How To Set Your Freelance Writing Rate

How To Set Your Freelance Writing Rate

One of the main reasons writers choose to freelance is to gain flexibility and control over their careers. You can decide how much you charge, the hours you work, and what projects you take on as a freelancer.

But if you’re just starting out, you may be unsure how to set your rates. And if you’ve been working for a while at the same rates, you might wonder if they’re still competitive!

Pay transparency can help you figure out how much you should make as a freelance writer. Sites like Glassdoor encourage employees to post their salaries for different companies, which can give you a base range for how much writers typically make in various industries, companies, and locations. There are also trade organizations for writing and editing that give average rates to their members.

Sites like Upwork help freelancers set rates by letting clients post an estimated budget with their project. Freelancers can also look at a client's work history to see what they've paid other freelancers for past projects, as well as their overall average pay rates. Upwork Freelancer Plus even lets you see what other freelancers have bid on a project, so you know your rates are competitive.

Read on to learn more about how to set your freelance writing rates and what different factors to consider.

What types of freelancing writing rates can you use?

What to consider when setting your freelance writing rates?

What types of freelancing writing rates can you use?

When just starting as a freelancer, you may charge less to build your reputation and portfolio, and earn positive reviews. You can raise your rates as you complete more jobs and gain experience. What you charge for a project will depend on a number of factors, from the amount of research needed to the word count.

And if you’ve been freelancing for a while, you might want to look at the rates you charge to be sure they’re competitive with industry standards, and commensurate with your skills and experience.

By project (flat-rate)

Many clients like to hire freelance writers by project, paying a flat rate for their services. Paying by project is often easier for clients looking for one-off jobs or if they have a strict budget. They know exactly what they're paying, and there shouldn't be any surprises. On Upwork, you can search for hourly or fixed-price writing jobs.

As a freelancer, you may earn more by charging a flat rate for certain projects, especially as you gain experience and grow more efficient. While you may still make the same amount for an article, charging a flat rate of $300 for a piece that takes you two hours is reasonable, but a client may be put off if you ask for the same amount hourly ($150 per hour).

Advantages of by-project freelance writing rates

  • Freedom to work on your own schedule
  • No time tracking
  • Hourly rate can increase with efficiency
  • Encourages productivity

Disadvantages of project freelance writing rates

  • If there's heavy editing or changes, you can end up making less per hour
  • Can be harder to determine a fair price
  • Clients may try to negotiate lower prices

How much do freelance content writers charge per project?

Many factors can affect how much a writer charges for a project. A niche-specific freelance writer with years of experience and positive reviews typically has higher rates than a newer writer with a broader subject range. What you charge may also depend on the content and whether or not you'll need to do research.

Average writing service rates by project

  • White paper. The average freelance writing rate for a whitepaper depends on the length and the amount of research needed. Writers typically charge around $500 for a short whitepaper and $5,000 or more for a longer one that requires interviews or other background information.
  • Research article. A writer who is new to freelancing and doesn't have many reviews could charge less for the first couple of articles. The low end for a 1000-word research article is around $75, while an experienced writer may charge closer to $250 or more.
  • Blog article. Less technical articles are often quicker to write, so you may want to charge less. A 1000-word blog article averages around $50 at the lower end and $175 at the higher end.
  • Social media captions. As a social media content writer, charging a set price for posts, and letting clients pay per project, is common. The rate depends on how long the captions are and how much time you estimate it will take. The average price for social media captions range from $1 to $10 per post.
  • Email. Determining your freelance copywriting rate for an email depends on the length of the email and the type of copy. If you need to create a long newsletter with statistics, it will require more time than a graphic-heavy product email. A short email can cost anywhere from $25 to $50, while freelance writers often charge $150 to $500 and more for longer emails.

Determining how much to charge for a flat-rate project

Your rates will change from project to project, depending on the requirements and scope, but you can determine how much to charge by estimating how long it will take you to complete. If you know how many words or pages you can typically write in an hour, you can use this to quote projects depending on what you decide is a fair hourly rate based on your skills and experience, and the value you bring to your clients.

Depending on your process, you might consider adding the additional time it might take you to make edits, do additional research, and communicate with your client.

If your writing falls into a niche like medical, finance, or grant writing, you can check the respective association or trade websites. Many of these associations and trades have market averages for these types of services posted on their websites for members. This can help you figure out a fair rate for both you and your client.

By hour

Another popular way for clients to hire freelance writers is with an hourly contract. Hourly contracts are helpful when there are various writing tasks to complete. Instead of trying to figure out how much time each individual writing piece will take, you can simply track your hours spent writing overall.

On Upwork, you can use the Time Tracker in the desktop app to automatically track your time, or you can input it manually if the contract allows. The Time Tracker records activity like mouse clicks and keystrokes, and also takes random screenshots. It logs these into your Work Diary so your clients can see what you're working on.

Advantages of hourly freelance writing rates

  • Easier to price multiple projects
  • No "unpaid hours" or earning less due to underestimating how much time a project will take
  • Paid for editing, revisions, and changes
  • Feel less rushed to complete work
  • Clients pay for meetings or extra work
  • Typically preferred for corporate clients

Disadvantages of hourly freelance writing rates

  • As you learn to write for a client faster, you earn less
  • Does not include time spent submitting proposals or admin work
  • Hourly rate may sound high to clients even when you may earn the same when charging by project
  • Articles may take less time as you work with repeat clients
  • Manual time tracking can be a hassle

What is the average freelance hourly rate?

Technical writer: $20-$45

Social media writer: $25-$40

Content writer: $15-$40

Copywriter: $19-$45

SEO writer: $15-$35

Resume writer: $25-$65

Grant writer: $35-65

Blog writer: $15-35

How to calculate your hourly salary as a freelance writer

A writer's hourly rate depends on different factors, including experience, education, the project, and the category of writing it falls into. When researching the average hourly rate for a specific writing service like SEO or blog writing, the lower end is typically for someone who is less experienced, and the higher end would be someone who is considered an expert.

If you've been freelancing for a while, take some time to research what other independent professionals in your field, like you, are charging clients hourly. Use this as a baseline to see if you're charging above, below, or at market value. It may be time to raise your hourly rate if you've been working steadily at this rate for a good amount of time and have added to your portfolio.

Calculate your hourly rate by finding the average for the type of writing you do and then factor in your experience and education. Multiply this by the number of hours you ideally want to work in a week, and this is your weekly salary. You can then multiply this by four to get your approximate monthly salary.

By word

Charging by word is convenient for articles with a strict word count and estimating the price for batches of work. Many clients that need SEO or blog articles prefer paying by word. Charging by word can be helpful for pieces that may seem harder to quote, like websites, landing pages, or social media copy. Copywriters typically bill per word for sales and advertising materials.

Advantages of by-word freelance writing rates

  • High return for longer pieces that require minimal research
  • Experts or specialized writers can typically charge more
  • Quick and easy to give price quotes to clients
  • Clients may be intimidated by an hourly rate but feel more comfortable paying by word (even when the earnings are the same)

Disadvantages of by-word freelance writing rates

  • Have to factor in revisions and research
  • Can be difficult to predict an article's final length
  • Hitting a specific word count can be challenging
  • Lower ROI for shorter pieces that may require lots of time, like headlines or SMS copy

Average price per word for freelance writers

Beginner: $0.05-$0.10 per word

Intermediate: $0.30-$0.50 per word

Advanced: $1-$1.50 per word

How to calculate per word freelance writing rate

Start by deciding how much you would charge for a 1000-word article for each different type of writing you do. Your rate for a technical article will most likely be different than a creative blog. Next, divide each of those rates by 1000; that is your per-word rate for each category.

Example: You charge $100 for a 1000-word article

100/1000 = 0.10

If you charge $100 for a 1000-word article, your per-word rate is $0.10.

By page

Another way freelance writers charge is by page. Charging per page can be effective for website content, ebooks, novels, and essays. This may vary from client to client depending on the copy needed or the amount of research.

How much do freelance writers make per page?

  • Web content. A shorter web page may only need 250-500 words of sales-driven copy and take less than two hours with minimal research. Freelance writers typically charge $100-$200 per page for a shorter webpage. A highly technical and longer webpage may average closer to $500-$750 per page.
  • Ebooks. Marketing ebooks are popular for gaining leads, and many companies use these as gated content. Ebooks are longer pieces of content, typically between 2,500 to 5,000 words and 6 to 20 pages. The average cost per page is around $300 to $500.
  • Novel. Ghostwriters take an idea and outline for a book and bring it to life but do not get final credit for the publication. Each page in a novel is about 200 to 300 words, and a book can have anywhere from 75 to 300 or more pages. The average cost per page for fiction is $20 to $50 and $75 to $100 for nonfiction.

Advantages of by-page freelance writing rates

  • Simple way to set a freelance editor rate for longer pieces of content
  • Makes it easier to quote ghostwriting rates for books
  • Can earn more if you're a fast writer
  • Outcome-focused
  • No time tracking required
  • Clients can create a clear budget

Disadvantages of by-page freelance writing rates

  • Final page count may change based on formatting
  • Does not account for revisions or research
  • Not all content is created equal; it may be harder to estimate how long different pages will take you
  • Upfront cost may seem high to clients

How much to charge as a freelance writer per page?

Before giving a per-page quote for a client, you'll want to figure out how much actual copy there will be on each page. If it's an ebook, charts or graphics may take up space and reduce the amount of copy. You’ll also want to know how much research it will require. Once you see the project's scope, you can estimate the word count or your hourly rate to give a more accurate per-page estimate.

Retaining fee

Many businesses and freelance writers prefer to work on retaining fees. A retaining fee is a guaranteed recurring contract that's either hourly or project based. You could set up a contract for a certain number of blogs or hours you'll work for a client each week. On Upwork, clients can set up weekly payments for freelancers.

Retaining fees are great for working long-term with a client, especially if it's the same work needed each week and month. The client can schedule their content calendars and budgets in advance, and as a freelancer, you have a steady income and can plan out your workload. It's the closest freelance writing payment to being on salary for a company.

Advantages of retaining fees for freelance writing rates

  • Guaranteed income
  • Builds relationships with clients
  • Easier for clients to budget and plan out content
  • If charging by project or deliverables, you can start to make more hourly as you learn the client's voice and become more efficient
  • Works well for recurring work like social media, ads, email, newsletters, and blogs
  • Often gives more ownership over your projects

Disadvantages of retaining fees for freelance writing rates

  • May be harder to increase your rate
  • Clients may start to add more work but not increase the fee
  • Can be difficult to negotiate if you work under or over the agreed amount
  • Can leave an income gap if the contract suddenly closes
  • Clients may expect you to be always available for them

How much, on average, do freelance writers make on retainer?

  • Four blogs for $1000 per month (about $250 per week)
  • 30 social media posts for $500 per month (about $125 per week)
  • 15 emails for $1200 per month or (about $300 per week)

If you're working on an hourly retaining fee for a client, some freelancers give clients a slight discount, like reducing the rate by $5 per hour for guaranteed long-term work.

How to figure out your retaining fee?

There are two different types of retainer fees: hourly or project. Hourly contracts are easier to quote. You can charge your standard hourly rate or give a slightly lower rate. Typically, if you are on retainer for 10 hours but only work 8 hours, you still get paid for the full 10 hours.

When you work on a retaining fee by project, you're paid based on the deliverables, and it's up to you how long it takes. You may need to write a certain number of blog posts, email, ads, or social media posts per month. You would need to estimate how many hours it will take you and quote a fair price.

Some freelance writers charge by the value of their services, typically 10%. To do this, you would need to estimate the value of your service, whether it's a newsletter, blog post, or ad, and see how much potential income it has for the business (which can be difficult). If you have access to the analytics, you can see how well your ads, newsletters, and social media posts perform and convert to sales, then take 10 percent of that and use it as your fee. Be prepared to show the data to your client when explaining this rate, as it may initially sound higher than an hourly rate.

What to consider when setting your freelance writing rates?

When setting your freelance writing rates, you'll want to consider many different aspects, from your experience as a writer to the various types of writing you'll be doing. Start by researching what the average rates are for your writing category to help determine your base rate. Use those averages to build your own rate by adjusting higher or lower based on your experience, skill, reputation, and similar factors.

Avoid setting your rates too low and selling yourself short. You want to know the value of your work. Starting out charging a little less than you want to is normal to build a reputation, but as you gain experience, your rates may increase. Charging too much, however, can lead to losing out on projects.

Time it takes you to write

The fundamental consideration is how long it takes you to write different pieces of content, from a 500-word article to an Instagram caption. The actual time spent writing may be different than how long a piece of content takes you from start to finish once you add in communicating with the client, research, formatting, and revisions. As a freelancer, you have "non billable hours" for the time spent applying for jobs and talking with clients.

Experience level

Average writing service rates depend heavily on experience level, Job Success Score, and reviews on platforms like Upwork. If you're new to freelance writing, you may want to start your rates slightly lower than what you ideally want to earn and raise them as you complete jobs successfully. If you've worked with big-name companies, have excellent writing samples, or are highly specialized in your field, you can often justify charging more in your profile.

One-off or ongoing work

Building relationships with great clients is one of the keys to creating a steady workflow as a freelance writer. Many freelance writers charge more for one-off pieces and slightly less for ongoing work. If you have a predictable schedule that you can count on, you're spending more time working and earning and less time looking for new projects and clients. You may decide to charge $200 for a single blog article but only $750 for a package of four.

Type of writing

One of the main benefits of becoming a freelance writer is being able to work on projects that excite you. While you may have experience writing highly technical articles, if it’s not your passion, you may decide to charge more for that service and submit proposals for other types of writing that you enjoy more to build your portfolio.

A freelancer may decide to have different rates for content writing vs. copywriting. Something strategic like an ad or banner may have less copy but require just as much time as a short blog. There are also highly specialized services like grant writing or medical writing that have higher average rates.

Type of client

The type of client, and the involvement they expect, is a serious consideration in rate setting. A large company that frequently works with independent talent and provides detailed briefs might only need a quick conversation to get things started and a wrap-up after a project’s completion. A new business owner might need a bit more guidance, or expect to be more involved in the process. Some clients have a quicker review process and are relatively hands-off, while others need multiple revisions. If you have clients that you know are easy to work with, you may want to keep their rates lower to encourage more work.

Complexity

All projects are not created equal. An article for one company may need much more research than an article for another. Making sure you have a project brief and understand the copy requirements helps you know what to charge a client.

The amount of research and background work, like interviews or meetings, is essential when deciding your freelance rates. A heavily researched technical ebook will be complex and take more time and thought than a creative or opinion-based piece.

Deadline

Turnaround times and deadlines are other factors to consider when figuring out how much to charge as a freelance writer. Some companies and clients will expect you to complete the copy in a short time frame or have a rush project that requires a same-day turnaround, and you'll need to charge more to prioritize it over other projects. It's common for freelance writers to have a "rush fee" and charge a premium for quick turnarounds.

Start working as a freelance writer!

If you’re first embarking on your journey as a freelance writer and choosing to work as an independent professional, then you are reimagining what a traditional work week might look like. An endless number of doors is just waiting for you to open them. Knowing how to set your rates is an important early step—after that, Upwork helps make finding your first freelance writing job easy. Set your freelance writing rate and begin building your reputation so you can work on projects that excite you.

And if you’re already an accomplished writer, periodically checking that your rates are both competitive and fair to you is a sound best practice. With Upwork Freelancer Plus, you can ensure that when you bid for projects on Upwork, your rates are competitive.

Complete jobs successfully to gain credibility, build your portfolio, and add reviews to your profile. It all starts right here!

This article is intended for educational purposes. Rates were pulled from the Upwork platform, represent averages, and were current at the time of writing. The rates given are provided as potential options, and each reader should set rates that are commensurate with their skills and experience, and appropriate to the industry and project.

Heading

asdassdsad
Projects related to this article:
No items found.

Author Spotlight

How To Set Your Freelance Writing Rate
Cassie Moorhead
Content Writer

Cassie is a storyteller and content creator with over eight years of experience helping brands communicate to their customers through different channels. She enjoys finding new coffee shops to work from and spending time in nature with her dog, Sweeney.

Get This Article as a PDF

For easy printing, reading, and sharing.

Download PDF

Latest articles

X Icon
Hide