How to Set Freelance Writing Rates: Per Word, Article or Hourly?

  • Writing
Contra Tips
· 6 min read

When considering a fair rate for a freelance writer, many factors come into play. This helpful “how-to” will guide you through the basics.

Many assume that anyone with a keyboard is qualified to write professional copy. Not surprisingly, most pro copywriters would argue that this couldn’t be further from the truth. 

With so much content available online, retaining readership (and attracting customers!) is all about providing information that is clear, precise, accurate, and informative — which is no simple task. While some business owners may have writing skills that allow them to manage this aspect of their business alone, many opt to invest in the services of a professional freelance content writer.

Unfortunately, there’s very little structure to dictate what a fair rate for freelance writers looks like. If you're wondering how much to charge as a freelance writer or looking to learn how freelance writing rates can change based on experience, field, and the type of writing required, here’s what you need to know.

Types of freelancing rates 📏

There are five main types of rates an independent writer can set. Each has pros and cons and may work better for writers in particular fields. Regardless of whether a writer is delivering white papers, blog posts, or social media content, the main types of freelance writing pricing models are as follows:

  • Per project. A flat fee for a project means that a freelance writer knows exactly how much they’ll be making. This alleviates some of the stress of freelance work. A flat rate also means that an Independent’s hourly income increases as they become a more proficient writer.
  • Per hour. A much more popular choice for those starting out as freelance writers is to charge by the hour. A freelance writing hourly rate guarantees no unpaid work hours, and an Independent will be compensated for client meetings, revisions, or scope creep. 
  • By word. Charging by the word is helpful for writing within strict word counts or for jobs that may be difficult to quote as writing jobs (e.g., websites and social media captioning). As a writer becomes more specialized, freelance writing rates per word can be raised to reflect the experience the Independent brings to the project.
  • By page. Charging by page is a good practice for longer writing projects. An Independent hired to create content for a series of web pages, an ebook, or a ghostwritten novel will often charge by the page.
  • By client. Freelance writers that have built relationships with preferred clients may consider setting a “retainer” — an ongoing contract with a client in which they are obligated to deliver a certain amount of copy in return. Retainers can be difficult when renegotiating rates or encountering scope creep.

Whether they’re a blog writer, ghostwriter, or content marketer, the rate an Independent chooses is based on both individual work preference and the needs of specific projects.

What to consider when setting freelance rates ⚖️

The first thing to consider is the average rate for freelance writers with different expertise. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has a wealth of information on professional writing, projecting a growth rate of 4% for writers and authors over the next decade, well in line with most other occupations.

Other factors to consider may include the following:

  • Experience. Beginner freelancers in many industries commonly underprice their services. Although years of experience certainly play a role in the different rates freelance writers should charge, establishing a reasonable initial rate is vital to make a living.
  • Writing time. How long does it take a copywriter to write a piece of content? Is it different depending on the type of content? This is a crucial question in determining freelance rates. More complex projects may take more time to craft and therefore require a higher rate.
  • One-off or ongoing. The relationship with a client can have some effect on pricing. Reliable clients with ongoing projects may be offered a discount or retain a lower rate when the freelancer raises their prices.
  • Client requirements. If a client requires numerous meetings or wants to review a project multiple times before it is completed, a freelancer should take this into account when setting a rate. Consider whether rates for writing and rates for meetings are the same, what deliverables and deadlines are required, and whether this is clear in the contract.
  • Complexity. The amount of time, energy, research, and writing a project requires contributes to the overall complexity of a piece. The more complex an assignment, the more a freelancer can charge.

What is the average rate? 💰

Determining an average rate isn’t exactly easy, as the range is vast. The different kinds of rates also make comparisons difficult. Depending on a writer’s ability, an hourly rate and a per-word rate may produce vastly different incomes. 

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median hourly rate for a writer in 2021 was $33.42 — approximately $69,510 per year.

Here is some valuable context on rates for freelance writers based on a recent survey of 344 freelance writers:

  • Per word. Although it’s a less popular way of pricing, many writers charge per word for content writing. Rates for per-word writing range from $0.05 for newer writers to $1.50 per word for those with more experience.
  • Per post. The range for simple blog posts or articles begins at $50 and can get as high as $400 or more. For a 1,500-word post, the average falls between $250 and $399 per post.
  • Per hour. Hourly rates are heavily dependent on the industry. Blog and content writers start around $15 per hour, while more experienced writers and those with specific technical expertise can command up to $65 per hour. Survey results showed that some freelancers who charge an hourly rate earn more than $100 per hour.
  • Retainer. Writers working on retainer will get a lump sum in exchange for an agreed-upon number of writing projects. For example, a company hiring a freelance writer for four blogs a week will pay an average of $1,000 per month. For emails, writers should expect about $300 per week.

Getting paid on Contra 🤑

All this talk of setting rates and getting paid might be intimidating — but fortunately, Contra Pro is here to help you manage your freelance business commission-free.

Clients looking to hire will also find numerous tools and resources through Contra. Learn how to create an enticing opportunity and explore the vast array of professional writers eager and ready for the perfect project to come their way.

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