Setting Freelance Writing Rates

Recently, I made a gutsy move and began freelance writing full time for the web.  It’s always been a goal of mine, and I found myself with the sudden opportunity to do so with the support of my husband, family, and friends.  However, the opportunity somewhat presented itself before I had the chance to fully prepare (long story).  Now, I know what the experienced, long-time freelance writers are saying:  “Silly girl, you can never really be prepared for entrepreneurship.”  I know.  But I REALLY wasn’t prepared.  I didn’t have a lot of research or data to tell me the first thing about starting a business.  The largest challenge I found myself facing (and a key element of the foundation of my business) was how to set my rates. 

I have subscribed to countless blogs, followed fellow writers on Twitter, Googled “setting freelance writing rates” until my fingers were numb, but the result was always the same.  Every article I read gave me the same general answer:  Setting your freelance rates is something only you can decide.  And that makes sense…I get it.  But I need a little guidance.  Of course, I did find several helpful blogs with general tips for setting rates. 

1.)   Research the competitors
2.)   Analyze your overhead costs
3.)   Set monthly earning goals
4.)   Set hourly rates, project rates, and word rates

The lists went on, and while all of these tips made complete sense to me, I was still having the issue of how much I should charge for my freelance writing services.  I researched competitors, but it seemed their rates spanned from one extreme to the other based on their experience, and it was hard to tell where I fit in on that scale.

For example, the people charging very small amounts could have been embellishing their experience a bit, so I wasn’t really sure I wanted to charge that little when I feel like I’m an experienced web copy writer myself.  And come to think of it, the writers charging large amounts were probably also embellishing a bit, so maybe they aren’t all that more experienced than I am.

As far as overhead costs, I really don’t have any.  Other than my new MacBook Pro (recently purchased because I dropped my beloved Mac PowerBook and broke the screen.  R.I.P. little Mac), the cost of my Internet, and the money spent on the coffee I tend to chug every morning, I really have very low operating costs. 

And when it comes to earning goals, one word comes to mind:  Really?  Ok, I’d love to earn $100,000 a year.  Ahhh, I see you, experienced freelance writers, rolling your eyes over the naiveté of the young web copy writer.  $100,000 isn’t likely, right?  Or is it?  I DON’T KNOW!

See what I mean?  This is just a brief look into the internal struggle that I was facing. 

Until today….

Today, while browsing Digg.com, I found a blog post that cleared everything up for me:  100 Terrific Productivity Tools for the Bored or Unemployed.  Though, I wouldn’t call myself unemployed or bored, I am easily amused, and this list is right up my alley (I have a weakness for lists).  On this list was the website, www.payscale.com, which allowed me to enter my experience, job title and skills, educational background, and city to determine how much I could make.

Now, this isn’t the first time I had the idea to use a salary calculator to determine my rates.  I tried one other, which shall remain nameless, but it did not give me the option of setting my employment type to “self-employed.”  By using this feature, I was able to find my hourly rate and yearly salary rate, which I can use to calculate my per word and project rate.  For instance, I know I can conquer a one page article, about  500, words, in one hour. 

Here’s a handy math equation:
Hourly Rate / # of Words = Rate per Word (TA DA)!!!

Because this hourly rate and word rate isn’t ridiculously high, I feel comfortable setting my rates at these numbers.  And therefore, my problem has been solved.  I’m a woman of analytics and I need data to back my decisions…and now I have it and I can comfortably set my rate at a price I feel is fair and consistent with my peers.  Yay!

Hope this helps!

Happy writing to all!

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1 comment so far

  1. Anne Wayman on

    Hey, thanks for the link. I’ve tried to figure out a range of hourly rates for the freelance writers who read my site and every time I think I’ve come up with something I find exceptions.

    So much depends on, well, you. Glad you found a starting point. Stick with it for awhile, track your expenses and be willing to adjust.


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