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4 Truths about Freelance Writing Rates from a Freelancer with Almost 20 Years of Experience

Recently, I was having a conversation with another freelance writer. She dibbles and dabbles in taking on projects between writing, publishing and promoting her own ebooks. She’s been doing this for the last three years or so.

Desperate for some immediate income, she lowered her freelance writing rates in order to land clients quickly. She decided to charge $10 for 250-300 word blog posts. Within a week, she did get two freelance writing gigs.

The Freelance Writing Rate Debate: Will It Ever End?

Now, while I’ve always advised freelancer writers to charge what works for them, I advised her against charging this little because it just wasn’t worth it. Pretty soon, she found out that it wasn’t. How/why?

For example, one of her new clients had a lot of back and forth (like four or five emails) before he even gave her an order. So by the time she landed that first project from him, she already felt that she’d “lost” money. And when he did order, he only ordered one blog post – a whopping $10 order.

The other client hired her to rewrite articles. Remember, she was charging $10 for 250 to 300 word blog posts. But, she had to read through articles that sometimes ran over 1,000 words in order to write her 250-300 word post.

She said it took her well over an hour to read through the material the client forwarded and write the posts — for $10. Woohoo – she’s really bringing home the dough!

She quickly realized the error of her ways and raised her rates – to $25 – $35 per post.

Never Forget This When Setting Your Freelance Writing Rates

As I listened to her war stories, several things came to mind which prompted this post. Also, the slow editorial season is arriving and many freelancer writers may feel a little panicked and more tempted to take on what I call “slave wage” writing gigs.

Don’t!

With all of this being said, following are four things about freelance writing rates to keep in mind. These come with a healthy dose of first-hand experience (I started working in publishing in 1987 and have been freelancing since 1993).

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1. Lower Freelance Writing Rates Does Not Equal More Work

You will almost always regret charging bottom-of-the-barrel rates. While you may land clients quicker, they will most often be the kind you don’t want.

Furthermore, you have to do almost the same amount of marketing to attract these clients. If you’re going to spend two or three or four hours per day marketing (or whatever your marketing schedule is), wouldn’t you rather be doing it to land writing jobs that are going to pay you a decent wage?

So set a minimum freelance writing rate you will not go below – and stick to it. It is almost never worth it to violate this rule.

2. Lower Freelance Writing Rates Attract the Wrong Type of Clients

As alluded to in the point just above and in the story at the beginning of this post, the types of clients you attract with low, low rates can be some of the most demanding. Also, if they give you “bulk” orders, they’ll oftentimes expect an even further discount – even if you’re already dirt cheap!

It’s just not worth it. Trust me on this please.

3. Lower Freelance Writing Rates Lead to Low Self Esteem

This can happen for a couple of reasons. First, the fact that things are slow and you’re having a dry spell may cause you to doubt your talent or to think that you’re doing something wrong (instead of realizing that it’s just a dry spell all freelancers experience at one time or another).

Secondly, when you do lower your rate and don’t land more gigs — or land s**t clients who make your freelance life hell – it can REINFORCE what you may already be secretly thinking (eg, that you’re not good enough, talented enough, smart enough, etc.).

Rarely is this the case. And please, find another career before you beat yourself up like this.

4. Time Is Your Most Valuable Commodity as a Freelancer

I’ve said this plenty of times on this blog, but it bears repeating . . .

Time is your most valuable asset as a freelance writer (in fact, in life). Don’t waste it – and don’t let anyone else do so either.

Never underestimate how much time it’s going to take to complete a writing job.

When you think “It’s just 250 words,” remember, you still have research and editing and proofing to do. And, when you build in things like marketing, billing and all the other stuff it takes to run a successful freelance business, then you can see that what you’re really billing for is way beyond writing “just” 250 words.

Conclusion

There are plenty of well-paying freelance writing jobs out there. So don’t freak out if you have a few slow months and please don’t travel the “If I lower my rates I’ll land more jobs” road. Rarely will this be the case. And even if you do, it can backfire – for all of the reasons above – and then some.

Just continue to market – and the work will flow in – even if your freelance writing rates are not the lowest around.

Hope you’re having a great week thus far. For my American friends, I hope you’re looking forward to the upcoming Memorial holiday. As my nephew recently joined the Air Force, it takes on a whole new meaning for me. Be safe on the roads, as drinking and driving are unfortunately all too common this time of year.

Yuwanda
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P.S.: Take the guessing game out of setting your freelance writing rates once and for all.

This simple straightforward guide gives you several pricing models that will help you set — and get — the rate you deserve.

P.P.S.: Want to start a successful career where you have the mobility to live and work where you please?

Visit our freelance writing bookstore for a ton of opportunities (freelance writing and internet marketing) to get you started.

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    Comments

    1. @Adrian: You’re welcome. And, good for you!

    2. Hi Yuwanda,

      The attitude by potential customers really is, “Well I can write, so why should you be charging me because I’m giving you the work.” A pathetic concept of and to any freelance writer.

      I ask for 50 cents a word and have even tried it out at a $1 a word. No takers yet!

      The other day, someone offered me $1 for 500 words and demanded a quick reply. I hit the SPAM button and didn’t bother.

      Thanks for your valuable advice.

    3. Thanks for lending your voices to the discussion Nina and Paul.

      Nina, funny you should mention social media. I plan to do a post next week about what to expect when you bring on a social media client. I don’t think freelance writers really realize what it takes to do this effectively.

      And Paul, you’re soooo right about low-paying clients. Most (not all) are so much more difficult to work with than higher-paying clients. In all my years of freelancing, I’ve never managed to wrap my brain around why this seems to be true.

      Happy Memorial Day!

      Have fun, but be safe.

    4. Amen to Yuwanda and Paul both! I also found out the hard way that low paying clients are just not worth the effort. 🙂 On other news, this is a little off topic, but you mention slow season for freelance writers. However, I have been getting several requests for Social Media Management. I just finished writing 2 proposals for Social Media Management positions. So, when the writers are slowing down, I would focus on getting Social Media clients, because that is still in high demand right now!

    5. Amen to this entire post Yuwanda! I could not agree more. Low-paying clients are nothing but a pain in the a**, totally not worth it. Thanks for reaffirming this principle for me!

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