How to set freelance writing rates

Written by mimi abney
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How to set freelance writing rates
Depending on the job, you'll need to charge either per hour, per word or per project. (Getty Images)

The single most important question freelance writers ask is, “What do I charge my clients?” Setting your freelance rates is not an exact science. It often takes experienced freelancer writers several months or even years to decide the best method of quoting prices.

You can successfully create a profitable revenue model for your freelance writing business. Here’s how to set your rates without underpricing or downgrading your services.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Research what to charge. No professional writer begins a new assignment without research. Determining your freelance writing rates requires the same information gathering required to write an essay or a 400-word Internet article. Visit websites that serve freelance writers to view discussions of rates, prices and changes in the marketplace. (See Resources.)

  2. 2

    Analyse the marketplace. Freelance writing rates can vary. Web content writers charge by the word. Bloggers often set their prices by the post and a split of ad revenue. Freelance magazine writers charge by the word. Copywriters set their rates by the hour or the project. Based upon the type of writing and where your work is published, expect to see a strong variation in freelance pricing models.

  3. 3

    Determine an hourly freelance rate and a project rate. Some clients prefer an hourly rate for editing and proofreading jobs. Others are more comfortable with a project rate for press release and copywriting.

    To determine the best hourly rate for your freelance writing, take your projected yearly salary and divide this number by 2,080, which is the number of available working hours in a year. Add an extra 15 percent adjustment to your hourly rate for rewrites, scope creep and unforeseen aggravation.

  4. 4

    Set a minimum rate for all projects. Every writer should have a minimum price for her freelance services. Consider your overhead and costs when calculating your minimum freelance writing rate. Never go below your bottom-line price without considering the effect on your profit margin or reputation.

  5. 5

    Create a rate sheet. Make a list of all of your freelance writing services. Compile all of the data you used to determine your hourly rates and project rates. Use this information to create freelance rates for clients who are looking to pay writers by the word or by the hour. If you are consulting new clients, use the rate sheet to determine a fair price for your freelance writing services.

Tips and warnings

  • The type of publication (whether it is online or offline, national or local) can cause your freelance writing rates to vary greatly.
  • Online content providers have to compete with novice writers who often accept rates that are lower than industry standards.

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