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Freelance Writing Project Typical Time Frames

Estimate How Long Your Project Will Take

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In my article on finding your ideal writer salary and setting income goals, I mentioned that I don’t always charge by the hour. In fact, I prefer to name a total project price for my customers, and they seem to like this option, too. This helps them to budget accurately, and it avoids surprises.

But, in order to name an accurate per-project price, freelance writers must be able to estimate about how much time a project will actually take. In fact, I would hazard a guess that inaccurate time estimates are the number one downfall of beginning freelance writers.

So, since I am such a helpful writer-mentor, and because I want to see you succeed, I decided to put together this handy-dandy list of typical freelance projects, along with a time estimate.

The time estimate is a range; for new freelancers, or if this kind of project is new to you, go with the estimate on the higher end. If you’re somewhat experienced, or perhaps just very skilled at the noted project, go with the faster side of the range.

Another important aspect of this estimating is to consider the need for research. Sometimes a client has everything prepared for you, and ready to go (for example, in the case of writing an annual report for a non-profit). Other times, all research and digging is your responsibility (for example, in the case of writing an article for a consumer or trade magazine). For our examples, consider all research as “done.” These time ranges reflect solely the process of putting words on paper, editing them, and arranging them for your client. No interviews, no research and no back-and-forth with the client is included.

In addition, keep in mind that these are simply estimates. So many factors go into a project- things such as length, subject matter, and so on. As you progress in this career, you’ll be able to use past records to determine accurate lengths, and you’ll get pretty good at estimating for yourself.

For more info on estimating how long a piece will take to write, read this blog post and the helpful reader comments: "How Long Does it Take You To Write an Article?"

Annual Report: 6-12 hours

Blog post: 1.5-3 hours

Book proposal: 5-10 hours

Book review: 1-3 hours

Brochure: 2-6 hours

Business plan: 3-10 hours

Copy-advertising: 2-10 hours

Copy-catalog: 2-10 hours

Copy-email: 2-5 hours

Direct mail letter: 3-6 hours

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