How Much Should I Charge For My Freelance Writing?
Unless you write only for love, money is an issue
One of the most often asked questions is "what should I charge for my writing?" This really is what I call a 'how long is a piece of string' question. That's because there isn't any single answer, or if there is, it's something like, 'whatever the traffic will bear.'
Which isn't very helpful. Here are some things to consider when you're setting a rate or asked to quote a writing project:
What, exactly, is the writing project?
It's amazing how often inexperienced writers will begin a project without understanding its nature. There is a huge
difference between, say, a 1,000 word essay based on your personal experience, and a 5,000 word interview with a politician, or a 60,000 ghostwritten book. Each command a different rate, and much of that rate depends on how and where it will be published.
How much writing experience do you have?
Obviously, someone with decades of experience writing in the field will command more money than a rank beginner. You also need to consider how your writing experience applies, if at all, to the current project. Again, the more experience, the higher the rate.
What rights are involved and who will end up with them?
In theory, the more rights you sell, the higher the rate should be. On the other hand, if you sell only the first North American serial rights and you think you have a good shot at selling the piece in Europe or elsewhere, or in the reprint market, you may be willing to charge less.
If you're ghostwriting, you may not acquire any rights at all, so set your fee accordingly.
What about research and expenses?
In addition to time, research can include everything from long distance phone calls to trips to interview an expert. Expenses like these can add up in a hurry, so be sure you know who is going to pay for what.
How long will it take you to write it?
The time it will take you to write the project is often the key in determining the final rate. It's also often the most difficult to determine. For long projects I like to do a sample on spec, maybe two or three pages, and actually time myself. I also make sure to include time for revisions and, if applicable will limit the number of revisions to two or three.
What's the going rate for this type of project?
Each year Writers Market has a section about how much writers get paid for various types of writing. The information is gathered from around the country. It's a good place to start. Asking on forums like ours and others is also a good way to get a feel for pricing.
Of course, many magazines and other publications state their rates in advance. These are also negotiable, so use them as a guide only.
And sometimes, you just have to pluck a number out of the air and go from there.
Write well and often and charge well too!