Cracking the Code: How Much Should a Freelance Writer Charge?

Do you want to earn $100k per year? $200k per year? $300k per year – or more? It’s all possible, according to a recent article where the author interviewed freelancers to spill their secrets about how they built their businesses and how long it took to arrive at those figures.

The article featured Michael Keenan, a freelancer based in Mexico, earning $400k after his sixth year. He admitted that you don’t earn big just from writing average content. He explained that you need to continually improve your writing skills and subject expertise – so you can charge more.

The article also featured Bani Kaur, a writer based in India, who hit the $100k mark after freelancing full-time for 14 months.

As you work to increase earnings, you might wonder: How much should a freelance writer charge anyway?

Here’s a quick guide to get you started, plus some industry averages and my personal experience.

How much should a freelance writer charge?

It’s hard to know how to price a project. Should you charge $100 or $1,000 for a blog post? Should you charge $500 or $1,500 for a case study? The answer is: it depends. But don’t worry! I’m going to give you some general guidelines, and then specific ballparks based on industry averages.

First, a few factors that impact what you charge include:

Niche: Some niches pay higher than others. For example, I find that it’s far easier to earn well in the B2B space than in the B2C space. My theory is that the more expensive the ‘stuff’ that clients sell, the better their budgets. One survey found that among the highest-earning niches is B2B technology (something to consider if you love tech!).

Project type: You’ll earn a higher hourly rate on a whitepaper than a blog post. Why? The value of a whitepaper is much higher. Just imagine if your client sells hundreds of thousands of dollars in new software as a result of the whitepaper you wrote. The ROI (even if they pay you a large fee) will still be excellent.

Expertise and credibility: I find that it’s easier to charge professional rates when you target companies that are big enough to have a good budget (I shoot for at least five million in annual revenue) and you can show that you’re an expert in the domain. Now, what I mean by ‘expert’ is that you’ve written content in the space (or something close enough that you can make a connection).

How much should a freelance writer charge (price by word, hour or project?) 

There are three main ways to price freelance work: by the word, by the hour, and by the project.

I pretty much always charge by the project.

Why?

Because as you work with a client, you’ll get faster. The project that took you four hours last month might only take you three hours the next. And that means you’ll earn less over time, and that’s such a bummer!

Here’s an example of all the ways you could charge:

Per word: You charge a set amount per word. If you write 500 words and get paid $1 per word, you earn $500 for the assignment.

Per hour: You charge a set hourly rate. Let’s say you charge $75 an hour. Usually, a client wants a ballpark depending on how long a project will take. So, maybe you give them a range of 4-6 hours (or $300-$450).

Per project: You charge a flat fee for a project. Maybe it’s a case study, and you charge $1,500, which includes one interview, writing the case study, and up to two rounds of revisions.

So which structure should you use? Almost half of freelancers price by the project. I will always recommend charging a flat project rate. It works for the client because they can set a budget (no surprises!), and it works for you because, over time, you’ll get faster and earn more.

How much should a freelance writer charge (+real rates)?

‘I have no idea of rates – they are literally all over the board,’ a prospect said to me recently as we broached the subject of rates.

She went on to explain, ‘I’ve talked to writers that charge anywhere from $100 to over $1,000 for a blog post, so it’s hard to know what the ‘going rate’ is these days.’

My prospect had a great point.

Freelancers talk about their rates in discussion groups, so I have anecdotal ballparks, and of course, my internal rate sheet. But for this article, I turned to the Writer’s Market, which surveyed hundreds of freelancers and organizations. I included the medium to high ranges below because based on my experience, that seemed in line with professional rates. I’ve also added my two cents😉

Ghostwriting/thought leadership: $1,220 – $5,000 (I’ve found that thought leadership projects usually pay around $1 a word or more… just translate that to a project rate if that’s how you’re structuring your pricing).

Blogging: $219 – $800 (I find $400 to $800 to be a decent range).

Web writing/editing: $175 – $240 per page (I think this is kind of low. I’ve personally found professional rates to be closer to the $250 – $500 per page range).

Whitepapers: $3,000 – $12,000 (average around $310 per page).

Press releases/kits: $638 and up (the average was around $250 per page, which seems about right).

I know there is a ton of other project types you could quote, so you can use the below as a guide to creating pricing:

General copywriting rates: $400 – $1,250 per page (or $.50 – $1.50 per word, if that’s your preference for pricing…)

And by the way, if you haven’t looked through the Writer’s Market, it’s a goldmine for finding new gigs. It includes thousands of publishing opportunities for writers in consumer and trade magazines along with contact and submission info.

How to increase your freelance rates

Maybe you’re not currently earning what you want.

That’s totally fine… we’ve all got to start somewhere, right?

But should you raise rates on existing clients? I personally don’t. I know plenty of freelancers who have no problem raising rates each year, so really, it’s just preference.

With that said… I do raise them with new clients.

Other ideas if you want to increase your earnings:

Upskill: Learn new skills to offer your clients in addition to writing, such as SEO or content marketing strategy.

Pitch higher-paying projects: If you’re mostly writing blog posts, consider pitching whitepapers, or case studies. They pay much better. And if you’ve never written one before, don’t worry! You can learn. I learned by reading Michael Stelzner’s guide to writing whitepapers, and how to write case studies from Casey Hibbard’s guide.

Offer ongoing content packages. Creating content packages for your clients allows you to setup a recurring revenue stream and helps to stabilize your income and avoid the dreaded feast or famine cycle.

And do you remember Michael Keenan, the freelancer based out of Mexico who increased his earnings to $400k? He didn’t do it overnight. It took him six years (which I still think is impressive!). He didn’t hit $100k until the third year of freelancing.

Take tiny steps.

Increase your rates over time, level up to higher-paying project types, and take small, consistent actions.

Do you need help creating an ongoing marketing strategy?

Download the free template I used to generate $24,500 in new work.

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