As a freelance writer, I never fully understood the value I provided to my clients until I wrote a case study describing how my content generated six figures in revenue for a particular client.
If you calculate the value of your writing, you’ll also probably realize that you’re undercharging for your writing services.
To help you figure out how much to charge, here’s an overview of the average freelance writing rates. We’ll also discuss how you can create a pricing strategy that maximizes your income.
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How Much Do Freelance Writers Make?
The average freelance writer makes about $29 per hour, and the average freelance writing rate per word ranges from $0.05-$0.10 for beginner writers, $0.30-$0.50 for intermediate writers, and $1-$1.50 for experienced writers.
Research from Jasper shows that the average freelance writer charges between $50-$1,500 per project for long-form articles.
Average Freelance Writer Rates
While we discussed the average rates for general freelance writing, here’s a more detailed breakdown of the average rates for various writing niches.
Freelance Copywriter Rates
According to Zip Recruiter, the average freelance copywriter rate is $37 per hour or $77,000 in the United States, and the top earners pull in about $136,000 annually.
This data is specifically for direct response copywriters, so the copy they write is usually sales letters or landing pages for offers like supplements or ebooks.
Freelance Editor Rates
Statistics from Upwork show that the average freelance copy editor rates per hour are $30 for beginners, $48 for intermediate editors, and $100 for advanced editors.
In the United States, the average rate for a freelance editor is $29 per hour or $59,500 annually, and the top editors earn about $122,500 annually.
Freelance Blog Writer Rates
The average freelance blog writer charges between $15 and $40 per hour, though technical writers typically charge between $20 and $45 per hour.
A more detailed study from Upwork showed that beginners charge about $20 per hour, intermediate writers charge $41 per hour, and expert-level writers charge $85 per hour.
According to ZipRecruiter, the average freelance blog writer in the United States charges $29 per hour and earns nearly $61,000 per year, with top earners pulling in $156,000 annually.
Freelance Email Writer
Freelance email writers usually charge between $25 to $50 for shorter emails and $150 to $500 for longer emails. However, many email writers operate strictly on retainers and charge about $1,200 for 15 emails (about $300 per week).
The average salary to hire an email copywriter full-time is about $77,000 per year or $37 per hour.
Freelance Journalist Rates
The average freelance journalist charges $25 per hour and earns about $52,737 annually in the United States. The top freelance journalists earn around $81,500 per year.
Freelance Website Content Writing Rates
Freelance website content writers usually charge between $100 and $200 for short webpages, though the average rate for longer webpages requiring technical writing is between $500 and $750.
Freelance Social Media Writing Rates
The average social media writer rate is $25 to $40 per hour or about $1 to $10 per social media post. In the United States, the average social media writer makes $76,000 annually or about $37 per hour.
SEO Writing Rates
Freelance Ghostwriting Rates
Most freelance ghostwriters charge between $35 and $65 per hour. However, freelance ghostwriting rates range dramatically as about 52% make between $39,500 and $62,499, while about 46% earn over $199,000 annually.
Freelance Writing Pricing Models
As you can see, there are various pricing models you can use. Many new writers don’t realize that the pricing model you select significantly impacts your total income. We’ll discuss the pros and cons of each one to help you choose the most advantageous pricing model for your business.
Pricing Per Word
Only about 18% of freelance writers price their services by word count. The per-word rate is somewhat disadvantageous to clients as it’s easy for a freelance content writer to add more fluff to the article to earn more money.
Therefore, you may find it more challenging to close potential clients if you’re using a pricing per word model. The other disadvantage of this model is that it doesn’t account for revisions. As a result, you may do a lot of extra work for no additional pay.
Pricing Per Post
Charging a set project rate is the most popular pricing strategy, with about 40% of all freelancers charging a flat fee for their services.
It’s advantageous for clients because they know exactly how much to budget for each project, and they don’t have to worry about freelance writers adding fluff to the post just to earn more for the article.
Project pricing is also advantageous for freelancers as it gives you more creative freedom to add or eliminate words as necessary. The key to pricing per project is clearly defining the writing project scope beforehand so that clients don’t request multiple revisions and drag out the project.
Pricing Per Hour
Charging an hourly rate benefits freelancers as you can always rest assured that you’ll be paid for every hour you work. However, many clients prefer to pay a flat fee or a price per word as it’s easy for a freelance writer to make up a random number of hours.
Instead, estimate the number of hours a project will require and then pitch the client a flat rate based on the project scope.
Finally, you can offer a retainer agreement where the client pays a monthly recurring fee for a specific deliverable. For example, you could charge $3,000 per month for four 1,500 word blog posts. This is an excellent pricing model as it gives you regular recurring income.
It adds more risk to the client, so closing them on this pricing model may be more difficult. However, if you consistently deliver great work, it is usually highly advantageous for both parties.
How Much Should a Freelance Writer Charge?
The best way to set your rates as a freelance writer is to evaluate the value you provide to clients and then select a rate based on that ROI.
Many freelance writers fall into the trap of pricing their services based on experience level, content quality, or effort required. However, clients don’t care about the writing itself – they only care about the ROI your services generate.
This is both good and bad news for freelance writers.
The bad news is that some clients have inefficient marketing strategies, poor-quality products, or other issues with their broader business strategy that make your content ineffective – regardless of your content’s quality. Unfortunately, if the content isn’t producing an ROI, it doesn’t make sense for them to continue working with you.
However, the good news is that if you work with the right clients, you can charge much higher rates, as any content you produce will provide much more value for them.
For example, if you work with an excellent lawyer, a 500 word article that brings them two new clients worth $20,000 is much more valuable than a 1,5000 word article for a flower show that generates two clients worth $20 each.
This means working with high-quality clients is the key to raising your rates. So, in addition to improving your writing skills and general content marketing knowledge, you should also strive to improve your client roster.
To determine the total value of your content, ask the client to track leads and deals won from your content and then calculate the value of those deals.
Using that number, you can determine the ROI of your services and then select a reasonable rate that is beneficial to both you and your clients.
How to Charge More For Your Freelance Writing Services
Now that you’re charging based on the ROI of your writing services, here are a few different methods to make more money as a freelance writer.
1. Work With High Quality Clients
If you work with higher quality clients, you’ll be able to produce a higher ROI and therefore charge higher rates for your services.
The tricky part is defining a high quality client, so consider these factors:
Some industries simply don’t have great success with content marketing.
For example, a Thai restaurant probably won’t see significant gains from producing 1,500 word blog posts on Thai food recipes simply because that’s not how their customers discover their business.
Instead, look at competing products and services and determine whether or not they are using content marketing to drive customers. You can usually answer this question by looking at how long they’ve produced content.
If they’ve been producing content for an extended period, chances are that the content is working and driving customers.
For example, if a cookie shop wants to hire you to create social media content, look at a competitor’s social media page. For example, a quick glance at the Crumbl Cookies Facebook page shows that they’ve been consistently producing a high volume of social media content for an extended period of time.
Therefore, social media content works for that industry, and you can drive a great ROI for the potential client’s business.
2. Lead Volume and Value
If a business is paying you to write email copy for a low-ticket offer to a low-quality email list, you probably won’t be able to generate much revenue from your copy.
As a result, they won’t be able to justify paying a higher rate for your services. Ideally, work with clients with a large target audience and a high-ticket product/service.
For example, a personal injury lawyer in New York City would be a great potential customer as they have a broad target audience and a high-value service.
3. Customer Satisfaction and Demand
Finally, do a background check on your potential client before you start working with them to ensure they have a high-quality product or service. If they have poor reviews or a product with poor product market fit, you likely won’t provide an ROI for them regardless of your content’s quality.
This is often an issue for freelance writers collaborating with brand new startups. To check for product/market fit and product/service quality, browse review sites to gauge customer satisfaction.
For example, Gong would probably be a great client as they clearly have plenty of happy customers according to their 5,000 plus G2 reviews:
2. Implement a Retainer Pricing Model
Once you’ve closed higher-quality clients, implementing a retainer pricing model is the next step to increasing your income. We’ve found that this is the most profitable pricing model as it allows you to generate recurring revenue.
Many clients intend to work with freelance writers for an extended period of time, but budget cuts and workflow interruptions can cause content projects to be pushed back or canceled.
As a result, many freelance writers find their income unstable, which can be stressful and unfortunate.
To help you to generate a more consistent income, consider using a retainer pricing model where the client agrees to pay you monthly for three to six month contracts.
The only drawback with the retainer pricing model strategy is that clients may hesitate to sign as the retainer model is much riskier for them. Therefore, offer a trial one-month contract and then move them to a retainer pricing model.
In addition, it’s important to have great testimonials and other happy clients to prove that you do excellent work. Then, be sure to constantly deliver the same superior quality work for your clients so that they continue to renew the retainer with you and give you referrals.
3. Reposition Your Services
One unfortunate aspect of freelance writing is that many business owners view content writing as a commodity. Therefore, you may reach a ceiling where you find most clients don’t want to pay more for content writing services.
For example, if you’re already charging $500 per blog post, many freelance writers have a hard time raising their prices more, as $500 is definitely on the higher end for freelance blog writing.
The key to charging more is repositioning yourself from a freelance writer to an SEO or content service provider. Then, instead of pitching clients a set of deliverables (e.g., a 1,500 word blog post), you can pitch them an end-to-end content service.
Many high-end freelance writers already include additional services in their offer, like keyword research and content strategy, so you may not have to change your services at all. Instead, you’ll just have to reposition the messaging.
While it may seem silly that you’re offering the same deliverables, the repositioning is critical because clients are used to paying upward of $5,000 per month for SEO or content marketing services. However, few clients pay that price point for freelance writing.
From a client’s perspective, the major difference between a service provider and a freelance writer is that the service provider is a marketing partner that can guide strategy and offer directional advice. In contrast, a freelance writer usually needs to be told what to do.
As a high-end freelance writer, you have already acquired the skills to be self-sufficient and advise the client, so this shouldn’t be too much of a shift for you. In fact, it’s quite freeing to have full reign to guide the strategy.
I should also note that while most freelance writers feel that they need to have employees under them to position themselves as SEO or content marketing providers, this is not true.
In fact, one of the main concerns that clients have with content marketing and SEO agencies is that their work is outsourced to low-end freelancers or contractors.
So you can actually use the fact that you’re a solopreneur to your advantage and actively pitch that you’re doing the strategy and execution yourself.
4. Create Your Own Marketing Funnel
Now that you have experience driving the strategy of a content marketing agency, the next step is to create an inbound marketing funnel to have a steady stream of inbound clients.
To begin your content marketing strategy, write a blog post that outlines your process and the methodology behind your approach to content marketing. This will immediately establish you as an authority, as the client can see how you think about marketing. As a result, it will be easier for potential clients to trust you and select you over competitors who don’t provide insight into the thought process behind their strategy.
Here are a few excellent examples of methodology-style posts that provide not only an overview of a specific content marketing process, but also a detailed analysis that gives you insight into how that person thinks about content marketing:
- Digital Marketing for Banks
- Content Marketing Strategy for Online Courses
- Digital Marketing Strategies for Online Education Methodology
When clients can understand your thought process, it’s much easier to understand why your process is effective and trust you as a person.
Once you’ve written about your process and methodology, the next step is to write case studies of how you’ve implemented the process to prove it’s an effective strategy.
Again, here are a handful of case study examples that prove how your process has driven outstanding results:
For most freelance consultants, this is sufficient to drive consistent inbound leads. Some freelancers choose to grow a social media following to continuously drive inbound interest.
Ashley Cummings is a great example of a freelance writer who has built a substantial following as a freelance writer:
Raise Your Freelance Writing Rates Today
Raising your rates can be scary, but you’ll find that you’ll attract better clients and be happier in the long run.
Start by pitching potential clients your new rates, and as you close enough new clients, let your existing clients know that you’re raising your rates.
As long as you continue delivering excellent work and price your services based on the value you deliver for clients, many of them will be happy to pay a higher price for your content services.
Nevertheless, it’s a challenging journey, and you might want some support from peers and mentors along the way. Therefore, we created the Copyblogger Academy, which is a membership community of other peers growing freelance writing businesses.
In addition to peer collaboration, you also have direct access to me, Tim Stoddart (someone who owns a marketing agency and various content websites). I’m happy to answer any questions you have along your journey and provide one-on-one mentorship.
I also realize that different perspectives are critical, as a slightly different viewpoint on a concept can make it click. Therefore, I also interview some of the top content creators of the day, like Steph Smith, Ethan Brooks, Chris Ducker, and others.
I could explain more about what’s inside, but the best way to figure out if the Copyblogger Academy is right for you is by signing up for it. If you don’t think it’s right for you in the first 30 days, I’ll give you a full refund (and I would love to hear your feedback!). However, I think you’ll immediately see the value of it once you jump into the platform, and a few years from today, you’ll be grateful to yourself for making the investment!
See you inside Copyblogger Academy!