As a freelance writer, I get asked all the time how to structure prices for services like these. I see it in the forums and I hear it from people just starting out. And I used to ask the same questions.
It would frustrate me to no end when successful freelance writers would say things like “You have to find what works for you,” or “Decide what you want to make in a year and calculate your hourly charges accordingly.”
It was frustrating because I would love to make a million dollars a year, but let’s face it, nobody in their right mind was going to pay a freelance writer $500 an hour to write, especially starting out!
Here’s my take on it (and I first heard it from Brent Jones): Some money is better than no money.
It all depends on how you look at it, and now I know why those other freelance writers give that advice. It really does depend on what you’re comfortable with.
As a freelance writer, I started out making $25 for a 500-750-word blog post. I never went below that, but I know many freelancers who did.
The bottom line is if you are comfortable making $8 for a blog post starting out, don’t let anyone else bully you into not taking the job. Think of it as practice. In fact, you will most likely write many blog posts for free during your career to get exposure by guest posting.
But on the flip side of that, if you are appalled at that rate, don’t let anyone tell you that you have to take it either!
So what rates can you reasonable expect as a freelance writer?
Let’s take a look.
It’s completely true that you don’t want to underprice yourself so much that you’re making $1 an hour, but you’re probably going to be much slower at your job when you first start out, so chances are, you will work for lower pay at first.
I rarely use an hourly rate unless I’m doing admin work, but some freelancers charge this way, and it’s perfectly okay.
As a new writer, you need to take into consideration what others are willing to pay you, along with what you’d like to make. In my experience, it’s not too difficult to get $15-20 an hour as a freelancer, as long as it’s not taking you 6 hours to write 500 words.
Flat Rate Pay
For that reason, I like the flat-rate model better. When I first started, it honestly did sometimes take me several hours to write one piece because I had no idea what I was doing and I wanted it to be perfect.
I based my prices on how long I thought a piece should take and the average rate people seemed to be offering freelancers on the job boards. I mean, yes, I was making terrible wages once in a while, but I was getting clients, exposure and practice. That’s worth a lot!
Specifically, after my first few assignments of $25 each, I started charging a flat rate of $40 for a 500- word blog post and $70 for 1,000 words. I actually still have a couple of $40 per blog post clients. Oh the horror!
Because they pay the bills, they are very quick and easy for me to write, and they are super clients I’m not ready to lose! Keep in mind these are blog posts that typically take me less than an hour to write, and $40 an hour is a perfectly respectable and comfortable rate as far as I’m concerned.
By the Word
The third way writers charge is by the word, and this is something I kind of figure in when deciding my rates each year. Some writers say you should never charge below $.07 per word, but again, it depends on what you’re comfortable with. As you can see, my rate hovers around that mark, but I didn’t start out there.
If you like this model, use it! A lot of writers do. I simply prefer the flat-rate model to protect my clients from unexpected charges. I rarely go under the word count, but I often go over. In those cases, I would have to re-calculate their fees, and I find my clients are much happier when they know what to expect.
Wrapping it Up
I hope this gives you a little insight into how other structure their pricing. It can be really frustrating just starting out when you can’t get specific answers, but the truth is, you will find what works for you, and when you stop getting clients, you know you’re charging too much for your level of expertise.
Stay tuned for a future post about how to raise your rates!