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How Much Should I Charge?


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Question: How Much Should I Charge?

After being asked about writer's rates three times in one day, I knew it was time to share my process with readers. Here's how I went about setting my rates.


First Things First: By the Hour or By the Project?

Freelance biz-tech writers can either charge by the hour or by the project. I recently read that one fallacy of charging by the hour is that you essentially cheat yourself out of money if you really get the hang of a project, or find sudden inspiration, and cut your time significantly. I think this is an excellent point, but with two caveats: many customers like to go by hourly rates, and you should know your minimal hourly rate, anyway. Knowing this will help you set your per project rate.

Dig Out Hourly Information From Past Employers

What worked for me, having been employed as an editor and marketing writer in a past life, was to use my hourly rate as a jumping off point. Now, the fact is, your employed hourly rate is generally a very small fraction of your true earnings. Therefore, it would be ideal if one had access to their employer's total compensation numbers. You may be able to get such a thing from a former HR department. This "true compensation" number will take into account benefits such as retirement matching and insurance premiums paid.

Another thing to keep in mind is that your employer provides the roof over your head, your computer system, and all your office supplies. These are things that a freelancer must provide for themselves. Therefore, let me reiterate that your former hourly wage should most likely be your minimum as a freelancer. An exception is if you were an engineer, or some other such highly paid profession, who is starting over with no writing experience under your belt. You may not want to demand $100 an hour for your first writing job!

Use Your Hourly Research

Once you've come up with an estimate on your hourly rate, you can parlay that into a per project fee scale.

You'll want to think about the kinds of projects you'll be asked to take on, and estimate how many hours it will take from start to finish. For example, I can generally write a press release in about an hour and a half, depending on the industry. What kinds of writing will you be churning out? Web articles? Newsletters? Website content? Estimate your hourly undertaking, and adjust it as you go along!

Speaking of Adjustments…

You'll need to continue to adjust your fees, especially as you build more clips and credits. I'd suggest revamping your rates every 3-6 months.

Freelance Writing Rates List For Those Starting From Scratch

If you have no past employment, or simply cannot get a hold of such numbers, you'll have to start from scratch. I've compiled this list of freelance writing rates and charges over the past 6 years of my freelancing career. It shows a wide range of costs in a per project, per hour or per page format. Beginning writers will, of course, start at the bottom of the range, while the rest of you can work your way up.

In addition, you'll want to make sure you understand how pricing works in the freelance writing world. There are many different kinds of freelance writing rates, including per hour and per project. Read this article of types of freelance writing rates to get started.

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