Those new to freelance writing and/or blogging are likely wondering what to charge for their work. Unfortunately, the answer is in a few parts. New writers will soon learn their rate is predetermined most of the time. That is, the publisher sets the rate for projects. Often, this is a flat fee. For example, it’s not unusual to see something akin to, “5 blog posts for $25” or “each page $8”. The million dollar questions of course, are how many words per post and what constitutes a page?
Good questions. And without specific instructions, these can be lucrative gigs. After all, a blog post can be as little as 50 words, 200 is quite common for “quick hit” posts. At 50 words per post, the publisher is paying an effective rate of 10 cents per word–syndicated columnists territory. As for $10 per page, not so much. Pages are generally between 600 and 850 words, making each word less than 1 cent.
Charging a flat fee for blog posts is very common. The trick is to make each post worthwhile to the publisher, reader and writer. That’s accomplished by writing just enough words to give the post value and not wasting an inordinate amount of time on research for the topic. Striking a balance will be difficult. The publisher will want content–that translates into meaningful word count. In other words, at least 400 well-researched words.
In some instances, publishers are not overly concerned about word count. In these cases, a publisher is usually interested in keywords and getting content on the blog. But these are few and far between. Any search engine will penalize a blog for “keyword stuffing“.
This method of charging for work is the most common in freelance journalism. The writer or publisher sets the price per-word rate. This rate varies greatly from publisher to publisher. Some pay as little as 1 to 1-1/5 cents per word, while others pay as much as 5 cents per word; anything over this is generous.
How Do I Set My Freelance Writer Rate?
Setting a rate is based on experience. Those new to freelancing finding few opportunities to set the price per-word rate between 1 1-/5 cents per word to 2 cents per word. A good guide is to look at available freelance jobs, then do the math. Chances are, you’ll come up with the aforementioned rates. You can also establish a freelance writer hourly rate. Look at your competitors to learn about going freelance rates.
When Can I Charge More?
Once established, meaning you can point to published work in reputable locations, then you can up your rate. But it must be done incrementally and your current clients are grandfathered in, meaning you won’t be charging them more for the same work. Changes in rate are done in tenths. For example, if you now charge 1.5 cents per word, you can up it to 1.75; making a 400 word $6 post worth an extra dollar or $7. After a time, you can again up your rate to 2 cents per word, making the same 400 word post worth $8. While it doesn’t seem like much, it adds up with multiple posts.
Inevitably, a publisher won’t be forthcoming with payment. It happens. No one likes working for free. But if you accept a project in good faith, both parties are relying on said faith to act accordingly. There are mix-ups and mistakes. Occasionally, a publisher will forget. But there are times when payment for services rendered isn’t made, even after a polite reminder.
Set your payment terms on your blog or website. Make them clear and concise. If a job goes unpaid for five to ten days, send a reminder. After twenty days, send a reminder with motivation. Meaning, include your payment terms and conditions.
Retaining Work Rights
Should a gig remain unpaid, you retain all rights to the work product. Be sure to state this in your payment terms. Any publication of unpaid work will be unlawful. Though this may not stop an unscrupulous publisher from posting it anyway, it is typically a successful deterrent.
With time and experience, a freelancer will become familiar with the field. Less mistakes will be made as experience grows, keeping costs low while improving expertise.