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How Much Should I Charge? Why I Can’t Answer That Question For You

String for Freelance WritersNew and even seasoned freelance writers ask me things like “What would be a reasonable price for writer to charge for a short post, say 300-500 words (assuming some but not extensive experience) on the part of the writer?” or “How much should I charge to ghostwrite 5 articles?” or even “How much should I charge to ghostwrite a book?”

There must be something missing from my articles on setting prices!

Some how I’m failing to get the idea across that, as a freelance writer,  you’ve got to set your own fees; that there is no one price for a piece of writing and that  the amount people are willing to pay for blogs, articles, and books is all over the map.

You’ll find prices quoted for blogs from “write it for free for exposure” to $50 and even more per post. We all know there are tons of opportunities to write articles for free or for a buck or two each; but there are also opportunities to write articles that pay several thousand dollars each. Ghostwriters can collect everything from $00 and 50% of the project to $50,000 or more per book.

How Long IS A Piece Of String?

When you ask me how much you should charge for your writing you might as well be asking “how long is a piece of string anyway?”

I can’t answer because:

  • I don’t know what you do about the project. You’ve either read the ad or talked with a potential employer or gotten an email asking you price on X.
  • I don’t know how good you are.
  • I don’t know how long it would take you to do the project in question.
  • I don’t know how quickly the project needs to be done.
  • I have absolutely no idea how much you need to make an hour or a year to live reasonably well or better.
  • I don’t know what ‘reasonable rate’ means to you, only to me.

Oh sure, I could give you a range of prices, but it’s going to be such a wide range it won’t be truly useful.

You’ve Got To Set Your Own Price

You’re the one who has to shut both eyes and name a price.

You can spend 40 hours searching the web and asking on forums asking other writers about how much you should charge for a writing job and you’ll get answers. People will suggest prices like the ones above, all over the map.

And when you’re done you’ll have to decide what you’re willing to accept for the writing gig.

I can promise you the following:

  • As you set prices it will get easier.
  • No matter what price you set you’ll win some and lose some.
  • In the beginning you’re likely to under price yourself just because you don’t know what it takes to get the writing done.
  • If you keep at it you’ll discover what your real price is.
  • Once you discover your real price you’ll begin to get comfortable asking for it.
  • And when you get comfortable asking for your real price you’ll be amazed at how often you find people willing to pay it.

Maybe the way to say it is to state that pricing is an art. It sure isn’t science!

How do you set your prices?


Image from http://www.sxc.hu

{ 4 comments… add one }
  • In the end, it comes down to knowing three things:

    1. What you need to earn at a bare minimum to make ends meet
    2. Whether or not your credentials are strong enough to allow you to charge significantly more than that minimum (or even that minimum itself)
    3. Your target market (and making sure the people you’re targeting also fall into the group that can afford the rates you set)

    Those three things will vary from one writer to the next. As much as no writer should feel like they have to undercut themselves just because others do, it’s just as important to realize you shouldn’t charge a specific higher rate just because someone else can either. Your skills, experience, and other credentials are probably quite different.

    I had one writer not long ago who decided to bypass all the tools I made available to them to help them figure out their own rates, and instead just copy mine. I had more than a decade on them in experience, a degree related to my specialty area (they didn’t), and was writing for a completely different market. It was one of those situations where all I could do was shake my head and feel badly for them. I look at it this way — the ones who want you to spoon feed them everything are the ones who really aren’t ready yet to handle the risk side of running their own business. Learning the hard way (which this writer did) is sometimes the best thing that can happen.
    .-= Jenn Mattern´s last blog ..The Book and Audio Plays are Now on All Freelance Writing =-.

  • Excellent advice Anne, thanks for the extra tips. I was pricing way too low for awhile there, but thanks to some feedback from a client I have raised my prices. Seems there are quite a few factors to consider, thanks.
    .-= Christopher´s last blog ..The Truth About Duplicate Content =-.

    • Anne

      Christopher, I think most of us start by charging way less than we should… the trick is not to stay there.

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