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Setting Freelance Rates – Ask Anne The Pro Writer

Hi Anne,

I was just wondering if you could direct me where I can info about setting rates.

Apparently the info is a bit scarce due to anti-trust laws?



Hi TK,

How freelance writers and editors can set rates is a question I get in one form or another at least a couple of times a month. Which is good. I love getting paid well and want you to be well paid too.

I don’t think the seeming scarcity of specific rate information is due to anti-trust laws. Do we have any anti-trust laws any more? (Sigh, that’s a whole other topic.)

Rather, I think, it’s because those rates are all over the map. For example, I base my ghostwriting and coaching fees on between $125 and $150 an hour. But you will find ghostwriters at least way lower and quite a bit higher than me. I’m not sure about writing coaches, but I suspect my rates are maybe a bit above average there too. 

Of course, I didn’t start there; I’ve been writing and charging for it for years and years.

That said, we have a whole series of articles about setting fees that so far includes:

When all is said and done, however, you’ve got to pick a number you’re reasonably comfortable with and start asking for that. Done with confidence you may be pleasantly surprised to find people actually pay you that much.
Good luck.



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{ 14 comments… add one }
  • I have seen people on online job sites offering sums like $2 for a blog article; or less than $10 an hour for ghostwriting, and I cannot believe it. What I really can’t believe is they’ll have 8 or more people sending in bids for the job! I have written to some of these people to tell them they are paying less than minimum wage; they are! It’s so insulting, and I can’t figure out how they get away with it. Then I want to ask for $8000 to ghost-write a 300-page book and they tell me I’m crazy!

    I thought we writers were underpaid back when print dominated and I’d get say $100 for an 800-word newspaper story. Now I look back at the good ole days. I just don’t understand why they undervalue our work, and, worse, writers undervalue their own work. I appreciate that you aren’t doing that.
    Marcy Sheiner recently posted..Ghostwriting: How It Works Part IIMy Profile

    • They get away with it because there are folks willing to work at those low rates… most of them, however, are not great writers and the people hiring them often begin to realize they have to pay for quality.

  • Jorge, I discussed your concerns in another post on this site – Anne may be recall where it is – in which I described the steps I take to protect myself. It’s good advice.


  • admin

    Matthew, great link. Of course I had to get google to translate pounds to dollars (omg!) and it does seem as if the UK is lower than the U.S. – but I also suspect there’s a lot of flex.

    Ghostwriting a non-fiction book costs between $5,000US and $50,000US on up. Magazine writing here runs from no-pay to $2US a word or more, and so it goes. Corporate writing can pay like mad. So much is in the writer’s willingness to ask.

    Isaac, I’m going to write about my view of competition…

    Jorge, oh yes, they’ve got to pay or it doesn’t count. I ask for a third or half up front of some other form of upfront payment. I’ll write about that too… good question.

  • Okay, all good stuff. But there’s a lot more than rates to the equation. The rate doesn’t matter if the client doesn’t actually pay the rate or backs out before the job is finished. How does the writer protect him/herself? To be very specific, what do you use for a contract?

    jorgekafkazar’s last blog post..Stranded in Mexico

  • Isaac

    Good advice. I think it’s so hard to stay competitve and still make a dime.

    Isaac’s last blog post..Interview with David Morrell, author of First Blood and other works

  • I guess another tip is to ask around. Some freelance writers are nice enough to let others know the rates they have so the newer ones get an idea of how much they should get paid as well.

    Imee’s last blog post..Kroger Employment

  • Price = the best compromise between a willing buyer and a willing seller.

    Of course, it’s easy to say that. Anne has some great posts on the subject.

    There’s also a website in the UK from the National Union of Journalists which has a ‘rate for the job’ guide. This is helpful (if a little dispiriting): http://www.londonfreelance.org/rates/.

    Matthew Stibbe’s last blog post..Recommended links 17 April 2009

  • Thanks, Anne. Great list of links.

    Trina L. Grant | Professional Freelance Writer’s last blog post..Brand Your Writing: Finding Your Style

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