How Much Should You Charge As A Freelance Writer?

by Chris Bibey

There are many obstacles that new freelance writers run into. But when it comes down to it, none are bigger than trying to put together a pricing schedule or rate sheet. No matter what you call it, you need to know what prices you are going to charge potential clients. This can be a tricky proposition because charging too much will scare away potential buyers, but selling yourself short will result in leaving a lot of money on the table.

When I began my freelance writing career, I must admit that my pricing schedule was a bit out of kilter. I was spending so much time on other tasks that throughout my first month I never really had a solid pricing schedule in place. Instead, I did what I thought was right at the time. While this ended up working out in the end, looking back I can see that I lost several clients and that I probably worked for too little when I did not have to.

Here are three tips to follow when putting together a pricing schedule.

1. First and foremost, find out what other freelance writers are charging. You do not necessarily want to quote the same prices as them, but this is a great jumping off point. If at all possible, find out what other freelance writers with your experience are charging. After all, a newbie cannot usually get away with asking the same prices as seasoned veterans.

2. I always felt that it was a little better to place my rates just below the competition. This is not to say that I work for pennies, but in many cases a client will choose the lowest priced provider just because they can save money; even if it is only $20 or so. Remember, every client wants to feel like they are getting a good deal. If you have the work experience and samples to back yourself up, a client will almost always choose the lower price.

3. Keep in mind that your pricing schedule does not and will not stay the same. Take my sales letter rate for example. Much to my surprise, in my first year of freelance writing I wrote in upwards of 20 or so sales letters. My price for them at the time was $50 to $100 depending on the topic and length. As you probably know, there are some writers who charge more than $500 for a single sales letter. But since I was new to the industry, I felt that this was the best way to get my feet wet. Over time, this has changed quite a bit. Now, for a similar sales letter I would ask for a fee of $250 to $300. While this is still far from what some freelance writers ask, it is much more than my initial rate.

To expand on the points above, number one is very important. You want to know what other freelancers are charging so that you can get in the same ballpark without undercutting yourself.

In my early days, I found that there were two easy ways to gather information on rates from other writers.

  1. Take a few hours out of your day to scour the Internet for websites and blogs maintained by freelance writers. While some of them will not list rates online, many of them do. Bookmark all of the information that you find, and then use this to your advantage when putting together your pricing schedule.
  2. If you continually find writers who are not listing their prices, why not email them and ask? Personally, I never wanted to lead anybody on so I would send a sincere email explaining my situation. For me, this was much better than pretending that I wanted to hire the writer just so I could learn their rates. Believe it or not, most freelance writers are more than happy to share information on pricing and much more.

One of the most exciting parts of becoming a freelance writer is putting together a pricing schedule. After doing this for the first time, you will feel invigorated that there are so many opportunities waiting for you.

To help you come up with your own pricing schedule, I have included my schedule of estimated fees from my early days as a writer. This is what I used to send out to clients, and still use from time to time. You are welcome to use my price list as a template for your own pricing structure.

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Chris

About Christine Syquia

Christine Syquia is the owner of the Accessory Business 101. Get her free 30-page report which discusses how one can start a product based company with little to no experience. You can access the free report here. In addition to working with designers, Christine also enjoys working with local businesses as a business and expansion consultant in Santa Monica, California where she lives.

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22 Comments

  • I m actually promoting a new writer this week and this will help her , thanks, amazing to me is how many people want to hire writers for a link on their page

  • Interesting thoughts, but it does rely heavily on the market which means that you may be selling yourself short.

    I’ve always found a better technique is to simply consider the minimum that you would work for and start from there. For example, if you’ll work $10 p/hour and a job will take 2 hours – charge $20. When you start getting enough work that it’s hard to keep up, then put the prices up.

    If you’re always comparing to others, you’re valuing what they’re worth rather than yourself.

  • Nice article. It would be interesting to explore the issues involved with hiring a freelance writer and how a budding internet entrepreneur could maximize their services. I think I will expand on that topic myself in the next couple of weeks.

  • Hey guys and gals -

    I wanted to stop by to say thanks for all the useful comments. I would be happy to have everybody as readers at my blog as well.

    And of course, please let me know if you have any specific questions!

  • I just signed up for Elance as a writer and have found some very interesting opportunities there for a writer.

    I highly recommend it to anyone that wants to get into the writing industry full force, but make money right out of the gate.

    Currently, a first tier membership is only $11/month and you can land jobs that pay $100 all the way up to $1000! This is a good way to start so you can test a dynamic set of writing skills, then later move on to offering your services on your own site or as a freelance. The URL for Elance is simply http://www.elance.com

    Check it out!

  • I’ve done some freelancing myself, and learned not to sell myself short. Remember, if anyone hires you to write they’re doing it to make money from your work; you don’t owe them anything.

  • Hi Chris,

    You raised some valuable points there. When I started out as a freelancer I adapted mys rates to the market to have a chance against competitors.

    I also strive to deliver high quality work and therefore many clients have come back to me time and time again. The best compliment as a freelancer is when you start getting referrals from prior clients.

    Once I gained more experience I was able to raise my rates and adapt to my experience in the field.

  • Hello

    I am just starting a blog as a retired schoolteacher and my clever daughter is helping me. She has helped me find your site. I would like to say your tips are great, even in the non commercial context.

    Just as well I have retired-I did not “get” the spam protection first up.

    All the best

    Anne

  • Hi Chris/Yaro,

    Your blog comes at the time when I’m searching for a freelance writer for my website/blog. It give me some insights on where to start.

    My site/blog will be similar to Yaro’s blog – ie reviewing ‘good’ affiliate products to the readers (not meant to compete with Yaro).I’m a newbie in IM and want to start it with the best way possible.

    If possible, could you please recommend a couple of candidates that you think could produce good
    affiliate product reviews that your readers and myself could hire. I could have the same from elance, however I would like have it right at the first time.

    Cheers,

    Eman Eli
    http://www.FutureBizToday.com

  • Chris,

    This is really valuable information.

    Terry is right, when it comes to good copy it’s crucial for most marketers and very few people excel at copy, so a writer, should never sell themselves short!

    Gisele

  • This article couldn’t have come at a better time. Especially with the writers’ strike still ongoing. It makes me wonder if freelance writing and online writing are also affected. I’m basically just a newbie and freelance writing was something I love to do in my spare time. I was actually thinking along the lines of, “Whatever I can get is good enough for me. After all, it’s only extra income.” But I also realize that there’s an opportunity to increase one’s price in the future.

  • It would be very good to read some post with tips about ways to get clients once you have established your prices. Thank you for this post.

  • Hey all – Just wanted to drop in again and say thanks for all the comments. If you have any detailed questions, visit my blog or email me!

  • Thanks very much for this very informative article, I do a bit of freelancing myself and find it hard to know how much to sell myself for, and find it even harder making a living from it.

    I write articles on things I know a lot about, but it seems to me that it is becoming increasingly hard to find people who are actually willing to pay reasonable amounts of money to purchase unique articles.

    Your pricing guide really epitomizes this; sure in theory $50/page for a press release i about right, but where am I meant to find someone willing to spend the money?

    Any help would be much appreciated; am I best to advertise my services on forums, other websites or where? Thanks

  • If you continually find writers who are not listing their prices, why not email them and ask? Personally, I never wanted to lead anybody on so I would send a sincere email explaining my situation. For me, this was much better than pretending that I wanted to hire the writer just so I could learn their rates. Believe it or not, most freelance writers are more than happy to share information on pricing and much more.

  • Hi Chris,
    I’ll stick to your blog for good advice on freelancing, which I couldn’t do, from now. I missed it hell lot of stuff here!
    I request you to guide me on getting freelance gigs as a copywriter with a decade of experience and more, and as a writer too.
    How do I do that? Should I take tests in Elance, which they ask us to do (newbies), and then only pitch for jobs?
    Are there any sites where the registration is minimal, pls. do give me advice.
    Hope you wouldn’t mind to help me, Chris!
    Thanks
    Solomon

  • Hi Chris,
    I was a writer in Montana on a state website for children and then moved to the Denver area. Here it has been hard to find writing jobs and after working in the “corporate world” (usually in some soul murdering capacity, like general correspondence) I decided to stay home with my kids and work on the internet. However, even though there are lots of websites to write on, none of them have paid well enough to really replace my income. Most recently I have written articles on Associated Content and have been looking for assignments on GetAFreelancer.com. AC only pays a small upfront fee, like 3 or 4 bucks, and then very small payments per 1000 views. (I am up to 1.50 for 1000 views.) Anyway, I thought it would be nice to take some better paying freelance assignments and what I am seeing in GetAFreelancer.com are exteemely low paying. For example, some people want 40 articles and are willing to pay only $1.00 for each. Another said, “I have a budget of $30.00. How many articles can I get for this.” One of the bids was 10 articles. I am baffled. Where can I expect to get a decent amount for my work? Do you know of reputable websites or other sources for freelance writing assignments? Please let me know. Thanks, Mariah

  • Thank you Christopher for your article and for sharing your first schedule of fees. I am just getting started and I was not sure what might be fair. I did not wish to be greedy or foolish.

    Thanks for your help.

    M. Day

  • You also need a portfolio to show people you have the right skills.

  • Thanks for the tips. I appreciate it!

  • Z

    I’m new to freelance writing and I was recently asked to write an article of at least 1000 words fro a magazine. Any advice on how much I should charge?

  • Joan Nemeth

    Hi, I just wanted to say thank you for your openness and encouragement. I have not exactly been a freelance writer in the strictest sense, but am finding some opportunities, so I appreciate your guide for rates. I have a better idea of value per project.

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