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Why I More Than Quadrupled My Freelance Writing Rates: Is It Time for You to Do the Same?

This past weekend, I updated my online writing company’s site rates. I more than quadrupled them (in some cases, quintupling them). Why? It’s been a long time coming. Following is why I finally took the plunge and did it. Before I get to my reasons, following are my old and new rates.

My Old Freelance Writing Rates

Snippet Posts: 300-450 words. $30; $40 for more complex copy.

Blog/Web Posts: 500-700 words. $50; $60 for more complex copy.

Long-Form Content: 800-1,200 words. $95; $110 for more complex copy.

Skyscraper Content: Content longer than 1,200 Words (contact us for a custom quote).

My New Freelance Writing Rates

Snippet Posts: 300-500 words. $150; $200 for more complex copy.

Blog/Web Posts: 500-750 words. $250; $300 for more complex copy.

Long-Form Content: 750-1,200 words. $395; $450 for more complex copy.

Skyscraper Content: Content longer than 1,200 Words (contact us for a custom quote).

7 Reasons I Decided to Significantly Raise My Freelance Writing Rates

How to Set Your Freelance Rates: The Ultimate Freelancer's Guidebook1. Time Is Money

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know that I wear many hats, ie: self-publisher, internet marketer, freelance writer, blogger (for two blogs regularly and guest posting on many others) and content marketing manager for my online writing company.

There’s not a lot of time in the day for me to fiddle faddle around. When I’m working on one thing, I’m choosing to be paid what that thing brings in – and if it’s a low-paying project, then I’m literally, voluntarily, taking a pay cut.

2. Lower Rates Hurting My Brand

I once had a prospect question “what third-world country” I was getting writers from because my rates were so low. He wrote:

Your educational experience is impressive. But the web site refers to a “stable of writers”, and at [what you charge for] original content, I have to ask from what third world country are you drawing these writers?

Surely someone such as yourself (if you’re no [sic] fictional) who’s a Masters candidate in expensive New York City would need higher rates than that to survive. So how does this work, really?

Cordially,
Bill

FYI, this was in the beginning of my SEO writing career (late 2007/early 2008), when I was charging $25-$35 for 400-600 word SEO articles, which is what clients were mostly requesting at the time.

Price perception is real folks, and when you set your freelance writing rates too low, prospects tend to automatically think that you’re unskilled, inexperienced and/or hail from some cheap writing farm in a foreign land (and to be fair, we have plenty of them in the states too). This hurts your brand as a freelance writer, especially if you’re trying to land top-tier and/or higher-quality clients.

As an aside, keeping my rates low has cut both ways. How? I believe that one of the reasons I’ve been able to land clients relatively easily and keep them for long stints of time is that my clients can’t quite believe the quality my firm turns out for the rates I was charging.

Many would give me a “what the hell, how bad can it be shot,” then remark on the quality and continue to order and recommend me to colleagues. So being low-priced, coupled with my experience and educational background, has been a huge plus.

I still would have made a go of it as an online writer charging higher rates, it just woulda taken longer for me to get where I am today doing it – in my opinion.

3. Clients are Willing to Pay More

The industry has matured, and rates reflect this. According to a study of freelance writing rates by ClearVoice — a content marketing agency site I signed up with this past weekend by the way – freelance writers are significantly undercharging … by a lot!

Get this: 43% of clients report paying 35 to 50 cents per word. HOWEVER, 60% of freelancers only charged between 10 and 19 cents per word. The survey also found that:

“Marketers’ per-article rates vary greatly by content type, ranging from as low as $25 per blog post up to $2,500 for lengthy white papers. The sweet spot for a 400- to 600-word blog post was between $50 and $250.”

FYI, for more perspective, here’s a rate chart from Writer’s Digest that shows what the going rate is for all kinds of freelance writing. As you can see, clients are ready, willing and able (and indeed, EXPECT) to pay more.

Well, if they’re willing …

4. High-Paying Niches

Lately, my firm has been getting a lot of content requests in the tech and medical industries. These are high-paying niches that almost beg you to charge more.

Some others that I have experience in are legal, bankruptcy, credit repair, personal finance and foreclosure. I will be targeting more of these types of companies because clients in these niches are accustomed to paying more, so there’s no/less haggling about rate.

5. Content Requests are Longer/More In-Depth

When I first started 9 years ago, the typical length of an article order was 300-500 words, with the occasional request for a 600-word article.

Nowadays, 600-750 words is standard, and that’s because search giant Google is rewarding longer content. Many clients routinely request long-form and/or skyscraper content, which can run anywhere between 1,000 and 3,000 words or more. Of course, this requires a higher rate because it takes longer to research and write.

6. Getting Out of My Comfort Zone

To be perfectly honest, I’ve been a pretty spoiled, lazy little freelance content producer. Part of it was luck; part of it was marketing. I got in early when there weren’t a lot of SEO writers around, and I also wrote an ebook about how to start a SEO writing career, which got me noticed on the web as an “SEO content expert.”

As stated above, my rates were also cheap. I didn’t raise them significantly to keep pace with what others were charging because I have other income streams (ie, self-publishing and internet marketing) and I wanted to keep my rates reasonable enough to land clients quickly without a lot of marketing – once I’d made a name for myself.

Now though, I’m getting out of my safe little comfort zone in order to increase my productivity. I read an interesting article on the benefits of stepping out of your comfort zone that explained it this way:

Comfort kills productivity because without the sense of unease that comes from having deadlines and expectations, we tend to phone it in and do the minimum required to get by. We lose the drive and ambition to do more and learn new things. … Pushing your personal boundaries can help you hit your stride sooner, get more done, and find smarter ways to work.

And reach goals sooner, I’d add.

With retirement looming within the next 15-20 years (yeah, I’m at that age where that REALLY matters to me), I have to step up my game if I want to stay on track with my life goals.

And you know what I’ve found in the past when I raised rates from $25 to $35 to $50 to $85/article? While landing higher-paying clients is harder, it’s not THAT much harder.

Did I lose clients when I raised rates in the past? Yes. But you know what? I can’t think of one that I regret losing; not because they weren’t a joy to work with, but because they no longer fit my business goals.

7. Getting Busier

Since I wrote The Ultimate Freelancer’s Guidebook, my first traditionally published book, the demands on my time have only increased. Again, time is money. It’s as simple as that.

Suggested Freelance Writing Rates for Online Content

FYI, here’s what one of the commenters (the first one) on the ClearVoice article suggests charging for writing online content these days:

600-750 words $200

750-1000 words: $225

1000-1200 words: $250

1200-1500 words: $300

1500-2000 words: $350

2000-2250 words: $400

2250-2500 words: $450

2500-2750 words: $500

2750-3000 words: $550

The commenter points out that they don’t charge by the word, but by the “minimum length” of the content.

Earning $100,000 Per Year as an Online Writer: Not as Hard as You Think

I did a bit of research before changing my rates, looking for freelancers with similar experience, educational level and the going industry rates for various kinds of content (which is hard to find, by the way).

Funnily, after I’d done that and settled on my new rates, I ran some numbers on reaching the six–figure mark as a freelancer, which is the gold standard for a lot of writers. Following is what I came up with:

$100,000 / 48 weeks (accounting for 4 weeks of vacation as a freelancer – cuz after all, freelancing should come with more than the standard two weeks IMO).

That equals approximately $2,084 per week, or $416/day (5 day work week). If you write for four hours per day – which is about the amount of actual time WRITING you’ll get in when you balance it with all the other activities you have as a freelance writing business owner, then that works out to just over $100 per hour.

And guess what? This is what many experienced freelance writers say you should be earning to cover things like self-employment taxes, healthcare, sick days, vacation days and all the other perks that you might have with a traditional 9-to-5 job (although many full-timers don’t receive a lot of these perks these days).

So without even realizing it, I was spot on in my calculations. Now, this is just my freelance writing income – not my self-publishing or internet marketing income. So you see, if I’m going to take time away from my other, “non-client” projects, it HAS to be worth my time.

Conclusion

Do I think everyone can command these types of rates? Just starting out – unless you have experience in a high-paying niche(s) and some good writing samples, no, probably not.

HOWEVER, it needn’t take you years to get there. I think that inside of six months or a year – again, with good samples and some experience under your belt – you can start charting these rates.

Thanks to the popularity of content marketing, many prospects are pre-sold on it. All you have to do is prove you can produce it. A few good clients and some solid writing samples can get you there.

Are you at the point in your web writing career where it’s time to significantly increase your rates? Do some internal (emotional) and external (clients/writing samples) inventory. It just may be time to make that move.

Of course, I cover how to set your freelance rates extensively in The Ultimate Freelancer’s Guidebook, as it is the cornerstone of succeeding, or not, as a freelancer.

Take the Poll: How Much Do You Charge for a Typical Article (500-750 words)?

How Much Do You Charge for a 500-750 Word Article?

 
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Share Your Rate Setting Woes, Worries, Fears & Triumphs

Sound off in the comments section below.

Best,

Yuwanda
Note: Follow my Author Profile on Amazon to get updates on new releases (just click the “Follow” link under the profile pic to the left).

PRE-ORDER NOW (Click graphic to be taken to order page)Pre-Order The Ultimate Freelancer's Guidebook on Amazon

P.S.: How to Get The Ultimate Freelancer’s Guide Bonus Content

Special Report: 5 Things You Should Know about Freelancing in a Global Economy That Will Land More Clients. To get this bonus content, send the receipt for your pre-order to info[at]InkwellEditorial.com on/before September 1st. Put “Pre-Ordered UFG” in the Subject line. On Sept 1st, you’ll be emailed the special report.

P.P.S.: Here’s How to Start Earning $100-$250+/Day as a Freelance Writer.

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How to Start a Freelance SEO Writing CareerGet the exact knowledge that pushed my freelance writing career to the next level – allowing me to travel and live abroad, get out of debt and really “live the freelance life.” One freelancer wrote:

Hey Yuwanda,

I hope all is well! I just wanted to let you know that this month marked the first month that my writing income surpassed that of my day job.

Thanks to your help and inspiration, I have more work than I know what to do with and have successfully landed a number of clients that give me recurring work. Thanks again for your advice!

SEO writing changed the trajectory of my freelance writing career. It can do the same for you!

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    Comments

    1. Yuwanda, just posted about this recently, too. Great minds. 🙂

      My rates went up a few times over the last 15 years, and I’m unapologetic (in fact, no pro should apologize for charging what they’re worth). I specialize. I have experience. That’s a bonus my clients get that they’re willing to pay for.

      Cathy, you’re Oprah in my eyes (even if my wallet disagrees). 🙂

    2. Perhaps it’s because I come from a 30-plus-year career in a specialized niche that I find even ClearVoice’s rates to be very low.

      My clients pay for my 30-plus years of insider/technical knowledge. I understand not everyone can pay my rate. That’s okay. I can’t hire Oprah as my personal PR person either. 🙂

      Did I undercharge when I started freelancing 8 years ago? Absolutely.

      I shudder when I see posted rates (even if only suggested) because it can put an underpriced value out there. Let’s face it, there are plenty of potential clients who have no idea what a going rate should be. I had more than one potential client quote something they read on the internet of what I should be charging. And we know if it’s on the internet, it must be true, right? 😉

      Like my daddy always used to say, “Everything’s relative.” 😉

      Good for you for recognizing your value, Yuwanda, and raising your rates. The fact that you have freelanced as long as you have is a huge value in my eyes.
      Cathy Miller recently posted…My 10 Worst Writing Slip upsMy Profile

      • Thank you Cathy for your insight. It means a lot coming from someone with your background and experience.

        I’ve shirked doing this for so long b/c I know it means I’ll have to get up off my kister and market to a different client base. Until now, I’ve been so complacent. Case in point — I’m sitting here working looking out at the view of the ocean from my desk and all I wanna do is lace up and go for a run on the beach. BUT, with new goals in mind, I know I have to hunker down and do what it takes.

        And yeah, ur right, ClearVoice’s rates are low compared to what I know some specialized writers get (eg, tech, medical, finance, direct mail copywriters), but it signals that companies are realizing the value of content marketing and are willing to pay decently for it.

        Again, thanks for your input. Always good to hear from you.

        BTW, did you get the book? I sent it to all contributors last Monday, the 15th, before I left the states.

        Have a good one! 🙂

        • Yes, I did receive it, Yuwanda. So sorry I didn’t get back to you. Boomer brain here intended to send an email of thanks. I can’t wait to go through it. Thanks so much for including me.

          My home in Encinitas, CA (north coast of San Diego) had a 180 degree view of the ocean. How I miss it!
          Cathy Miller recently posted…My 10 Worst Writing Slip upsMy Profile

          • Cool … I’m just glad you got it Cathy. Enjoy!

            And P.S., I sent a shoutout to the sea for you. 🙂 Actually, I’m not so much a sea girl (grew up in FL and kind of take it for granted). I like the mountains, but living in Jamaica has renewed my love of the ocean. After years of living in NY and Atlanta, I’d forgotten how majestic water is.

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