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How Much Should I Charge for This Blogging Job? Question from a New Freelance Writer

A quick little tidbit for you today … A couple of days ago, I received a question from an aspiring online freelance writer. I first corresponded with her a couple of weeks ago when she asked about transitioning from a full-time job to freelancing full-time.

She was interested in the SEO writing ebook. So obviously, she’s been busy taking action. Yoohoo!

Love, love, love it when newbies are proactive – cuz that’s all it takes to go from a soul-sucking job you hate to freelancing full-time. Move your er, assets! LOL! Anyhoo, following is her question, and my answer. But before we get to that, a little business.

Note: This post contains affiliate links. Here’s the site’s affiliate disclosure policy for full details. Now, to today’s post.

How Much Should I Charge for This Blogging Job?

Hi I had a question, not related necessarily to SEO, but to what to charge for writing a blog for someone? I applied and he liked my idea and wants to pay me to write 1 as a test run. It would be 1200 words, it would require some research on my part and he sent some other pieces to consider.

I’m not sure if it’s better to do a per word rate or estimate how many hours I would spend doing it for the rate? I don’t mind taking a bit less since this would be my 1st paying potential client  but don’t want to come off as cheap either… Any advice would help 🙂

My Answer

Following is what I told her …

Bloggers almost never charge by the word; that’s usually for magazine writers—and even they are moving to a more “per piece” rate system with the advent of “digital”.

It depends on the subject matter. I charge more for tech, legal, medical, etc. subjects. I HATE telling ppl what to charge, b/c it’s so individual, but what I will say is this, break it out into parts for your purposes.

If you think it’s going to take 4 hours to research and then 2 hours to write, and you want to earn $50/hour, then that’s your rate. That’s how I’d come up with a rate. I would say something like:

“Based on what you’ve told me, I estimate that it’s going to take about 4 hours of research time and a couple of hours to pull it all  together, proofread and edit it, so based on that, my fee is $___.”

This way, you’re not underestimating by too much and the client gets an idea of what goes into writing the piece they want.

What I always do when I quote clients like this is to “cap” the project at a certain amount. This way, they know they won’t pay more than $X, no matter how much time you spend on it.

Hope this helps, and good luck!

She Responded

That does help. Thank you. It’s regarding real estate, aimed at real estate agents. I like the idea of a cap. I was thinking $20-$25 an hour since I’m just starting out. I really appreciate how quickly you reply! And you give great advice.

I Wrote Back

That’s one of my primary niches. Fun stuff to write about. Good luck, and you’re very welcome.  Hit me back and let me know if you snag the gig.

Blogging Rates: A Few Tips

That ended our correspondence. I hope she lands the gig. Following are a few more things I wanted to point out about rate that I didn’t say to her.

Type of Client

A lot of rate is determined by the type of client you’re dealing with, of course. For example, private clients you approach on your own are likely to pay the most.

Getting Work from Agencies and Other Types of Firms

Web design firms, digital marketing companies, content marketing agencies, etc., are another group you can find goo gobs of work with – because they have lots of clients. This is how I launched my SEO writing career back in 2007.

One of my first pitches was to a SEO firm. They liked my writing, and over an 18 to 24-month period, I wrote hundreds of articles for them for several different account executives – earning thousands of dollars. And back then, my rate was only $25 per 500-word article; hence the name of the popular ebook I wrote.

These types of firms though are not likely to pay anywhere near what a private client will pay, but it’s not like it’ll be bottom of the barrel either. Rates have gone up since I started, and just from what I see and hear from other freelance writers, a rock-bottom rate is $35-$40/per piece of content these days (usually in the 400-750 word range).

I had one long-time SEO writer tell me she cold calls these types of firms and gets $50 to $75 per article pretty easily.

And then there are firms like ClearVoice, who pay $100 to $400 or $500 per piece, depending on what the assignment is. I got invited to submit my credentials for a book review for a client of theirs just a couple of weeks ago. The pay? Almost $200 for a 500-word review.

Related Post: See the post, Why I More Than Quadrupled My Freelance Writing Rates: Is It Time for You to Do the Same? for some more insight on how online / SEO writing rates have changed over the years.

There’s a poll at the end of that article. Here’s what it showed. See how almost 25% charge $200 or more? So yeah, rates have increased significantly.

Job Sites

Job sites like Upwork and Guru are normally referred to as “content mills” and you can find some pretty crappy paying assignments on them. However, I liken them to going to the thrift shop. You have to sift through the junk to get to the good assignments – and there are plenty of them there. Proof?

My co-course creator, Laura Pennington, used Upwork to launch a six-figure freelance writing career – in just 18 months. She once landed a $50,000 editing job and has completed hundreds of assignments on the site – work she may not even known existed had she not joined the site.

Content Mills: Still the Black Sheep of the Online Writing Family?

As an aside, I think sites like Upwork are changing along with the times. There will always be bottom feeders who want to pay $5 for 500 words. And unfortunately, there will be freelancers who will take those gigs.

As discussed in this post though, thanks to the popularity of content marketing, companies that care about their brand know they have to pay for good writing. And many of them are digging deep to do so.

They now make it a part of their annual budgets, because they rely on it to generate ongoing leads and sales, and to build their brands. If companies are budgeting for it, you can be sure they’re invested in the success of it — and they know that “cheap” won’t cut it.

And do you know where a lot of them look for talented freelance writers? On sites like Upwork – because it’s the largest marketplace for freelancers, and it saves them time in the hiring process.

Conclusion

No matter where you find your freelance writing gigs, pricing them right can be a sticking point, especially when you’re new. The easiest way to do it is to do some research – scour the websites of others (preferably those in your niche) to see what they’re charging.

You’re going to find that rates are all over the place, but if you look at 10 or 15 sites, you’ll start to get a feel for what a “going rate” is. You can also check noted sources like Writers Market to gain more insight. After doing this, you can then set your rates with some sense of confidence.

My Evergreen Advice to the “How Much Should I Charge for This Writing Job?” Question

One final note – nothing gets freelance writers to bickering more than the mention of rate. It’s why I don’t like to tell people what to charge. When I first started, I was taken aback by the meanness of many who excoriated me for “bringing down the rates for all freelancers.” I was charging $15 for blog posts (200-350 words), and $25 for articles (500 words).

Yeah, it was low, but it worked for me. I had been downsized out of a job and needed to earn some money – quick! – to pay my mortgage, car note, etc. I landed jobs seamlessly at that low rate – which I was thankful as heck for at the time because it dug me out of a financial hole.

I didn’t see any of those who were criticizing me offering to pay my mortgage, so I said to myself, “Screw’em! I need to do what works for me.” And that’s what I did; managing to to go on and build a thriving online writing business that exists to this day – a full decade later.

That’s why my advice when it comes to how much to charge as a freelance writer, blogger, etc., is do what works for you – because nobody has to pay your bills but you.

Ok, I’m off my soapbox. Now, for an irresistible offer (at least I think so!). 🙂 And oh, if you found this post helpful, please pin it to Pinterest.

P.S.: The Quickest, Easiest Way to Start Making Money as a Freelance Writer

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    Comments

    1. I hope she gets the gig as well! I’ve learned multiple ways to charge clients but have never used one method for each situation. I prefer to charge per word since the math is easier to figure out for me than the per hour rate. I’ve always done it that way and probably always will. I don’t like having all my apples in one basket, which is why I like to have quite a few clients on retainer. I make sure that my work for them is what they need for the time being. If they need to downsize what I’m doing, it isn’t as big of a deal for me since I have other streams of income.
      Lisa recently posted…5 Ways to Find the Core of Your Anxiety as an EntrepreneurMy Profile

      • Very smart to diversity Lisa. I’m a big believer in it, that’s why I self-publish, create ecouses and do affiliate marketing. I’ve been burned before when I had all ofmy egges in one basket, and I said, “Never again!” Also, it just makes freelancing more fun.

        As for charging by the word, it’s been a minute since I heard of anyone who prefers to do it that way consistently. In fact, the industry as a whole seems to be moving away from that pricing strategy, even mags. But, one of the things I love about freelance writing is that you can do what works for you, cuz that’s all that counts. Continued success, and thanks for sharing your thoughts. I’m pretty sure the freelancer who wrote this email is following this post and will receive your well wishes. 🙂

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