If you’ve been researching freelance writing rates, you may be feeling confused about how much to charge. There are hundreds of articles, all suggesting a different approach to setting your rates.
In this article, I’m going to share one simple rule to help you confidently charge what you’re worth.
Trying to figure out your hourly rate doesn’t have to be a minefield. You just need to see things from the client’s perspective.
You see, clients don’t care how much you charge per hour. They care about results.
It’s like the plumber who unblocks your toilet in 10 minutes and charges you $120. You could see it as “$120 for 10 minutes work” or you could see it as “a free-flowing toilet that isn’t stinking up your home”.
Charge To Solve A Problem
To succeed as a freelance writer, you need to start thinking like the plumber. Charge clients to solve a problem. To deliver a solution. Not to kill hours on the clock.
As a freelance writer, you’re solving problems for your clients. Problems that are costing them hundreds or even thousands of dollars per month until they’re fixed.
- A website that isn’t getting any traffic from Google
- A book that isn’t getting any readers or reviews on Amazon
- A blog post that isn’t convincing people to subscribe to a newsletter
- A presentation that isn’t clearly communicating a new idea
- A brochure that isn’t getting any orders
- A tweet that isn’t getting any retweets
Get clear on what problem you are solving, and you can increase your freelance writing rates. You’ll also know how to market your services like a pro. More on that later.
Calculate Your Minimum Rate
OK, so you understand how valuable your writing services are to clients. Let’s talk about exactly what you should be charging them. There are two sides to the equation:
- How much you need to earn – this is your minimum rate.
- How much the market will pay – this is determined by the problem you solve.
First off, if you’re new to freelancing then I suggest you set a competitive rate and get some experience under your belt. You may not be able to replace your full-time income right away, but you will get some valuable experience and testimonials. I wrote about how to find you first paying clients here.
Once you have some writing samples and expertise in your space, you want to figure out a minimum rate. This is how much you need to earn to quit your day job.
Start by taking your monthly income in your nine-to-five. Then, consider how many hours a week you want to write. As a freelancer, you won’t be spending all your time writing. You also need to allow time to apply for jobs, update your freelance website or online profiles, network with other writers and potential clients, etc.
As a newbie, you may fill all your available hours looking for work. As you hone your skills and pick up some recurring clients, you’ll spend more time on client work and less time on other activities.
For example, if your monthly income in your full-time job is $4,000 and you expect to write 25 hours per week. You could back-calculate your minimum hourly rate to be $40. With this number, you’ll be in the ballpark of what you need to charge per hour to be financially comfortable. But please … keep reading.
Why I Don’t Recommend Hourly Freelance Writing Rates
In the example above, we established that you need to earn $40 per hour, 25 hours per week, to cover your living expenses.
But this doesn’t mean you should go out and start telling clients you work for $40 per hour.
Because here’s the thing — clients don’t want to pay hourly rates.
To clients, hourly rates are risky. They can’t tell how long it will take you to complete the work. They’re worried the budget will blow out. They’re paranoid that you’re not actually working all the hours you’ve quoted.
Instead, quote a fixed fee per project.
It’s better for the client, because there’s no surprises or runaway budgets.
And it’s better for you, the freelancer, because it encourages you to get the job done quickly, so you can move onto the next project.
For example, if your minimum hourly rate is $40, your freelance writing rates might look like this:
20-page eBook — 20 hours — $800
5 blog posts — 7 hours — $280
1hr webinar script — 12 hours — $480
Once you know how long it’s going to take you to complete specific projects, you can send quotes to clients on the spot based on your minimum wage.
But we haven’t finished yet. This calculation ignores the second part of the equation… how much the market will pay.
If you want to earn top dollar for your work, then there’s one more step to calculating your freelance writing rates.
How To Charge Maximum Rates
As you become more familiar with your niche, and the type of work you’re doing on a regular basis, you’re going to be able to write faster.
The faster you write, the less hours you work, and the more money you earn per hour. The client still gets what they want, at the price they’ve agreed.
So, if it takes four hours to complete a $1200 job, that’s awesome! You’re earning $300 per hour.
But this kind of thinking isn’t going to earn you the highest rates. You need to focus on your client and the problem you solve.
As you gain expertise, you’ll discover that not all clients are created equal. Some clients have much deeper pockets. Providing you deliver the goods, they are able and prepared to pay for your work.
Consider the difference between a mom blogger and a financial institution. The first may need your help but can only budget up to $100 per post. The latter might be prepared to pay as much as $1000 per article.
How do you find these high paying clients?
First, establish yourself as the go-to expert in a niche (or two). Then start targeting medium and large organizations in your space. Look for companies reporting significant revenue and with lots of project work. Often, these organizations look to freelancers to fill urgent positions or one-off projects.
Another lucrative source of work can be smaller companies who have received funding. Think about it, these companies are growing rapidly AND have cash to spend! They need help from freelancers like you to support their expansion plans. To find companies to pitch, use this website: vcaonline.com. Start by clicking the “News” menu item on the left then browse the recent press releases.
BONUS TIP: Always pitch your services in terms of the problem you solve for your client. Ask yourself – what’s the benefit to them? This is how you can market like a pro.
Freelance Writing Rates – A Quick Recap
The reason so many writers struggle with how much to charge is because they aren’t being strategic. Here’s a quick recap of the steps to calculate your rate (once you have completed your first few paying gigs)…
Start by calculating what you need to earn per hour. Then figure out what you can produce — to your highest standards — inside an hour. From here you can calculate your minimum rate per project.
Next, research your niche and determine which clients pay the most (for quality work). Revise your project fee upwards to consider your level of expertise.
And always remember – you’re not selling your time, you’re selling a solution.
If you’d like a step-by-step guide to starting a freelance writing business, check out Make Money As A Freelance Writer. Our book teaches you how to find a niche, land amazing clients, set up your business, and more. Click below to see it on Amazon.