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Starting a Freelance SEO Writing Career: The Case Study of SEO Mary Continued

Today we check in on SEO Mary. Who is she? What’s she all about? …

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Freelance Writing Rates: What to Charge for Proofreading, Copyediting, Writing, Etc.

Originally Titled: How to Determine What to Charge as an Editorial Freelancer

The following is an age-old question, “What/how do I charge?” Specifically, the inquirer writes:

I’ve recently left a staff job after a few years, and I’m now planning to stick to freelancing. But, I’m not sure of what the going rates are for writing, various types and levels of editing, proofreading, and other editorial work. I understand that different industries and types of organizations have varying rates, but can you give me any “sample ranges:\” for rates to charge, i.e., hourly rates, project rates, page rates, or word rates, or tell me where I can find current rates?

This question is too broad to answer because pricing a job depends on so many factors (breadth of assignment; type of work to be done; discipline (general, scientific, legal, etc.); field (magazine, tech firm, nonprofit, etc.); experience; etc. So, I will give a general answer.

Remember, this is a very general answer. Feel free to chime in and give the writer some feedback based on your experience.

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Read here how I routinely make $250+/day as an SEO writer– and you can too!

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General proofreading/copyediting rates range from a low of $15/hour to a pretty standard $35-$40/hour. Usually, the more specialized the discipline, the more you can charge for these services. Also, your experience level will count here. I’ve rarely seen copyediting go beyond $50/hour though. And, that’s usually for highly specialized disciplines like medical and/or technical copyediting.

$35/hour is about the standard rate for general and $40 is the standard for more technical work.

Proofreading (just proofreading) usually tops out at $25/hour. The lines b/t proofreading and copyediting are so blurred though that most freelancers don’t differentiate between the two.

Editing and writing usually start at a low of $25 hour and can go up to $75 or $100+. Again, the more specialized the discipline, the more you can charge. The lines between editing and writing can sometimes be blurred, but they usually aren’t. A standard rate for editing is $40-$50/hour; for writing, most start at $45 and work their way up.

It’s hard to raise rates in the editorial industry, so I always advise freelancers, especially if they have more than 5 years experience, to start with what they plan to charge for the next 3 years or so because the industry just doesn’t accept too much movement in fees. At least, this was my experience with clients.

One client in my e-book, How to Really Make a Living as an Editorial Freelancer noted that rates hadn’t changed for copyediting at their firm in 5+ years (they were paying $25/hour). This is a well-respected financial firm that hires a lot of freelancers.

When you are working with companies, you will usually charge by the hour, or a job rate. When you are working with individuals, you might get away with a page rate, depending on what the job is. Again, this is just in my experience.

A note of caution: I would only charge a job rate if I had a lot of experience with the material at hand and knew that I could work through it pretty quickly. Most clients like job rates because they know up front what they will be paying; and, this can work in your favor if you are a fast, efficient worker.

Read more on setting your freelance rates for writing, editing, proofreading, etc. (these are firsthand accounts and discussions). Good luck!

Copyright © Originally published in 2008. Republished 2010: All material on this site is copyright protected and cannot be reproduced in any manner whatsoever without my written consent (linking to is fine).

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Freelance Writing Advice: The Saga of the $25 Press Release Client

In Friday’s post, I promised to tell you the story of the client who tried to pay $25 for a press release, instead of $125. Here goes

This client called me on a weekend. I specifically remember it was a Sunday because I was coming back from the grocery store and was preparing to take groceries out of the car.

The Grocery Story is My Good Luck Charm for Landing Freelance Writing Jobs

As an aside, I seem to get called a lot in the grocery store. The first serious inquiry I ever got for SEO writing was a client who called me while I was grocery shopping in WalMart. We spent a good 10 minutes talking, and I had to tell him to excuse the announcement for sale items coming over the loud speaker. He chuckled at that and right then, I knew he was going to be cool to work with. That’s proven to be the case.

But, I digress . . . back to this, the $25 press release client. 

So I’m getting ready to step out of my car to unload bags and my phone rings. I did deep in the recesses of my purse, and finally locate my phone. I answer it and am surprised because it’s a potential client – calling on a Sunday. Not many do this.

Cold Emailing Works!

He tells me he got my email (I cold email a lot) and was impressed with my credentials, yadda, yadda, yadda. He owns an internet marketing firm and needs me to do some press releases for his clients. He tells me he’ll start me off with one first, to see how it goes. And, if all goes well, he’ll be using me for other stuff as well, eg, article writing, etc.

I’m psyched, of course.

NOTE: We don’t discuss price, because I assume he’s viewed my site from the link I sent him and knows what it costs (this will come back to haunt me).

Later on that evening, I log on to see if he sent the project, but nothing. I’m not worried though. As he called on a Sunday and seemed in a bit of a rush, I just assumed that he would send it.

He sends it the next day, and gives me a couple of days to get it back to him.

If you’ll remember from Friday’s post, I told you the reason he wanted me to write the release is because the company sold a product for the home construction industry. They sent me two versions of the press release they wanted me to revise. One was written by them (it was too long), and the other was written by their client (it was too technical and too long).

Typical Press Release Writing Problems from Clients That You’ll Be Called on To Fix

So, my job was to revise it, accomplishing the following:

(i) make it relevant so it had a good chance of being picked up by the media;

(ii) make it reader friendly (as opposed to technical jargon, make it so the average reader could understand it); and

(iii) make it the proper length (one page).

It took me a good four hours to accomplish the above.

After I turned it in, the client raved about how great it was and wanted to know what my availability was for other projects. I also gave her (the partner to the first person to contact me) a couple of more marketing ideas to present to her client.

We had lots of back and forth refining the ideas she could present to her client – things she had never even thought of (in tomorrow’s post I’ll expand upon how to know when a client is a good candidate to upsell quickly).

I felt pretty confident that I’d be more work from this company. Well, what I call the “work killing angel” had other thoughts in mind. “Not so fast missy,” she said.

The Problem w/ My Invoice

When I presented the invoice for the press release a couple of days later, do you know what the client called me and said, “We got your invoice for the press release. I thought it was $25, but the invoice is for $125?”

It was said as a question, not a statement. Almost as if he expected me to say it had been a misprint.

I said, “Yes, is there a problem.”

He said, “I thought it was $25.”

I said, “What made you think that?”

He said, “It says on your site that an article is only $25.”

I said, “An article is different from a press release. The rate card on my site lists both, and one is $25 and the other is $125.”

When You’re Dealing with a Client Who Doesn’t “Get It”

He said, “I don’t understand the difference. Both are just one page.”

And this is where clarity sank in. I realized that he didn’t get it, ie, he didn’t know very much about marketing. This astounded me as they market themselves as an web marketing firm. They have a very slick site and if you came across it, you’d think they are a multi-million dollar company.

So, I gave him a very in-depth explanation, pointing out the differences between the two. He mumbled something to the effect of, “Oh, I see and said, “I don’t know if we’re going to be able to afford you going forward.”

I explained to him the going rate for press releases and told him that I understood and to keep me in mind for other work.

I haven’t heard from them again.

The moral of the story: Make sure your clients know what they’re getting – and for what price.

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coverP.S.: Get the freelance writing opportunity that allowed me to be financially secure enough to travel, live abroad, get out of debt and really “live the freelance life!”

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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SEO Copywriting: Types of Projects to Expect as an SEO Writer

Since my foray into SEO writing, I’ve had some interesting projects. I’ve learned a ton….

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How to Start an SEO Writing Career with No Experience: One Freelancer’s Success Story! (Part V of V)

This post is an update on “SEO Mary.” Mary recently landed her first SEO writing client, less than a week after she started to market. FYI, Mary is a freelance writer who has been allowing us an inside peek into how she’s starting her SEO writing career. She has agreed to give me periodic updates. Hence, at some point in the future, I’ll give an update on her story….

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How to Start an SEO Writing Career with No Experience: One Freelancer’s Success Story! (Part IV of V)

This post is an update on “Mary,” a freelance writer who has been allowing me to chronicle her foray into writing SEO content for a living after buying my ebook on the subject….

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How to Start an SEO Writing Career with No Experience: One Freelancer’s Success Story!

This article is an update on “Mary’s story.” Who is Mary? Mary is a freelance writer who has recently started to do SEO writing. She bought my ebook on SEO writing and started to get queries from clients before she even started to market.

Note: Update July 2016. To follow this entire series from the beginning, click the following links: Part IPart II; this is Part III; Part IV; Part V; Part VI; Part VII; Part VIII; and Part IX.

Along the way, Mary has generously allowed me to chronicle her story, from her panic of answering that first email query from a client, to advice I gave her on how to grow her business to make $5,000/month, or more, by outsourcing work to other freelancers.

Here’s the latest on Mary’s foray into the SEO writing sector.

Email Received from Mary: “Yuwanda . . . I just finished an e-mail “blast” to 15 SEO companies. I’m making some progress. I just checked my site’s stats . . . after sending out queries the last couple of days. And this time they [site visitors] stayed longer . . . and looked at almost all of my site’s pages, something that hasn’t happened yet. So I’m rather pleased.

Email I Sent to Mary: Mary that’s great! Keep up the good work, and let me know about that first PAYING project.

Email Received from Mary Later that Same Day:

Mary: So I come home from work and what do I see, this e-mail from one of my queries:

Client Query to Mary: “I don’t usually respond to unsolicited offers in our RFP, but I am curious what you would charge to develop 6 pages of content for category pages at the top of silos. I would provide you with a tag cloud, keyword discovery reports and some keyword density guidelines.”

Mary: “Yuwanda, I know I ask alot, but he’s talking SEO that I don’t know …;-) What are “category pages,” “top of silos,” “tag cloud,” “keyword discovery reports?” At $25/page (my stated rates), is that what I should charge? Or are these he is asking for more detailed and I should charge $35 or more?

Good golly, I need to do some SEO-speak research. I thought I knew enough — I know what long tails are, what density is, etc., but he’s speaking a language I’m clueless about. I’ll do some research tomorrow and e-mail him then.

My Email to Mary a Bit Later that Evening:

Mary:

You’re getting closer.

FYI, all he’s asking you is what would you charge to write six pages of content for lead categories on his site. He will send you all the info (eg, keyword density reports, what keyword density he wants) to help you out.

Some definitions to help you out:

Siloing is basically categorizing a site so that information can be found easier. You’ll also hear it referred to as site mapping, site structure and site categorizing. A good in-depth definition can be found here.

Category pages are the subsections of a site, relative to the overall content on a site.  If you have a shopping site for example, some Top of Category page might  be Ladies, Men, Housewares. Some subsections might be Shoes, Handbags, Lingerie, etc.

To read more about it, click here.

A tag cloud is just keyword that you enter to describe the content on the page. Tag clouds are just clusters of keywords, labels or tags. When it’s more than one, it’s called a tag cloud.

As for charging more, you might quote him a project rate based on how long the articles are. If you want, feel free to call me and I’ll answer any questions you have.

Hope that helps.
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Well, Mary went on to land that client. I’ll post the rest (hmmm, I think Part III) of the story on Thursday (2/14/08) and next Monday (2/18/08), I’ll post the finally to wrap up the series.

And a big thank you to “Mary” for allowing me to chronicle her success. You know who you are! 🙂

P.S.: I’m Ready to Start a Lucrative Career as a Web Writer.

x-click-but22$49.95

How to Start a Freelance SEO Writing CareerUnsolicited Testimonial

Hi Yuwanda!

Just wanted to say thank you for your e-books! I bought your SEO e-book on May 10th and just received payment for my first order of SEO blog articles! It’s a recurring job for an SEO company that is working with an allergist. All I have to do is take some stock articles and rewrite 8 articles per month at $25 each. I got this job by [following the marketing plan] in your e-book. … Now I am confident that I can charge more for my work!

This is just in time because I was worrying about having to break down and find a full time job. I want to stay home and work because my fiance has kidney failure. He needs a transplant and we fully expect that he will receive one and live a long life. However, if he does not, then he has a good 15 years of life.

While 15 years can be a long time and any number of things can happen in that span of time, I don’t want to spend it stressed out about a job and commuting to a place I hate. Thanks for giving me the tools to create a flexible online career!

P.P.S.: Have something to stay to the freelance community?

Have some freelance advice, tips and/or a success/failure story to share? Submit a guest post. Read the guidelines and if I like it, I usually publish it within a few days.

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How to Earn $5,000/Month or More as an SEO Writer

If you’re an SEO writer (aka article writer, SEO content provider, web writer, etc.), you’re probably busy. And if you’re not, I guarantee you there’s a marketing flaw. SEO content writing is a hot niche in freelance writing right now, and you can quickly become overwhelmed, as one freelancer recently learned….

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Freelance Success Story: How One Freelance Started to Get Queries Before She Started to Market (and what she did about it)

A panicked freelancer recently contacted me with a problem most would love to have – before she even started marketing, a potential client came a’knocking! “Huh, how did that happen?” you might be wondering. Let me explain….

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5 Reasons Freelance Writing Websites & Blogs Don’t Make Money on Ads

Advice for Advertising on Freelance Writing Websites

Last month, for perhaps the first time since I started writing ebooks, I started to place ads to promote them – small ads on popular freelance writing sites.

On quite a few sites I ran across, I wanted to place an ad, but hated where the ads were placed, so I didn’t. I think a lot of website owners who are seeking to monetize their sites via ads are losing out.

As a potential advertiser, here a few things that would make me advertise with you – and a few others that turned me off.
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Read here how I routinely make $250+/day as an SEO writer – and you can too!
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Things that Make Me Want to Spend Money to Advertise On A Site & Some That Don’t

1. Ad Placement: Many webmasters bury ads or give them inappropriate placement. For example, on some popular freelance writing blogs, I saw ads that were placed below the “About”, “Feeds” Categories” and “Archives sections.

If I’m spending money with a site I want my ad to be as prominent as possible. To me, this signals that you think your “Categories” section is more important than my ad.

The reason I was turned off when I saw this is that many sites have quite an extensive “Categories” section. This means in some cases that ads are near the bottom quarter of the page where it’s less likely to be seen. 

So, if you’re seeking advertiser, give them the most prominent placement possible; after all, it’s what they’re paying for.

2. Traffic Generation Stats: I ran across one site that said something to the effect of “we’re growing; take advantage of low ad rates now.” But, there were no hard and fast stats.

Don’t make advertisers search for your traffic generation stats. If you’re seeking ad dollars, the most important reason advertisers are considering advertising with you is your traffic generation.

Many webmasters try to monetize their sites too soon – ie, when their traffic levels are not high enough to justify seeking advertisers. What should this standard be? I don’t know, every niche is different.

As for freelance writing sites, I did some poking around to find out traffic levels of some of the most popular sites to see how they all compared. And, you know what, even wildly popular freelance writing sites don’t get as much traffic as one would think.  I’m not naming names because I don’t want to offend. But a couple of the most popular sites I checked get between 3K-10K/day.

I was surprised because I expected much more. Makes me feel good about the 1,000+ visitors/day my site gets.

Want to get a good handle on the traffic a site generates. Mosey on over to StatBrain.com. And, thanks to Paula Mooney over at PaulaMooney.blogspot.com for turning me on to StatBrain.com.

FYI, in case you’re interested in this kind of stuff, I get lots of helpful tech hints from Paula’s blog. She’s an online entrepreneur who was a techie in the corporate world. A non-techie myself, her occasional tips and hints come in handy.

3. Advertise Button: One major pet peeve I had with some blogs/websites who marketed for ad dollars is that they made it hard to find the information on their site.

This bowled me over. I mean, if I want somebody to buy something from me, the least I’m going to do is make it easy to find out what the requirements are. A simple universal “Advertise,” or “Advertise with Us” button will do.

4. Announce My Ad: Finally, one thing I would like to have seen more of is something along the lines of “Please Visit Our Sponsors” category.

While this is paid-for advertising and people will ignore it, many won’t. It calls attention to the fact that, “Hey, there are some products/services here that might interest you.”

5. Explaining Rate: A few websites/blogs I visited made it hard to understand exactly what their rate was. I hate it when things are explained in terms of “CPM” or “Ad Units.”

While this is standard Madison Avenue ad agency jargon, many don’t understand the jargon. I’ve been in publishing forever and should understand this terminology, but it still confuses me and I have to stop and figure it out. In most cases, this just seems ostentatious and unnecessary. A simple $30 for $30 days will do.

One of my sisters majored in Advertising & Communications at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York and one of the rules of advertising she learned was, “If you confuse the customer, you lose the sale.” Sage advice.

For better or worse, these are the things that stood out to me as I actively went to spend some ad dollars. If your ad sales are not what you think they should be, perhaps some of the reasons listed here are why.

Read more.

5 Reasons Freelance Writing Websites & Blogs Don’t Make Money on Ads

Last month, for perhaps the first time since I started writing ebooks, I started to place ads to promote them – small ads on popular freelance writing sites.

On quite a few sites I ran across, I wanted to place an ad, but hated where the ads were placed, so I didn’t. I think a lot of website owners who are seeking to monetize their sites via ads are losing out.

As a potential advertiser, here a few things that would make me advertise with you – and a few others that turned me off.

Things that Make Me Want to Spend Money to Advertise On A Site & Some That Don’t

1. Ad Placement: Many webmasters bury ads or give them inappropriate placement. For example, on some popular freelance writing blogs, I saw ads that were placed below the “About”, “Feeds” Categories” and “Archives sections.

If I’m spending money with a site I want my ad to be as prominent as possible. To me, this signals that you think your “Categories” section is more important than my ad.

The reason I was turned off when I saw this is that many sites have quite an extensive “Categories” section. This means in some cases that ads are near the bottom quarter of the page where it’s less likely to be seen. 

So, if you’re seeking advertiser, give them the most prominent placement possible; after all, it’s what they’re paying for.

2. Traffic Generation Stats: I ran across one site that said something to the effect of “we’re growing; take advantage of low ad rates now.” But, there were no hard and fast stats.

Don’t make advertisers search for your traffic generation stats. If you’re seeking ad dollars, the most important reason advertisers are considering advertising with you is your traffic generation.

Many webmasters try to monetize their sites too soon – ie, when their traffic levels are not high enough to justify seeking advertisers. What should this standard be? I don’t know, every niche is different.

As for freelance writing sites, I did some poking around to find out traffic levels of some of the most popular sites to see how they all compared. And, you know what, even wildly popular freelance writing sites don’t get as much traffic as one would think.  I’m not naming names because I don’t want to offend. But a couple of the most popular sites I checked get between 3K-10K/day.

I was surprised because I expected much more. Makes me feel good about the 1,000+ visitors/day my site gets.

Want to get a good handle on the traffic a site generates. Mosey on over to StatBrain.com. And, thanks to Paula Mooney over at PaulaMooney.blogspot.com for turning me on to StatBrain.com.

FYI, in case you’re interested in this kind of stuff, I get lots of helpful tech hints from Paula’s blog. She’s an online entrepreneur who was a techie in the corporate world. A non-techie myself, her occasional tips and hints come in handy.

3. Advertise Button: One major pet peeve I had with some blogs/websites who marketed for ad dollars is that they made it hard to find the information on their site.

This bowled me over. I mean, if I want somebody to buy something from me, the least I’m going to do is make it easy to find out what the requirements are. A simple universal “Advertise,” or “Advertise with Us” button will do.

4. Announce My Ad: Finally, one thing I would like to have seen more of is something along the lines of “Please Visit Our Sponsors” category.

While this is paid-for advertising and people will ignore it, many won’t. It calls attention to the fact that, “Hey, there are some products/services here that might interest you.”

5. Explaining Rate: A few websites/blogs I visited made it hard to understand exactly what their rate was. I hate it when things are explained in terms of “CPM” or “Ad Units.”

While this is standard Madison Avenue ad agency jargon, many don’t understand the jargon. I’ve been in publishing forever and should understand this terminology, but it still confuses me and I have to stop and figure it out. In most cases, this just seems ostentatious and unnecessary. A simple $30 for $30 days will do.

One of my sisters majored in Advertising & Communications at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York and one of the rules of advertising she learned was, “If you confuse the customer, you lose the sale.” Sage advice.

For better or worse, these are the things that stood out to me as I actively went to spend some ad dollars. If your ad sales are not what you think they should be, perhaps some of the reasons listed here are why.

Read more.

How Will a Recession Affect Freelance Writers? Insight into What It Takes to Land Gigs in a Down Economy

This question was written about recently on ChrisBlogging.com. He states, “Personally, I do not know much about American economics. …. While it is hard to predict the future, a lot of so-called experts feel that a recession is on the way. Like most, this worries me for a number of different reasons.”…

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