Why your freelance writing rates should be fluid.

by Tara Fitness

Are you a freelance writer who’s paid by the word?

If so, you should stop accepting per-word payments for both your sake and ours.


Let’s say two clients need a 1000 word blog post.

The first person requests ‘a post for their blog’. No directions, not even a subject line. They simply say they like the sample work and request something similar.

The second person provides a 2-page brief detailing the requirements of the blog post, including a working title, context, audience, objective, core message, tone and style, SEO keywords, post outline and links to 2-3 similar posts.

Which post would you prefer to write?

If you said the first, you’re a glutton for punishment.

You have to:

• generate an idea,
• research the client’s blog for the target audience, tone, style and core message,
• choose SEO keywords,
• then outline, draft, edit and publish the post.

For the second person, the top three points on that list have already been mapped out for you. Not only should the second post take you less time to complete, you’re also far more likely to meet the client’s expectations because they know exactly what they want and they’ve communicated it with you.

This is especially relevant if you’re…

Freelance writing rates
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This is especially relevant if you’re a one-man-band with a dream of freelancing your way to a better future. So many freelancers charge too little, putting themselves into the cycle of working more hours for more stress, but still not making ends meet. Once you’re in this loop, the stress affects your writing. Once your writing quality declines, client’s don’t return. If you’re always chasing clients, you’re spending hours working for nothing when you should be writing about something that puts cash in your bank.

Last week I read a post from a freelance writer who writes up to 6 articles an hour. Do the maths, that’s 10 minutes for a blog post. Even if he works just 5 hours per day, that’s 30 articles per day he’s adding to the internet.

In contrast, I’ve spent 30 minutes drafting this post,  not including the 5-10 minutes I spent jotting down the idea whenever it popped into my mind. Following this, I’ll let it sit overnight, edit it tomorrow, then publish on Wednesday. All up, I spend between 60 and 90 minutes on each blog post.

Perhaps you enjoy smashing out 100 posts a week. If that’s the case, completely ignore what I’ve said throughout this post. But if you’d prefer to write 5-10 quality articles per week, and earn a decent living while you’re at it, follow the steps below to calculate your freelance writing rates.

How to calculate your freelance writing rates.

1. Identify your ideal income.

Do this by tallying up all of your expenses, ensuring you add a little on top for fun things like holidays or dinner out. If you have other income, subtract this from your idea income figure.

2. Identify your hourly rate.

Count how many hours per week you can dedicate to client work.  Ensure you book time for non-earning hours such as financial recording. Divide the income figure from step one by the number of hours you have available to complete client work.

Ideal Income / Hours for Client Work = Hourly Rate

3. Estimate the hours.

For each new project, estimate the number of hours it will take to complete the job. Add 25% for a little breathing room as per Hofstadter’s Law.

Hofstadter’s Law suggests every task always takes longer than you estimated, even when you took Hofstadter’s Law into account during your estimate.

4. Identify incidentals and adjust the rate accordingly.

If you’re asked to complete any other tasks not relevant to writing, even if they’ll take you 5-minutes, add a set fee.

Find 1-3 stock images for the post?

Add a set fee (which is more than the time it would take to complete the task).

Upload the post to the client’s blog?

Add a set fee (which is more than the time it would take to complete the task).

Just because you can do something; just because you know how doesn’t mean you should be doing it. Are you a freelance writer or a virtual assistant who can write?

5. Once you’re hired, over-deliver.

I know I just said ‘charge more for extras’. To clarify, I mean charge more for extras that aren’t relevant to freelance writing.

When over-delivering, do so with extras that will make the blog post perform better for the client, thus helping both of you in the long run.

For example, try adding 3-5 tweet-length summaries to which the client can use to promote the post.

Over-delivering shows the client you are worth the money you’re asking. More importantly, it’s another tidbit of logic you can list when you’re self-confidence is having a wobbly moment, and you’re questioning if your rates are too high.

Tip: You have every right to make a living, so make sure your freelance writing rates enable you to do so.


I’m not saying be an arse… I’m saying charge what you’re worth.

If we all do it, we do three things.

• Increase the collective rate for freelance writing.
• Improve the quality of content on the internet.
• Support our clients to get a higher return on their investment.

And we look after ourselves while we’re at it.

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