The Right Price For Writing

A lot of writers hem and haw if you ask them about their rates. I’ve often thought that we consider how much we charge a state secret. The truth is that we think announcing a set rate is going to lose us business. Furthermore, we all make exceptions on a regular basis: if we think we can get more on a project, we ask for it. And, sadly, if we find ourselves in need of work — any work — we’ll accept a rate below our usual amount just to keep money coming in.

What Your Rate Needs To Be

I’m going to be painfully honest here. If you want to make a comfortable living off your writing — afford health insurance, put away money for retirement and cover your daily expenses — you need to be making about $50. There’s a lot of fudge factors in that number, admittedly. If you live in a country with a lower cost of living, you can afford to earn far less. If you have a spouse who can provide you with health insurance, you can afford to earn far less. If you have eight solid hours of work a day and you don’t have to go looking for gigs regularly, you can afford to earn far less.

But $50 is the comfort zone. That’s actually not that far off from what the Editorial Freelancers Association suggests for freelance rates:

What About Me?

In general, I try to make sure that I hit that $50 value for each hour that I work. It doesn’t always happen, but I keep it in mind as a goal. It’s also one of the reasons that I work hard on creating passive income streams — if I have money coming in from other sources, I can afford to pass by the poorer paying gigs and focus on chasing the big dollar projects. Those projects that payout $50+ aren’t low-hanging fruit, after all. There’s likely to be prep work necessary to land them (such as estimates and proposals) that you can’t always afford to take time for if you are still working on the lower end of the pay spectrum.

6 Comments

  1. Celine   •  

    I also try to hit that $50/hour rate, if not through the rate itself (some clients have a bottom line that might not agree with ymine), then I try to get to that $50/hour through my efficiency. Since I live in the Philippines, I can live on less, but I try not to charge less. I know the value of my work. (If some people really want the $2/hour writers, then by all means they can hire those. They’re plentiful!)

    Thanks for this article. I should keep your points in mind during times when I need more work, but can’t seem to get a client who pays well.

  2. thursday   •     Author

    @Celine Your mention of efficiency is an excellent point. I’ll happily take on writing blog posts for $25 a piece — as long as I can write two posts in an hour. I’ve found that most of my clients base their estimates of the time it will take them to write a project. That’s fair, but I’ve found that I can write a bit faster than people who don’t spend their whole day glued to a keyboard.

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  6. Isaac Yassar   •  

    Hi, I’m Isaac Yassar and I help people reaching success in self development, business, and blogging for free.

    Yes, $50 per hour is a steep target, reachable by hard work and skill only. Problem is, do we got what it takes?

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