While searching for writing gigs, you may have come across content mills where offers like $2/100 words are commonplace.
And you might be a little disappointed or heartbroken. How could a writer accept those rates, write a good quality article, and support themselves and their family with that income?
Surprisingly, people accept such rates, not hesitating to race to the bottom. Good for you if you are doing it as a hobby, but writing articles at such low rates to make a living?
Accepting low-paid gigs and quoting low rates for your services is not sustainable. It works against you.
You get a pass for accepting low-paying gigs if you are a new writer trying to dabble with freelancing. Maybe, you will get some great samples under your belt in the process. And hopefully, you will understand that continually accepting low-paying gigs upsets health and work-life balance quickly.
How Much Should You Charge?
Well, how much do you want to make? And how many HEALTHY hours can you work in a day?
How much do you need per month to cover expenses + save + enjoy little things in life?
Living below means and having a job definitely helps. You ought to make at least enough to cover your living expenses, eat good food, and have some savings for emergencies.
You can charge per hour, per project, or word.
Let’s say you want to make $40/hour. You can complete the project and bill the client for the number of hours you worked on the project. If you worked 5 hours, you would charge $200. In this case, your client will be hoping that you finish the work as soon as possible.
Now, you know that completing such and such project takes you 5 hours. So, you can quote $200 for your next client before starting on the project. It removes uncertainty from clients’ minds because they know exactly how much they would be paying you.
The third option is the per-word pricing. You can charge for blog posts, ebooks, and other long-form content by the word. It does not work where more thinking and less writing is required, e.g., social media content, sales copy, email copy, brochures, etc. You can spend 2-3 hours researching, editing, and yet the final piece can contain only 100-200 words.
If you are writing a 1000 words long blog post, you will need to charge 20cents/word to make $200 in 5 hours.
Other factors affecting your pricing include; your experience, your target customer, and your portfolio.
Don’t get stuck, though. Join a community on FB or Reddit and ask how much someone at your experience level should charge. Don’t be shy!
You’re Killing Your Freelance Writing Career by Charging Less
It’s simply not sustainable. Like a real business, you need money for:
- Trucking through down seasons
- Delivering a quality product
Here are some of the reasons behind charging reasonably for your freelance services.
1. You Need to Save
EVERY freelance writer experiences feast and famine seasons. You can lose clients due to no fault of your own. And suddenly, if a major source of your income (i.e., your favorite client) disappears, you need some savings to fall back on until you find other sources of income.
Have at least 2 to 3 month’s worth of savings so that you can work on finding a job/part-time job/freelance writing client without freaking out.
Hiring a freelance writer offers huge convenience to clients. They can send as much or as little work they like. And you have to bear the brunt of providing this convenience to your clients. So, charge enough and start saving.
2. It’s a Race Against Time
Writing an article requires research. The more factually correct information you want to include, the more research you need to do.
Low pay forces you to write half-baked articles. You won’t have much time to research, organize your thoughts, write and sleep over it.
Pretty soon, you will burn out. Writing continuously for hours is not fun. Trust me.
I feel drunk and unable to make rational decisions after writing for more than 4 hours.
3. You Can’t Save for Courses
Consistently learning and investing in yourself is crucial for climbing the career ladder in writing (freelance or in-house).
Some courses will teach you the writing aspect, and others will touch on the business aspect.
Keep in mind that you absolutely DO NOT need a course to start your career as a freelance writer. There’s enough information available on the internet that will help you select your niche, decide your rates, find clients and deliver good content to your clients.
Once you get experienced with freelance writing, you will know whether you need to invest in a course or not. Having the money available to pay for a worthy course without thinking twice is priceless.
4. No Time To Practice and Try New Things
You can take a lot of different paths as a freelance writer. You can try content writing, creative writing, or copywriting. There are a variety of projects you can work on as a freelance writer.
If you spend all your time writing blog posts, you won’t have time to try video scriptwriting, podcast show-notes, newsletters, product descriptions, etc.
5. It’s All About the Hourly Rate
Being paid only $20/1000 words makes sense only if you write 1000 words under an hour. However, it’s virtually impossible to research and write a 1000-word article that shines a light on your opinions about the topic.
Honestly, I would happily accept a gig that pays me $20 for half an hour of work. But that’s never the case.
6. You Won’t Be Delivering Quality Work
Rushing a project and writing an article in a zoned-out state will not produce results that will make you proud.
While quoting a price to a client, factor in the complexity of the topic, the time you will take to research. Otherwise, you will be working in an anxious state of mind, and it’s not very conducive to delivering quality work.
Charge Reasonably (for Your Career’s Sake)
Being underpaid will leave a bad taste in your mouth for freelancing. And you will be left wondering why so many people sing praises of freelancing as a viable career.
Freelancing’s worth lies in being able to live outside of the laptop. And charging peanuts won’t give you that freedom.
Decide the minimum figure you want to make per month, and then keep learning so that you double, triple, or quadruple your income. Hop on to job boards and see how much companies are paying in-house writers who are at your level. Ask around in freelancing groups on FB or Reddit.