What Should Writers Charge for Freelance Writing?

Setting freelance writing rates is one of the most difficult parts of launching a writing business. Writers can find plenty of work if they’re willing to work for $5 per article or $8 per hour, but for those of us who are professionals doing this full time, we need to earn a living wage.

It’s tricky to figure out an ideal freelance writing rate since every client and project is quite different. One potential client had a 200 page double-spaced document that she wanted me to edit for $50—total. I didn’t take that project on.

Here are a few guidelines I follow in setting my price:

What is the nature of the freelance writing work?

Am I researching, development editing, blogging, proofreading, writing from scratch, or developing an entire plan for communication and marketing? Certain kinds of projects are more demanding, and therefore the price goes up. My lower prices are reserved for research and proofreading with development editing and communications work hit the higher range.

Who is the client?

Depending on the situation, I sometimes give clients price breaks. In the case of self-publishing authors, I’ll try to aim lower since all of the expenses are coming out of their pockets, and they can’t possibly understand how difficult and costly it will be to market their books! In the case of business clients, I may consider discounts for regular clients who consistently provide me with work.

What are the industry price guidelines for freelance writing?

Industry standards vary according to regions and segment of the writing business. The Writer’s Market guide has an extensive pricing list that puts my kind of work in the $15-$60 per hour price range depending on what it is. I try to aim somewhere in the middle to low middle of that price range, with $15 being my lowest rate for very specific projects and situations.

The number of clients who have balked at my prices are roughly equal number to those who have signed me on. I hope that enables me to focus on serving clients who truly value my services, rather than having to work at minimum wage for clients who don’t appreciate what a writer can do.