Learn How to Calculate Freelance Writer Rates in a Simple Way

Setting rates is one of the biggest challenges that freelancer writers come across. However, learning how to set freelance writer rates is one of the most important parts of beginning a successful freelance writing career.

Learn How to Calculate Freelance Writer Rates in a Simple Way

Freelancing is an attractive career path for many individuals who want to avoid working in a traditional office job but have the types of skills that suit those positions. 

Designers, consultants, and writers are all examples of the types of freelancing jobs that people are choosing over working for a single company. There are many benefits that come with freelancing, like being your own boss and setting your own schedule. 

However, that also means you are responsible for things like finding clients and setting your freelance writer rates. 

Setting rates can be overwhelming for writers, who are uncertain of how much to charge clients. 

You want to make sure you are charging a rate that is fair to both you and the client. This is easier said than done. 

Thankfully, this article will help you learn about different types of rates, average rates, and tips on how to calculate the perfect rate for you.

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    Types of Freelance Writer Rates

    Before you can start thinking about what you want to set as your freelance writer rates, you first need to select what type of format you want to use for charging clients. 

    There are different options and approaches you can take to charge your clients, and picking which one will work best for you is the starting point in creating a system that will work for you.

    1. By the Project (Flat Rate)

    Charging by the project, otherwise known as a flat rate, is a method of charging clients where you set a rate for every individual project you get. 

    This can be helpful when a client has a project that is complicated and will take a lot of mental work to complete, but does not have a high word count and won’t take you very long to complete. 

    When you charge a flat rate, you know exactly what you will earn and the client knows exactly how much you will be charging, so they aren’t surprised by a big bill at the end of the month that they didn’t see coming. 

    However, flat rates can be difficult to calculate, especially if the project takes a lot longer to complete than you thought. You could end up losing money that way.

    2. By the Hour

    Charging by the hour is a common way of charging clients and setting freelance writer rates. 

    Hourly rates are understood by everyone, and it’s a simple system to track and calculate. You set a price for every hour you work, track your time, and then send your client an invoice for the number of hours you worked. 

    There are also downsides to charging by the hour.

    A high hourly rate might seem overwhelming to potential clients, even if it is reasonable for the number of hours you will work per pay period. 

    In addition, you can actually lose money as you become better (and quicker) at your writing.

    3. By the Word

    Another way to set your rates is by the word. 

    You set a price per word that you write, and then the client or you will set a word range for you to hit. This is another system of charging clients that is simple to do and easy to calculate. 

    It can also help ensure you are paid for all of your words, as you know that each word you write has a monetary value, so if you exceed a word count or a client asks for more work, you will still get paid. 

    Charging by the word might not be the best course, however, if you write short projects like social media posts. 

    It also can take more time to write shorter pieces, meaning that you don’t get paid much for your efforts. 

    Charging by the word also commoditizes your work, where clients are paying for words, not for your expertise and other values.

    4. By the Client (Retainer Rate)

    One final way you can charge your clients is to charge each client a recurring retainer rate. 

    A monthly (or yearly) retainer is a set recurring rate that is determined for each individual client. For the rate, you can do any number of projects or work. 

    There are typically boundaries set as to the scope of what your work will be, but the rate remains consistent. 

    This type of rate works well for clients that have regular ongoing work that they want you to complete for them. 

    It also works well for when you have a large number of projects or work that is hard to charge by the word or hour, like brainstorming or idea pitching. 

    But it isn’t the right approach for clients who just have one-off projects or sporadic work.

    What’s the Average Rate for Writing?

    Labor statistics indicate that most writers earn about $69,500 every year. Broken down, that translates to about $1,440 every week. 

    When you break that down into the different categories of freelance writer rates we discussed above, that means that the average rates for writing are around $.15 – $.50 per word, or $33 per hour. 

    However, even if these are the statistical averages, it’s important to remember that there are wide disparages between different writers. 

    The type of writing you do can have a big impact on the average rates, with some types of freelance writers, like technical writers, making much more than other types of writers. 

    Another major difference to consider is the amount of experience you have. Beginners tend to charge much less, like $.08 per word or $20 per hour. 

    Those with many years of experience, on the other hand, can charge upwards of $1.00 per word and $100 per hour. 

    It all depends on how long you have been freelancing, what industries you are working in, and the types of relationships you have built with your clients.

    How to Calculate Your Ideal Rate

    Every freelance writer will have different rates and calculations for reaching those rates. 

    As you work on putting together your freelance writer rates, here are some different factors that you can consider and tips on how to go about finding the perfect rate for your business.

    1. Type of Writing

    The types of writing you offer can impact your rates. If you are a technical writer who works with complicated topics, you will likely be able to charge more than if you do social media or traditional blog writing.

    2. Services Offered

    Another factor is the types of services you offer. If you can do brainstorming, editing, proofreading, pitching, and strategy planning for clients, you can charge more for these types of services than just for your writing.

    3. Experience Level

    The more experience and years of practice you have, the more you can charge for your services. Beginners will likely need to build up their portfolio and client list before they can charge top rates.

    4. Complexity of Subject

    The more complex the subjects you approach are, the more you can charge clients. Different industries like healthcare, manufacturing, and technology tend to have more complicated topics that need to be addressed, and will pay more for your services.

    5. Time Spent Working

    Even if you aren’t charging by the hour, the time it takes to complete a project should be included in your rate calculations. If you charge a flat rate or a retainer, you still need to know how long it takes to complete a project so that you know you aren’t going to lose money by taking more hours than you planned to complete the work.

    6. Work Backwards

    Another way to calculate rates is to start backwards. Think about how much you want to earn every year, and how many hours you want to work each week. You can then divide that up to figure out how much you need to charge per word or per hour to meet your goals.

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    Wrap Up

    Working as a freelancer has many different benefits. 

    Freelancers get to choose their clients and their roles, and are their own bosses. But learning how to set freelance writer rates can be overwhelming, especially for those just beginning in a freelance career. 

    Thankfully, with the help of tips like these and confidence in your skills, you’ll be able to calculate the perfect freelance writer rates for your freelancing business.

    Another area where new freelancers struggle is finding the clients they need to support their business. While it can become easier over time, it helps to have a place to start. 

    If you are looking for inspiration on where to find freelancing jobs, then check out our blog on the best freelance websites

    There you’ll learn where you can go to start finding freelance jobs and get your freelance career started on the right path.


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