There’s a great article by a favorite writer about writing of mine, Sharon Hurley Hall, called How to Change the Conversation about What Your Writing is Worth.
It’s part of Lori Widmer’s annual Writers Worth Month celebration – Lori’s another of my favorites and I particularly like her Writers Worth Month.
In the article Sharon mentions a few of the places she used to determine what she should charge for her writing. While those and other resources can be used, looking at them reminded me that there simply is no such thing as a standard rate for writing.
No standard rate for writing – really!
Here’s what I mean. In the 2015 Writers Market said the freelance writers and editors make from $35,000 to $200,000 a year. That’s a huge range, representing all sorts of writing and all sorts of rates for writing.
When you check their chart that breaks down high/low and average costs for various types of writing you get more variation. For example, for the category “Advertising Copywriting” it lists hourly rates from a low of $35 an hour to a high of $150; projects range from $2,278 up to $9000. They also note that per word costs run from 25 cents per word to $3.00 per word.
There’s no way to turn this kind of information into a meaningful standard.
These stats are gathered up every year by polling writers and editors. Every kind of writing list tends to have this kind of variation. And I’ll bet it wouldn’t take long to find writers who charged noticeably less for the low end and considerably more than the high end named.
Who likes standard rates for writing?
Clients like the idea of standard rates for say a press release ($97 – $180 per hour; $1,000 – $5,000 per project and 50 cents to $2.00 a word) because it makes them feel safe. They know they won’t look foolish in front of a colleague who paid less than they did for what appears to be the same service. So called standard rates are also easier to budget for.
Magazine editors of course can set standard rates – and most magazines do. Did you know those prices are often negotiated upward by writers who have more clout? It’s always worth asking if you can get more – sometimes you’ll be delightfully surprised.
Writers new to the game yearn for standard rates because it’s much easier than figuring out what they need to earn (over at AllIndieWriters Jenn Mattern has published both a free hourly rate calculator and a free project rate calculator. I think you’ll like her approach.
The charts can get you into trouble. Years ago I was asked what to charge for a press release. I quoted the then current range listed in Writers Market. The client said something like “I’ve never heard of Writers Market. I’ll pay you $xx a release.” He’d never heard of it and there was no reason for him to have heard of it.
Set your own rates
When you combine that information of rate ranges with a realistic understanding of what you need to pay your bills and for some of your wants, you begin to have the information you need to set your own rates.
That’s right, you need to set your own standard rates for writing.
What you charge has absolutely nothing to do with what others charge. Oh sure, it won’t hurt to look, particularly if it helps you realize you’re worth more as a writer than you thought.
Have you decided on your own standard write for writing? If not, why not? Tell us about it in comments.
Write well and often,
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