Unfortunately, freelance writing fees and freelance copywriter rates are not written in stone. In fact, they fluctuate greatly from one writer to another. There are many factors which influence how much a writer charges a client and how much a client is willing to pay a writer for his or her services.
The Market Determines the Rates
Though most self-employment professions allow the individual to set his or her own rates, freelance writing is the exception. Most self-employed individuals must factor in certain elements in order to determine how much they will charge for their services, such as the area where they work and the type of business they own. While these individuals are able to distinguish their specific rates and fees contingent upon their own decisions, this is not the case with freelance writing. The market usually determines the set fees that a freelance writer can receive for his or her services.
Most markets are infamously inflexible, so don't assume that you can effortlessly persuade a magazine which pays ten cents per word to offer you sixty cents per word. With that being said, don't let the fixed market rates discourage you, as this is not always the case. There are many methods to set your own preferred payment rates. Many individuals seeking freelance writers allow the writer to bid on how much they will charge for their specific services. Additionally, you can determine how much you will charge for your services, even if, as a gifted and indispensable writer, you cannot sweet talk parsimonious editors into meeting your most desired rate.
How to Charge
Many new freelancers come from a job where they were paid an hourly rate with a salary determined by how much they worked. While hourly rates can also apply to your freelance writing, many freelance writers prefer to set their fees by the word. In other words, charging ten or fifteen cents per word, for example.
Determining how much you should charge is entirely dependent upon your own individual situation. Many circumstances and factors should influence your decision. If you are freelancing full time, then you will have to generate much more income than if you already have a job and are only freelancing part time.
Also, the region of the world where you live and the cost of living must enter into your decision. For instance, many writers who reside in foreign countries like Mexico or Costa Rica can live very comfortably with much less money than those who live in Manhattan. How much you should charge is entirely up to you as a writer, and you must take into account all the specific factors of your individual situation.
Main Factors to Consider
Key components to consider when setting your freelance writing fees include:
- Your overhead
- Your experience
- Your geographic location
You must project what you expect your expenses to be before you can begin. Examining your fixed overhead expenses provides you with a number to work with. At the very least, you'll need to bring in this amount of money just to get off the ground, cover all your bills, and break even. Therefore, you will need to charge a rate that takes in more money than this number. You should divide this number by the number of billable hours you presume you'll put in every week and then come up with an hourly rate to charge.
Factors that must be incorporated in the overhead include:
- Monthly rent
- Office equipment
- Office supplies
- Postage costs
- Internet access
- Long distance phone calls
- Office furniture
- Publication subscriptions
- Association dues
Charge by Word or the Hour?
So, you've discovered how to become a freelance writer? Now it's time to answer the dreaded question of whether to charge by the word or by the hour. This is one specific that many new freelancers must endeavor to decide on their own. Just remember that if you decide to charge by the hour you must take into account the time you estimate it will take to write the assignment. For instance, if a magazine offers $200 per feature, and you charge $20 per hour, you must take into account that in order to meet your rate you will have to complete the article in less than ten hours. This does not mean only the writing, but you must be sure to calculate all other elements that the assignment will require, such as interviewing, research, and revision. Only you as the freelancer can determine how much your time is worth.
A Final Note on Freelance Writing Fees
Most freelancers charge between $20 and $100 per hour for their services, though there are many freelance writing specialties that can earn much more. The National Writer's Union recently published a list of average salaries for various types of writers that may provide some insight as you're determining what is an acceptable rate for your services. When beginning your writing career, you may discover that many editors and publishers do not want to offer much more than a few cents per word for a novice writer. This is because many writers are willing to work for and get paid these low wages. However, this does not mean you must sell yourself short. Though there are many terrible writers who will work for pennies, an exceptional freelance writer will eventually rise to a more appropriate compensation level.