Freelance Writing
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Freelance Writing

Opinion: $300 Really Isn’t A High Rate For Freelance Writing Services

$300 per blog. Is it really the best we can aim for? Photo: Pix4Free.Org

As anybody who has participated in one will know, one of the staple fixtures for discussion on freelance writing fora is rates.

How much to charge? How to charge? How many revisions to allow in the price? (If you want the pros and cons to answer point two, then check out my post below).

As the above makes clear for anybody who has read it, I generally don’t advocate pricing writing on a per-word basis. While it’s useful if you’re a very quick writer, it also discourages brevity.

Secondly, it only takes account of the writing itself. As you accrue experience as a writer and begin working on more challenging projects, background research and interviews become more time-consuming and significant parts of the writing process.

The methodology I have come to prefer after writing professionally for the past five is to first put together a time estimate for a project (how many hours will this take to write?); secondly to control for scope (“you get one round of revisions” — this ensures that the time estimate is realistic); and finally to multiply that time estimate by my target hourly rate.

Trumpeting Basic Rates Has Bizarrely Become A Thing In The Writing Community

Having followed aspiring writers on Medium and elsewhere for some time now, I have begun to notice a trend that somewhat puzzles me:

Writers sharing how they managed to reach the lofty position of being able to charge clients $300 (or similar) for a blog post.

Here’s a recent example, from The Writing Cooperative, of a writer who tries to explain “The Difference Between A $50 Article Writer And A $250 Article Writer.” The implication that runs throughout the piece, at least in my view, is that the latter figure is one that professional writers should be aiming for. With this idea, I take exception.

The piece contains this passage which — to my mind — nicely describes the kind of thing I’m talking about here.

“So, here is what I did to take my writing business from $50/article to $250/article and what you can do too:”

Newsflash: if you have experience and a portfolio to back it up with you can do a lot better than charging $250 per article.

There are clients who will pay $500 for well-written pieces on complicated subjects. And even, in rare parts, those who will shell out $1,000 for them.

So call my a cynic —and yes, by the way, I totally am one — but I personally want to set my sights a lot higher than charging $250 for articles.

Recently, I sent in my first white paper charged at more than $1 a word.

I was on the fence about sharing that with a writing group. But given that so many writers are creating the notion that $300 is the vaunted rate to aim for, I chose to do so.

So let me give you another little piece of my mind even if my doing so will strike some fellow writers as haughty and unrealistic:

If you live in the developed world, in a country with a reasonably high cost of living, then at some point you’re going to have to start charging a lot more than $300 for deliverables in order to make this your full time living.

Sure, you could go down the outsourcing / work like a maniac approach. But personally I think that looking up — rather than down — is a better objective.

Some mathematics:

Assuming an only marginally high hourly rate of $100/hour — nowhere near as high as it might sound — that $300 blog post only covers three hours of … everything. Briefing, researching, writing, and editing. At $50/hour you’ve got six hours to play around with. Decent. But still by no means luxurious.

Every freelance writer has their own cost of living as well as their own target income.

Despite how this may have come across to some, I didn’t come here to rate-shame those that are earning smaller per-project sums.

I’m simply advocating the viewpoint that (perhaps contrarian) that, if we’re going to share a sample rate as one that we feel should be universally inspiring among writers, we can shift our horizon a good deal northward from $300.

Why did I bother even sharing this?

Because the expectations for what decent rates look like that we set among ourselves ultimately end up percolating down to clients. And then we all face a market that regards $300 as a “high rate” for writing.

For freelance writers working from developed world countries, I believe $300 is a better representation of a credible baseline rate at which a simple project is unlikely to be grossly exploitative. It’s not a rate we should hold out as an aspiration.

We can do better. We can charge professionally viable rates.

And, for the good of freelance writing generally, we should encourage one another to do so.

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Daniel Rosehill

Daniel Rosehill

Daytime: writing for other people. Nighttime: writing for me. Or the other way round. Enjoys: Linux, tech, beer, random things. https://www.danielrosehill.com