Freelance Writing for Beginners: Step 2: Setting Your Freelance Writing Rates


Freelance writing rates are a very personal thing. No other topic breeds as many debates between beginning and more advanced writers. No other topic pits the content site writers against the journalists. If there’s a discussion regarding rates, be prepared for the controversy that will follow. We couldn’t do a series for beginners without including a discussion about rates, though. Every day we received letters asking what freelance writers should charge their clients. I tell anyone who writes asking about rates that I can’t make that decision for them. However, I do offer some things to consider when setting rates.

Here are some things to think about when setting freelance writing rates:

  • What is your time worth? This isn’t any easy question to answer.  All freelancers must have a general idea of their self-worth as a freelance writer before quoting a rate to a potential client.
  • What is your experience? If you won a Pulitizer it’s safe to say you’d command higher rates than a beginner. If you’ve been published in several different magazines or have a newspaper column, you’ll probably earn more than someone who is looking to publish his first piece of writing. Experience is a big factor when setting rates.
  • What is the client’s budget? Before quoting a rate,  do some research. Does your potential client appear to have a big budget? What type of business does he run? What does his website look like? How many people does he employ? If it’s just one person, and the website is looking low budget you may not quote the same rate as the client with the unlimited budget.
  • What’s your overhead? How much are you paying out each month to be a freelance writer? Your fee should cover taxes, insurance, electricity, gas, Internet and other expenses – plus some left over to tuck away.
  • What is expected of you? It’s one thing to write an “off the top of your head blog post or article” but it’s quite another to have to do research or interview experts. Make sure you’re well compensated for the work you do.
  • Charge additional fees accordingly: If you’re expected to do a rush job, you’ll probably want to charge extra since you have to drop everything and work long hours  to get it done.

My bottom line? Make sure you’re making a profit. If you’re breaking even or barely getting by, it’s not worth the effort. Here are some posts about rates:

What are some of the factors you consider when setting your own freelance writing rates?

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2 responses
  1. Lucy Smith Avatar

    I got a good formula from an old boss, who said that if you go freelance, to decide your hourly rate, take your annual salary from your last job and strip off the last three zeros. So if you were earning $35,000 a year, your hourly rate will be $35 an hour. This was in PR, but I think it makes sense for a lot of industries.

    However you figure it, the trick is not to go too low. Charge too low and people will wonder why you’re cheap. People are more likely to think you’re worth hiring if you’re charging a decent amount. Well, the ones who are willing to pay realistic money, anyway.

  2. Tania Mara Avatar
    Tania Mara

    It seems to me that many beginners think they’re supposed to charge the same fees under different circumstances. They don’t think too much about rush fees, for instance.

    Experience is another important factor. It makes a world of difference when you start marketing your services. Even if you’re getting started as a freelance writer, you can use your professional experience in other industries to stand out from the crowd.

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