Freelance Writer Rates: How Much Should You Charge?
If you’re searching Google for freelance writer rates, you’re probably wondering how much you might earn as a paid writer. As a freelance writer for the better part of a decade, I have a very good idea of how much you can and should earn in this field.
I’m here to show you what the going rates are for freelance writers, different ways to charge for your services, and how to set your rates. You’ll also get free access to the step-by-step strategies I use to earn $100+/hour as a freelance writer, and a bonus rate card template.
2021 Freelance Writer Rates
Let me start by giving you some of the latest stats on what freelance writers earn today, with a big caveat:
These freelance writer rates are not what you should expect to earn (for a whole host of reasons explained later in this post).
So without further ado, don’t cringe at these statistics:
Freelance writer salary reports from Indeed.com show an average earnings of $21/hour.
According to Payoneer’s Freelance Income Report, the mean hourly rate for content writers is $15/hour:
On average, it looks like writing is actually one of the lowest paying freelance niches out there. Those numbers really shocked me when I looked them up, especially since that’s nowhere near what I earn as a writer, or even what I earned when I first got started!
These rates are NOT the reality for most writers.
So before you give up on writing as a freelance career path, let me explain why you shouldn’t expect to earn such low rates as a freelance writer:
Native English speakers are worth good money
Probably the biggest reason average hourly pay is so low is because there are many English as a Second Language speakers who work as freelance writers for as little as $3-$5/hour. (They often live in countries where that’s a good living wage.) This demographic can make pay for freelance writers seem low overall, but that’s not the case for native English speakers. People and businesses will pay good money to have content created by someone with perfect English.
Most freelance writers are beginners
Another important thing to remember is that most freelance writers are beginners. In any given year, the majority of people working on sites like Upwork or Freelancer.com are new freelancers and aren’t charging high rates as a result. Most freelance writers undervalue themselves in the beginning (I was also guilty of this once upon a time). Those who stick with it learn their worth and raise their rates.
I might know what you’re thinking:
I’m a beginner, so that means I have to earn low pay until I get more experience?
And the answer is no! You already have plenty of skills and experience that make you valuable, even if you’re new to freelance writing. You can earn great money from the beginning, if you recognize your own value and follow the right pricing strategies! More on that below.
Pay varies greatly by writing niche
Another important thing to remember is that while average pay rates for freelance writers might not be impressive, it varies a lot by writing niche. Take a look at these writers on Upwork that charge $100+/hour:
What do they all have in common? Not much, except that they’re all highly specialized in specific niches.
This woman specializes in recipe development:
Another freelancer specializes in Cybersecurity and IoT:
If your niche requires more specific knowledge to write about, you can demand higher pay from clients. For example, a client hiring writers for a beauty blog would pay less than someone hiring freelancers to write about technical aspects of cybersecurity, or writing for university publications.
How Much Should You Charge?
You’re probably wondering how much you should charge as a freelance writer. Set your rates too low and you’ll never earn good money. Set them too high and you’ll find it difficult to get clients, right?
Well, how much you should charge ultimately depends on how much you want to get paid. But you can get a ballpark idea by first taking a look at the rates other freelancers charge in your writing niche.
There’s a trick for this on Upwork. Instead of signing up as a freelancer, first sign up as a client looking to hire (you can do both on one account).
Go to search talent, and select the “writing” category. Type a keyword related to your freelance writing niche into the search bar (e.g. “cybersecurity”). Then you’ll see search results of writers in your niche and their rates:
You can filter these results to see highest and lowest pay. That will give you a good idea of what writers in this niche are asking for payment, and what their credentials are.
Don’t Forget to Charge What You Want
Regardless of the rates you see posted on freelancer profiles, the most important thing is to charge a rate that you’d be happy to earn! There’s nothing worse than a writer underpaying themselves simply because they don’t think they can earn more.
The rates you see on Upwork profiles are not the ceiling on what you can earn. Freelancers who market themselves from their own website can earn much more than these rates. One thing I’ve learned from experience is that you can earn however much you want as a freelance writer, if you market yourself to the right potential clients and package your services in the most valuable way. (More on that below!)
How to Set Freelance Writing Rates
An important thing to remember when setting your freelance writer rates is hourly isn’t the only way to be paid. Here are 3 ways to charge for your services as a freelance writer:
You can charge tens or hundreds of dollars an hour for your writing services. Say, for example, you’re hired at $80/hour to write a blog post that takes 4 hours. Your total payment would be $320. Most writers who work hourly use a time tracking tool to keep track of how much they need to invoice clients.
Lots of writers charge per word. For example, if your rate is 22 cents per word and you’re hired to write a 3,000-word article, you’d be paid $660. Before setting a per word rate, spend some time discovering how much time it takes you to write different types of content for a given word count, and use that to set your per word rate based on your desired hourly rate.
After getting all the details of what a client needs, you can charge a flat rate fee for each writing project. For example, you can charge $5,700 to write a 30,000-word ebook on social media. (Make sure you get half payment up front!)
Which pricing structure you should use depends on the type of work and your preferences. Most writers use a combination of these to price their services. Hourly is a good option when you’re not sure how much time a project will take, like with content editing. Per word and per project are good options to ensure you get the most value out of your time (more on that below).
Other Pricing Considerations
Besides your pricing structure, there are some other factors to consider when setting your rates.
Types of writing
You should definitely increase your rates based on the kind of writing you’re doing. Some types of writing take more time to complete, like writing a basic blog post vs a magazine story in a fancy New York publication. In this case the same 1,000-word article could take twice as long to complete, because it’s a higher level of writing. Your rate should reflect this. The same is true for writing that requires additional expertise.
Here’s an example of a copywriter rate sheet I once used that broke down my rates for different types of copywriting services:
You can always come up with your average freelance writing rates per word for blog posts and adjust them up or down in a similar way.
Type of client
While it’s good to have a set freelance writer rate card (I do myself), I also believe it’s important to set different rates for different clients to maximize your income. It is completely fine to provide the exact same service for multiple clients at a different price.
For example, I charge less for the same quality 500-word blog post I write for a small business blogger than I do for a big enterprise client. Wealthy clients have more money to pay me well and keep me happy as a freelancer, so I’ll continue writing blog posts for them for years to come.
Keep that in mind the next time you submit a freelance proposal to write articles for a Mom and Pop Shop vs a multinational company.
Types of projects
Another factor to consider when setting your rates is what kind of project it is. When running a freelance writing business, ongoing clients are one of your biggest assets. If a client wants to hire me to write 2,000 words for them every week, I actually offer a discount as incentive for the long-term commitment (with a contract of course!). Consistent work means I don’t have to go hunt for new clients anytime soon.
At the same time, if a client hires me to write a single 3,000 word article, I would charge a higher rate. It takes time to get to know a client’s needs, learn their preferred writing tone, and research their topic. If they’re not going to hire me for ongoing blog posts or articles, the one-off fee should be much higher.
The same logic goes with larger projects. If someone is hiring me to write a 40,000-word ebook, I could reduce my rate per word by as much as 20% from what I charge for articles. So, when setting your rate method, be sure to consider the value the client project has for you.
How I Earn $100+/Hour With My Freelance Writing Business
I worked many freelance writing jobs before I learned the strategies I needed to earn great money. The good news for you is you can learn from my mistakes to grow your income much faster than I did.
That’s a pretty exciting thought, since I earn several hundred dollars an hour with my freelance writing business. Here’s how I do it:
• I write in a very specialized niche
• I offer value-added service package
• I search for clients that can afford me
• I regularly raise my rates
That’s it! It’s really that simple and all my clients pay me hundreds of dollars an hour as a result. Each of those strategies helps me maximize my earnings from each client. Here’s how:
1. Becoming hyper-specialized in a specific writing niche means that whenever I pitch a new client, they know I’m the absolute best writer for the job. I can demand the price I want and if they can, they’ll pay it.
2. Offering packaged services at a fixed-price rate helps me maximize the value of my own time spent writing (as opposed to charging hourly). Including extra services that my clients need makes me more valuable for them also, so they’re happy to pay the bulk price.
3. I never waste my time hunting for writing jobs from clients who can’t pay me well or might ask for a discount. I only pitch potential clients with money, so they don’t push back when I ask them to pay me well.
4. People working regular jobs get raises every year, and freelance writers should too. My clients expect an annual rate increase from me. I also use strategies to sell them additional package services to earn more money from my clients year after year.
If you want to learn the exact strategies I use so you can apply them to your own freelance writing business, you’re in luck!
I created this free guide, which will teach you:
• How to pick a highly specialized, lucrative writing niche
• The exact method I use to find rich clients that can afford to pay me well
• How to package your services to maximize their value
• My strategy for earning more money from the same clients year after year
It also includes a freelance writer rate sheet template based on my own copywriter rate sheet. You can adapt it to reflect your own freelance writer rates!