Dear Anne, the email began, then described the kind of writing in question then asked:
What is the typical compensation?
I just wanted to tear my hair and shout:
THERE IS NO TYPICAL PAY FOR FREELANCE WRITERS!
Nor are their typical rates for freelance writers, nor any usual or standard hourly fees.
Any question that asks me something like that leads me to give out the How Long Is A Piece Of String Award!
Okay, that’s not fair
I’m off my high-horse now. And all questions are welcome here, truly. And I do remember wanting reassurance when I first began setting rates. Like the questioner, I did some research and discovered that at best you can locate a range of prices for a particular kind of writing.
For example, this year’s Writer’s Market says that full time freelance editors earn between $35,000 and $200,000 a year! Ghostwriting there ranges from $30 an hour to $125 – which is low. But neither set of figures, even if accurate is particularly helpful. The range is to broad.
And that’s my point when I say, even nicely, that there simply is no typical rate for writers, or, I suspect, any other freelancer.
1000 Billable Hours A Year
Most freelancers bill about 20 hours a week. Sure, you work 40 or more, but actual hours you bill or can count as time spent actually earning keeps coming out around four hours a day or 20 hours a week. And yes, some weeks you’ll work more, and some weeks less. If you take two weeks off, and you should, that comes out to 1,000 billable hours a year. Much more than that and you risk serious burnout.
How much do you want to earn? How much do you think your worth?
Try this approach. Add up all your expenses for the year, including insurance and retirement and some extra and divide that by the 1,000 hours. Now you’ve got an approximation of what you should be charging by the hour. If you want $100,000 a year you need to charge $100 an hour.
Do this two ways: with your current expenses and then with the income you wish you had. This will give you your range.
For example, if all your expenses, including benefits, taxes, retirement, etc. add up to $36,000, your bottom line rate is $36 an hour. If your goal is $60,000, which is $60 an hour, you’ve now got your range of hourly pricing – $36-$60 an hour in this example.
Yes, there’s a whole lot of flex in these numbers. You can work more or less, and charge more or less. And you will. Over time you’re rate will go up. You’ll get smarter about finding work, choosing clients, managing your time and setting your rates.
Do you see why I say there is no typical pay for writers?
How do you set your hourly rate?