How to Calculate Your Rates Part 1

I started writing this piece and realized I had 1500 words written with more to say. While I’m probably gaining a reputation around here for being a bit…wordy (pardon the bad pun), I don’t want to overwhelm you either. Calculating your rates is a big job. It’s not set in stone, and you can (and should) adjust over time. But if you’ve never given your rates much thought beyond accepting whatever is offered, it’s time to think a bit bigger.

In part one (of two) on calculating your rates, let’s look at the different factors to consider as you decide how much you want and need to make as a sex writer.

Consider Your Experience

Are you a complete unknown as a professional writer? Are you still using clips from your personal sex blog as proof of your writing skills? When you’re new, you’re not going to command the super high rates you really want at the beginning. You don’t have any negotiating power…yet. When a publication tells you their rate of pay, you have to have compelling reasons why you deserve more. Once you’ve been writing for a while, you’ll be able to say, “I’m so sorry, but I can’t accept that.” This won’t mean you don’t take the writing gig, only that you’ll negotiate another payment amount.

Consider Your Expenses

Your expenses will depend on whether you’re still working a full-time job or have another main source of income that keeps the mortgage paid and the lights on – or not. When those basics are covered, you have a lot more leeway. But, if like me, you’re self-employed and have to earn a full-time living from your writing, everything counts.

  • Basic living expenses – mortgage/rent, car payment, groceries, utilities, debt, childcare, etc
  • Emergencies – car repair, vet care, doctor’s visits
  • Taxes – for a full-time income, about a third of what you make will be needed to pay your taxes
  • Savings – when you work for yourself, there are no retirement accounts

How Much Do You Want to Make?

You know what you need to make either per month or per year, but how much do you want to make? That’s a real, tangible number to consider and a great goal to work towards. You might not get to it in the first couple of years, but you’ll have something to aim for. It’s only been in the last year that I’ve started to give myself annual goals – $40,000 this year, $50,000 next year. Before that I told myself I wanted to make more than the month before.

How Many Hours Will You Work?

Is this a full-time gig or a side hustle? The amount of time you can commit directly factors into your rate. If you can only commit to an hour a day, that’s $100,000 goal might be out of reach. But if you work 40 hours a week (ask any freelancer, in reality it’s often more), you have a better chance.

Consider What’s Being Offered

This isn’t a perfect science but factor in what’s being offered when you first start out to determine your earliest rates. If adult websites offer you $50 per article or blog post, that’s a good starting point. If you manage to get higher rates or negotiate your way up, use those rates as your base. Most kink websites I write for start at $50 per post so, for the most part, that’s where I start my pricing, too. But since I want to make more than that, I have to factor in time, research, resources, and how big the company is. I’m going to request a higher amount from a company who should be able to afford it – as long as I can back up my higher fee with excellent work.

Choose the Rate that Makes You Uncomfortable

You actually don’t want to be Goldilocks here. If it feels like the exact perfect rate and doesn’t make you uncomfortable, it’s probably too low. Some rates are so high they’re laughable. Think of the dollar amount that makes you say, “Oh, I’m not sure. Would someone really pay that?” Here’s the reality – not everyone will, but if you’re a good writer, yes, someone will accept your rate. And remember, you can always negotiate.

Will You Get a Byline?

Ghostwriting is a legitimate type of writing gig, but it comes with a clear downside – you can’t use it to get yourself more work. Your name isn’t anywhere on it. Because you lose this bit of name recognition, you can usually charge a higher amount in return. Don’t go crazy – you’re not going to double your rate here, but it can definitely be factored into your rates on a project by project basis.

As you begin to think about your rates, do your research and figure out what you need and what you want to make. Once you have that, in part two, you’ll be able to start playing with real numbers.

Read Part 2

This is a lot to take in, I know. Are you surprised (so far) by what you need to consider in figuring out your rate? Have you set your rates and now have something new to think about? Share in the comments below!

Kayla Lords

Kayla Lords is a freelance sex writer, podcaster, blogger, all-around sex content creating human, and she really likes creating content. As a writer, she focuses on sex and kink primarily on BDSM and power exchange. She works with private clients to write their content and manage their social media, while also co-hosting two podcasts, running a YouTube channel, and managing multiple blogs. Let's just say, she stays busy and wants to keep it that way. Kayla is an international speaker and an award-winning sex blogger. She believes we are stronger together as a community than we are isolated and apart. We all deserve to get paid for the work we do, but until we understand our cumulative power, we'll all wonder if we're "the only one" doing this smutlancing thing.

2 Responses

  1. Quinn Rhodes says:

    I currently have an email in my inbox that asks me my rates for a type of work that I never considered doing but am VERY confident that I could do, plus my rates for ghost writing which I’ve never done before. (They’re also asking my rates for something that is a hard limit because of my anonymity, and knowing that I’m just going to say that I can’t do that and not worry that I “should” be saying yes to everything is kind of amazing?) I’ve had a few friends tell me recently that I need to raise my rates, so I’m definitely going to be applying your “choose the rate that makes you uncomfortable” advice in my reply. Thank you for reminding me of the things that go into calculating your rates – and for all of your content, which continually reminds me of my WORTH as a writer.

    • Kayla Lords says:

      I’m glad the site/this article can help with setting your rates! And that you’re getting more comfortable with the idea of turning down work that’s not right for you.

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