratching our heads is what to charge for our work. 

In most other jobs, we aren't asked what we'd like to be paid, rather we are told what we are going to be paid and we can like it or lump it (or find a different job if we don't think the compensation matches our expectations or talents)!

Often with freelance writing projects; however, it is up to us to decide what to ask for, and everything can be up for negotiation! This can feel like a massive decision as we want to be compensated fairly for our work, but how can we know what's fair, what's greedy and what's working for next to nothing?

The truth is; freelance writing rates vary dramatically. This is, in part, due to freelance writers themselves. Some are happy to work for very little, or even for free, to build up a portfolio, to get their foot in the door. However, there are others (usually more experienced, seasoned copywriters) who expect to earn an extremely lucrative living from their work and won't even bother considering jobs that aren't willing to compensate them handsomely for the writing they produce.

Set your rates too high and you could end up missing out on work because some businesses won't be able to afford you. Set them too low, and you could end up taking on a massive workload for not much reward resulting in becoming stressed and disheartened and unable to make ends meet.

Yes, there is no doubt that setting your freelance writing rates can be challenging!

So what methods can you use to determine how much you should charge potential clients? Let's take a look at some of them:

An hourly rate

An hourly rate is sometimes the easiest way to determine what will work for you. You can stipulate how much you'd like to be paid her hour and then simply log your time accordingly. This can be beneficial if you aren't sure how much research will be involved, if a project is likely to run on or expand, or if you know that the client will likely require you to do extras such as source images, have meetings and phone calls about the project and so on. Setting an hourly rate that you are comfortable with can help ensure you are paid what you feel you are worth and will indicate to clients that your time has a specific value attached to it. However, the disadvantages of this are that if you work quickly (and generally the better you get, the faster you work), you'll earn less - so being productive might not work in your favor. It also requires you to be able to work out how long you think a project will take so you can ensure it's worth doing - and that your client agrees on the estimated time; otherwise, you could run into disagreements further down the line. If you severely underestimate the amount of time it takes, you could end up at a disadvantage if the client refuses to pay much over your initial estimate.

You also need to be organized enough to log your time effectively to ensure you get paid for it. This means keeping track of writing time as well as research and time spent communicating with the client. 

You also might wish to increase your hourly rate over time, which of course is fine in theory, but if you have repeat clients and your rates go up, you might well find that they look elsewhere. 

Payment per-word

Payment per-word can be a great way for writers who are able to roughly estimate how long it will take them to write a certain number of words about any given topic. This also means that you are being paid for exactly the amount of work you do - so if your pieces end up being longer than expected you are compensated fairly . Lots of newspapers and magazines have a set rate per word that they are willing to pay and can be a less-intimidating option for new clients who don't like the idea of committing to an hourly rate. Of course, there are some cons to the per-word rate - if you are writing on complicated subject matter, you might be able to write far less quickly than when creating a simple blog post. Also, sometimes, it is difficult to know how many words you'll end up writing, and you could end up earning less than you thought you would if the word count is low. 

Charging a Project Fee

The third option is to charge a per-project rate. This requires freelancers to make sure that they understand the ins and outs of the project and exactly what is required of them (including things like amends) before they start. This can be helpful for those who like to know what they are going to be paid upfront and, if you are a fast worker, this can be particularly lucrative. Of course, if a project then takes longer than anticipated, you could end up missing out.

Weighing up these different options and deciding what will work best for you if the most beneficial way to determine how to set your rates. The most important thing for any freelancer to remember is that the more information they can get from a client before they agree their rates is so important. Doing so will enable you to determine what you want to be paid and which is the best method to set your rates by to be compensated fairly.

Do you have a particular methodology for setting your freelance rates? If so, let us know here!

bethany cadman
Bethany Cadman - bethanycadman.co.uk

About Bethany Cadman

Bethany Cadman is an author and freelance writer. Her highly anticipated debut novel 'Doctor Vanilla's Sunflowers' is available on Amazon as both an eBook and a paperback. You can find it here - http://tinyurl.com/z47t8qf

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