As someone looking to hire a freelance writer, one of the first questions you may have is how much does it cost to hire a professional freelance writer? The odds are that the answer won’t be as straightforward as you would like.
How Much Freelance Writers Charge
Hiring a freelance writer for a writing project is not complicated once you’ve found a good freelance writer you want to work with. There can be a multitude of factors to a professional writing engagement. However, for most engagements, many of those factors do not come into play. One of the most complicated topics that remains is the issue of how much to pay a writer.
Most prospective clients ask how much I charge as a freelance writer. It is a fair question. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always have an easy answer.
It depends a great deal upon what the project is, but it also depends on who the client is, and how they will be working with me as their freelancer. At this point, many people make the incorrect assumption that this is a negotiation tactic and what I am really trying to do is get the highest rate possible. While I do want to get paid, the issue isn’t a matter of trying to get an extra $100 for a writing assignment.
Just like the client is attempting to gather all of the facts about whether or not to hire a freelance writer for a project, the writer is attempting to gather all of the facts about whether or not to work on the writing project.
The difficulty is that many of the factors that go into determining how much a writer charges for a certain kind of writing gig aren’t easily quantifiable or are too numerous to go into during an introductory conversation. Experienced freelancers can get “a feel” for how a client or writing gig will work based upon talking with the prospective client. From there, I can make assumptions that allow me to answer the question of how much I charge faster and easier, but assumptions are a lousy way to do business.
Why Freelance Writing Rates Vary
Most people understand that what a freelance writer charges varies from one writer to another writer. However, the rates a single freelance writer charges also can vary. The concept that is hardest for most people to grasp is that there is no flat hourly rate because as a small business owner, the rate must account for certain intangibles in addition to how many hours are worked.
For example, as a freelance writer, I work from my home office. Most people think that working from home just means that you can work in your pajamas. While that may be true, there is a lot more to it than that.
When I am working from home, I can switch from one project to another in minutes. I can make and take phone calls from multiple clients, prospective writing clients, colleagues, and other professionals at any time without worrying about confidentiality. I can work in 5 minute increments to move a project forward, or if necessary work at 2:00 AM when the words are flowing easily.
That flexibility is more than just nice and convenient, it is worth real money.
If I can do 25 minutes of research for Client A’s whitepaper, then participate in a 10 minute conference call for Client B, then write for 45 minutes on Client C’s software manual, and then take a 10 minute call from Client D about revisions they need as soon as possible, all before meeting a prospective client for lunch, that is a total of 90 productive, revenue producing minutes.
Contrast that with working for 90 minutes onsite for Client A. Those 90 minutes might be productive, but the 15 minutes driving to and from the site, are not. Furthermore, if I miss that call from Client D while on-site, I may have to spend an additional 10 minutes trying to get back in touch with them, may have to bump something else in order to work on the revisions, which means that then I have to re-adjust my week in order to meet the commitments to all my other clients.
The point is that if there are two identical writing contracts, one which requires 90 minutes once per week onsite, and the other requires no time onsite, the former will have a higher rate than the latter. If one requires detailed technology writing, while the other is conversational-style writing about broad topics, the latter will be cheaper.
Of course, this is not the only factor that goes into determining the rate. Here is a partial list of what factors determine how much I charge for a freelance writing job.
- Is any onsite work required?
- Are any regular meetings, phone calls, video broadcasts, or the like required?
- Will I need any additional resources or services to complete the assignment?
- Is there in-depth research involved?
- Do I need to interview people? By email? By phone? In person?
- What references or citations are required?
- What format must the writing be delivered in?
- How flexible is the schedule?
- Are there deadlines? How often?
- How will you communicate with me? How often? How quickly must I be able to respond?
- How will revisions be handled? On what schedule?
- How vague is the project?
- How much reporting is required?
- How often will I bill you?
- How long will it take to you to pay?
- How will work be submitted?
- Is this a defined project or an ongoing assignment?
This list is in no way comprehensive, but you can see why there is so much “it depends” in the answer to how much I charge for writing a software manual or for writing two blog posts per week.
To get the best answer about how much a freelance writer charges, provide as many details as you can about the project and how you envision it being carried out. Just a handful of details can narrow it down. Furthermore, understand that before you actually do any work with a freelance writer, always agree on both terms and payment. That way, it isn’t a moving target so much as zeroing in on a target.