By Amber Roshay
The biggest challenge freelancers face is how to get paid what they're worth. Or even get paid to write. The writing marketplace is full of every range of writer from the newbie to the seasoned professional. So, how do you set your freelance writing rates as a newbie?
Some view freelance writing as a side hustle. Others love to write and see no other option for themselves.
Writers come from diverse backgrounds with various degrees and skill sets. But that’s just the “writer” side of things.
Businesses have different demands and views on what writing is and worth. Most of the time the client or company expects you to give them freelance rates per word or quote an hourly rate for freelance projects.
If you give them freelance rates for a blog post, will they come back with a different number or sweep your name aside? If you lowball yourself for freelance writing jobs, will you resent the work and complain about the client?
And what does a 500 word blog post cost? Content writing services? White paper? (heck, what's a white paper?)
So, begs the question, how to set your freelance writing rates as a newbie?
When you read well-known writing freelancers with portfolios the size of Godzilla, who are demanding $400 or more for a 500-word blog post, it becomes confusing. That’s about .80 cents a word. For other freelance copywriting jobs rates go up over a $1 per word.
Your writing portfolio is a text message. Would someone really pay you .80 cents a word? Some freelance writing sites like Pro Blogger are advertising 1.5 cents per word for a 500-word blog post. Freelance writing jobs online vary from source to source.
Create a Writer Website & Portfolio
For those looking to create a portfolio check out How to Create a Writer Website in Minutes. When you apply at freelance writing websites, having a writing website and portfolio will help you get freelance jobs.
Now, you do the math. How can we have these two extremes in the same marketplace?
What exactly is your freelance writing worth?
I’ve read many different posts on setting freelance writing rates for online jobs.
I also belong to a few different online writing groups where virtual fistfights have broken out over "rate shaming." If anyone mentions a rate is low for freelance writing jobs online, they will be pounced on.
Imagine a hungry kitty pouncing on catnip. Right now the people on both the extreme left and right have hijacked any level-headed conversation on everything from politics to, yes, freelance writing rates.
1| How Familiar Are You With the Freelance Writing Niche?
My writing partner Melissa (she's excellent, you should hire her), set her rate low as a newbie for topics she's familiar with writing. Now, this is the key—how familiar are you with the writing niche?
If you know floor wax like no-one else does, then taking a lower rate IS worth your time. You can whip out the article, even do some edits, and still walk away with a decent wage. Writing for money is easier.
But if you don't know the topic, then you'll have to take the time to research the ins and outs of floor wax, making your final earnings much lower, and the article writing harder.
Additional Writing Duties
Also, what else are they asking you to do? Find photos? Blast it on social media? Upload it into a CMS?
All of these requirements will take some of your time.
2| How Much Do You Want to Write About the Freelance Writing Topic?
Another caveat is whether you want to dive into the intricacies of floor wax because you want to “niche down’ into this area. If that’s the case then writing for two cents for some online writing jobs might be worth your time.
Sometimes the only way to dive into a new area of writing is to work for less money.
For ideas on mom blogging topics check out—
A Year's Worth of Topic Ideas for Your Mom Blog.
3| How Fast Do You Write As a Freelance Writer?
Yet still, if you know the topic but are a slower writer or not a fast typer, then this is a consideration as well. Proofreading jobs might not take you as long.
I've had experienced writers tell me they can whip out 1,500 words an hour with little to no edits and send it off. I'm sure this is true.
Some people can get in the zone and cruise into endless words on floor wax, but for others, this poses a challenge.
Writing is, after all, a process.
Even after many years of writing, it takes me about two hours for 500 words and about three for 1,000 words for an article that requires research.
And personal essays sometimes can take me longer because I want them to be perfect. I write, put it away, and then revise later. Good writing is about thinking and involvement.
4| How Many Edits Will You Have?
The next thing to think about is what will the revision process be like? Some clients (usually non-writers themselves) accept the work with a big thank you, and that's it. For me, I'll take a lower rate, if this is the case.
But if there are multiple edits, photos, phone conversations, and other expectations, then I want a higher blog post cost per word. And I think this is reasonable.
5| How Cool is the Freelance Writing Client?
Yet another consideration is the client. When you work with a professional who respects your writing and treats you humanely or you just gel with that person, then perhaps set a lower blog post cost.
Clients who treat you terribly, don’t pay you on time, or generally view you as chewing gum, well, then either ditch em or get paid more.
In a nutshell, when setting freelance rates as a newbie consider the following:
How well do you know the topic?
Do you want to break into this industry?
How fast of a writer are you?
How many edits?
How cool is the client?
Okay, now that we’ve ironed out some important facets for determining rates for freelance writing jobs, let’s put all of ingredients together. You can also check out How to Get Started as a Freelance Writer for more information.
You see an advertisement for a parenting blogger. It's perfect for you.
You have two toddlers swirling around your feet as you read this article. The ad says not only is it right for you, but there's the possibility of ongoing writing jobs from home. Send some clips and your rate ASAP. Uggg, a rate. Clips!
First, the parenting niche will have a lot of applicants on some freelance sites. Unfortunately, parenting writing jobs are the first to get snapped up. Overcoming rejections are part of the freelancers life!
But don't let that stop you. My first published article with a byline was a parenting article. I got paid $50 and walked on air.
Consider Different Kinds Writing Jobs
- Freelance Editor
- Freelance Content Writer
- Freelance Designer
- Freelance Translation Jobs
- Freelance Design Jobs
- Social Media Manager
- Freelance Marketing Jobs
Applying for Your First Freelance Writing Job
If you love writing about parenting, then find some article writing jobs. When you state your rate, consider all the above factors but also how much do you need the money? What are you truly willing to write for?
If freelance writing is a side hustle (you're a SAHM, have another job, or looking for your ideal client), ask for .10 cents or more per word.
Every Situation is Different
Or you really need work because you have diapers and rent. Then state a rate that works for that situation. Some writers will tell you never to undervalue yourself.
Perhaps, they have an extensive portfolio, a degree from a top university or have been really lucky and have never had to work for less than top dollar.
Perhaps, they never truly had to start as a freelance writing newbie.
Your goal as a new writer is to gain experience and build your portfolio. Check freelancing websites as much as possible to find the right writing jobs for you.
I'm not suggesting you undervalue yourself or bring down the freelancing industry. The facts are that companies know they can pay lower wages because people are taking less.
Writing Marketplace Reality
Writers are taking less because they have to or because this is the reality of the marketplace right now. But this is changing. Freelance sites will have to pay writers what they're worth.
Quality writing will become valued again. When this does happen, or your portfolio becomes a fat Thanksgiving turkey you can demand $80 bucks an hour or more.
In the meantime, what is your worth and what considerations do you have to earn a freelance writing wage that’s right for you.
Are you worried that your writing isn’t very good? Are you stuck in a writing rut? Our book Write Compelling Content is full of writing exercises that will help elevate your prose!
Co-Founder Pen and Parent
Amber Roshay is an instructor, freelance writer, and curriculum developer who founded Pen and Parent with her college best friend. She's written two novels and co-wrote How to Make a Living as a Writer. When she's not chasing after kiddos and indulging in baby snacks, you can find her writing with a cup of coffee in hand. Join her on Pinterest.