Freelance writers are in high demand these days. Companies are more comfortable than ever before outsourcing writing services, from content writers creating SEO-friendly articles to copywriters creating appealing sales copy that drives revenue.
While this is great news for independent authors, it also implies that they must be ready to set their own rates.
There are numerous models available, but three are the most common due to client familiarity. Continue reading to learn more about each one and how to determine which one is best for you.
How Should You Charge For Your Works As A Freelance Writer?
1. Charging Per Hour
If they come from another industry, most new freelance writers are at ease starting with an hourly pay. Whether it was an office work or another profession, you were most likely paid by the hour or had a compensation rate that converted to an hourly rate.
Hourly rates work well for new freelance writers because they don’t know how long it takes to produce a blog post, social media caption, or even a book. Setting a low hourly rate will help you get started quickly, but it can also be difficult to charge hourly because clients almost always have a budget or predetermined rate in mind for writing.
A client who has to select between a writer who charges a flat cost of $100 for a blog and someone who charges $40/hour without knowing how many hours they’ll need to accomplish the work will be confused. If it takes the $40/hour writer six hours to complete the paper, the customer may feel taken advantage of. As a result, writers should always give a range or cap depending on their best estimate of how long it will take, such as:
- “I charge $40/hour and estimate that this will take 3-4 hours.”
- “I charge $40/hour and hope to spend a lot of hours working on this.”
This makes hourly fees more accessible to freelancers while making it more difficult for clients who don’t actually know how long particular jobs take. While it might be a good beginning point, the goal for new freelance writers should be to track how long it takes them to complete a task so that they can convert it into a flat charge.
2. Charging According To Project
Once you’ve figured out what you’re doing, charging by the project is the simplest way to go. This eliminates the freelancer’s need to trade funds for hours. It also informs the client of the maximum amount they will pay right away.
Charging a flat rate or by the project is the most difficult for novices because it is so simple to undercharge, especially if you are unfamiliar with writing the length in question. Writing a 4,000-word whitepaper requires a different amount of effort than writing a 1,000-word blog article.
Consider all of the labor you undertake to complete a piece of writing, which may involve things like:
- Choosing topics or keywords
- Interviewing people
- Reading transcripts
- Adding bells and whistles like links, images, or captions
To charge a reasonable project rate, a writer must understand which of the duties listed above will apply to the project at hand and be able to estimate them fairly fast. It’s a little easier for an experienced writer who has multiple projects to look back on in that regard. However, it is not that straightforward for a beginner. Newbies may be better suited working on hourly assignments with time limits or taking on shorter/simpler parts so they don’t lose as much if their price is incorrect.
For example, you may price $75 for your first blog post but shortly discover that based on the time it took you and the quantity of labor needed, you should have charged more. That’s vastly superior than taking on a $5,000 job and discovering you were drastically undercharging, since at that point, you’re committed to a huge project, and the pain of being off cuts much deeper.
3. Charging Per Word
Charging by the word is the most frequent in the media profession, and even in some digital enterprises. This strategy works effectively when the client has a range of projects in the works for you, all of which are of varying lengths. Perhaps you discover that 3,000 words are required to cover a topic thoroughly. You’ll be paid for every word you write, while if you quote for a 2,500-word essay but send in 3,000, the customer is unlikely to agree to increase your pay to accommodate that.
By the word simplifies the calculation and is popular with agency models because it allows them to pay a large number of writers the same per-word rate while yet allowing for some variation in projects based on length.
Why You Should Consider Switching From Hourly To Project And Per-Word Rates
The basic fact is that there is no wrong way to charge for your freelance writing services. More experienced freelancers avoid charging by the hour since it represents a subtle but significant value shift: with project/word fees, your clients are paying for your competence rather than your time.
It took me longer when I first started freelancing. I established systems, purchased software, and overall became faster at what I did over time. I didn’t want to be punished for improving my speed. Similarly, a “slower” freelance writer should not be pressed to work faster because a client believes four hours is too long to compose an article.
It is not their concern whether you do the project in two or 10 hours. Avoiding the hourly rate also eliminates the chance of a client disputing with you about how long something “should” take. Their impressions may be erroneous based on your systems and processes, and moving the value perspective to the finished output at a flat or per word rate allows you to focus on meeting deadlines rather than feeling the need to defend how long it took you.