How to Calculate Your Rates Part 2
In part one, we talked about some of the higher level issues to consider when you calculate your rates. If you haven’t read that one yet, click here and get yourself up to speed. That information will be useful for the second part. That being said, if you’re really impatient to have a firm number, read to the end of this, and use the online calculator i found to make it go a little quicker.
For now, it’s time to talk about real numbers.
How Will You Calculate Your Fee?
There are three primary ways to get paid as a writer:
- Per project
- Per word
- Per hour
Another option some websites use to calculate pay are page views. They might offer a base amount and give you a bonus if you hit a certain number. Others only pay once you reach a certain amount of views. While this can (eventually) be lucrative if you have the time to cultivate an audience, there’s no guarantee of payment. The other options, at least, mean you’ll make something for your work. I don’t take jobs that pay me based on views because I want money in my hand for the work I’ve done. You need to do what feels right for you.
I look at what I want to make per hour when I decide if a writing opportunity is worth what I’m being offered, but that’s not how I bill people. Personally, I prefer to bill by the project. A few of my vanilla clients ask for one blog post a week, and I charge them $200 a month. That’s $50 per post in a four week month. But that content takes me 30 minutes to write on average which means writing two articles in about an hour earns me $100 an hour. For longer content or something that requires a lot of research and time, I charge higher fees.
Many print publications only charge by the word. A few websites do too. This is great for making every word count, but editors are savvy. They won’t take fluff just to fill a word count. Some of the highest paid writing jobs I’ve ever taken were by the word. Depending on who you write for, you can make as low as $0.02 per word (please don’t take these jobs if you can help it) up to $2.00 per word.
Content mills are notorious for paying by the word, and they pay the absolute lowest rates they can. A good average is $0.05 per word. It’s lower than I prefer, but it’s reasonable. News outlets also charge per word, but they often start at $.50 to $1.00 or more per word.
This sounds great in theory, because you know exactly what you’re making each hour. And if a piece of content only takes you an hour to research, write, and edit, you’re golden. But it also means that once you get faster at creating content – and you will the longer you write – you have to take on more work to keep up your income. Plus, you have to keep up with your time which can be overwhelming.
Savvy clients will want to know why that article takes an hour or why you’re billing them $150 an hour when you’re only writing a few words. Per hour is often better for more in-depth projects that genuinely take a lot of time. But if you’re creating the same kind of content over and over again, you’re going to get faster which means it’ll take you less to time to make the same thing. The only way to keep up your income is to take even more work — which can become exhausting.
Talk to Other Writers
Talking to other writers can give you a good idea of what people charge for their work. I don’t love talking about my rates because they’re kind of fluid. But I also don’t walk around thinking, “I don’t get out of bed for less than this amount.” For me, it’s important to consider the project, the company, the potential opportunities in the future, and what my time is worth. No one will value your time as much as you do, so that should always be a factor.
That being said, I will give you some rough estimates. If my numbers seem laughably high, start a little lower and eventually you’ll probably surpass me. If you think they’re laughably low, well, good for you and teach me your secrets.
- Pitched personal essays/topics with little research – $50 to $100, depends on length
- Sponsored posts on my website – $100 to $150
- Pitched researched articles – $75 to $200, depending on length and depth of research
- Brand guides* – $200 to $500, depends on length and depth
- Social media management* – $500 – $1500 per month, based on level of work requested
Have I written and worked for less? Yes, I have. Will I write for higher? Of course!
*Both of these are new to my business – I have one client for each. Once I wrap my arms around this a bit more, I’ll share what I know.
Use a Calculator
You can always take the easy route and use a calculator. Put in the numbers you’ve figured out in part one – base salary, how much you want to work, etc. – and let an algorithm tell you the rest. You don’t have to stick with the number it tells you, but it will give you starting point.
Try this one from All Freelance Writing
Remember, once you have a rate set, you’re not stuck with it. Leave yourself open to negotiate with companies you really want to work with. Be generous with small businesses who are trying to provide good information on sex. And never forget that the relationship you build today may turn into something lucrative tomorrow.
Between part one and part two, there’s a lot here so if you’ve got questions, let me know! After reading this are you rethinking your rates? Feel free to share in the comments below!