All freelance writers have faced this dilemma at least once in their career. We literally have no idea how to price our talent.
By the words? By the hours? By the piece?
We are gonna crack this nut and understand how this works.
I am no one to decide what price you can put on your work. So this post is not an ‘Oh, you could charge $$.’
Instead, I’ll tell you how most freelance writers do it, and you can figure out the rest for yourself.
Welcome to adulting, right? (I know!)
There are factors you consider when you want to price something. If this were a book you were selling, you would consider your efforts, the value you are providing, the market prices of similar products as yours, etc.
Charging for freelance writing is no different.
Are you the new guy in the neighborhood?
Have you seen trends shape up and dissolve?
Can you predict happenings before they occur in your industry?
These are the levels of experience available for you to choose from.
First things first, (oh no, here it comes again), pick a niche. Or two. Or three. But stick to them.
Experience is only understandable when you have been in an industry for long. And that’s how you grow as a freelancer.
Don’t tell them I have experience in writing. That sounds too generic. Tell mental I have experience in technical writing, or B2B marketing writing, or Tech ebooks writing, and so on.
As you narrow down and pick and choose your clients, you get the hang of what drives your industry, and you speak the language of your clients.
Then, you also write their language. (which they love- if it wasn’t too clear)
At this point, you have a strong base of clients who love you and would not drop you for someone else. Just some of the perks of niche-ing down.
Because they don’t have a reason to.
So, charge according to your experience in your industry. Or…
Grammarly told me to replace ‘Expertise’ because apparently, I have used it enough.
When you don’t have the experience, but the expertise, you are in a good place.
Freelance writing career does not necessarily need you to have writing experience. We all begin somewhere.
But our expertise is what we base our charges on when we start out. I was already a B.E. in Computer Science and had worked in IT corporate for a year when I started out.
No experience, but some expertise. And I was able to charge way more than what freelance writers do when they have just arrived.
I use feedback to decide when I can ramp up my writing charges. Experience and expertise are two things all in your head.
But, feedback is what your clients say. Or do. After a couple of months into full-time freelancing, I started to notice my clients were satisfied with my work and I had established my presence in their business.
I have a habit of garnering regular feedback from clients. I would ask them about the latest piece I delivered.
Now it is one thing when they praise you when you ask for feedback and a whole other level for appreciation when they want to hire you full-time.
This is how you know you are doing a good job, and you can demand higher rates without running the risk of losing clients.
They appreciate you for your work.
They give you recommendations.
They refer you business.
They increase your projects and rope you into multiple assignments at a time.
When this happens, know that you can deservingly ask for more, especially if you started out with anything less than the current rates in your industry.
If you at this point are all- “Oh but how do I ask them to increase my rates”, don’t do that if your existing clients are not ready to accommodate it. But, when a new lead comes in, charge them your next better price.
And, after a while when it is the right time for you to ask better rates from your present clients, just tell them you already have ramped up your prices with other clients. (Because in theory, you have!)
Current market trends
It is critical for you to be in touch with some other freelance writers in your industry. When you know the payment trends in your niche, you can figure out your rates.
Remember, don’t compare your services with the freelance writers who charge 20 paise per word.
Look at the brighter end of the spectrum- at the freelancers who are living a financially independent lifestyle from what they solely earn from freelancer writing.
Ask what they charge and learn about their experience and expertise levels.
Have a question? I am happy to help. (Reach out me on LinkedIn)
You will then be in a position to put all these pieces together and figure out what to charge.
Now, I have not mentioned any numbers in this post, because I can’t.
Freelance writers work in varied fields and niches, and I just can’t bring myself to limit your possibility.
There’s work that pays 5000/- a blog post, and there’s also work that pays 500/- a blog post.
You decide which one is yours to take.
But, I believe, here in India, anything less than 1 rs per word, for respectable work that needs flexing of mental muscles, is unacceptable.
Now it is an entirely different conversation if you are an agency or you only work with repetitive work that looks like the same.
Again, your call.
Freelance writers often get confused about this. What should they count when deciding on their charges.
I go by the principle of time. Because, not being philosophical- time is all we have. If we as freelance content writers maximize our pay per hour- we earn better.
Clients in India prefer per word rates. But, here’s something. I have stopped charging by the words because clients have all sorts of changes to make once the piece is done.
At times, these changes decrease the word count. Now, while I worked twice on the same piece, my pay got reduced because it was based on the word count.
This is far from being fair. Especially when I adhered to the word limit the client provided along with the requirement.
I now convert the per-word pricing into a fixed rate per piece. Or, if the word count varies for the client’s requirements, I give them slabs of pricing.
Upto 500 words, one price. Upto 700 words, a second price, and so on.
Also, I include the rework fee in these slabs. You got to get paid for reworks that were not initially conveyed to you.
Clients in the US, on the other hand, want you to maintain a timesheet. And, charge by the hour. Now, this is about how efficient you want to project yourself to be. Count in the time needed to proofread, edit, and reword the article when need be.
As a rule of thumb, I am sure of my charges per hour. So, I convert them when I quote by word-count, by the time, or per piece. I charge $20 per hour, and I can write 500 words in one hour, for instance. That would make my per-word price $0.04.
That’s how you maintain equilibrium in your pricing. You earn what you deserve and want- irrespective of the pricing model.
Do you follow a system to charge clients?
I’d love to know in the comments below!
Happy Freelancing! 🙂