Leaving Work Behind

How Much Should Freelance Writers Charge Per Word?

Written by Tom Ewer on May 18, 2015. 82 Comments

Quarter dollarMost beginner freelance writers have no idea what they should charge per word.

I know this because I recently put the word out that I was looking for freelance bloggers to work with me, and I received quotes (per word) from one rupee (that’s about $0.02) to to one dollar.

I’ll start by ruling out the extremes for freelance bloggers: you shouldn’t be working for any less than $0.02 per word, but nor can you reasonably hope to work for anything close to a dollar per word.

But where on earth should you be in-between those numbers?

In my experience, there’s a broad range: between $0.03 and $0.25 per word.

When I started as a freelance blogger in 2011 (writing for what is now the WPMU DEV blog), I was paid $20 per hour. Based on the speed at which I worked (which seems to be pretty fast by most people’s standards), I was earning about $0.03 per word at best. But that was fine, because I was just getting established, my skills weren’t top notch, and I had a lot to learn.

The most I have ever charged a client is $0.25, although that’s far higher than my average (which I’m afraid I will not reveal!).

Could you charge more than that? I reckon you could, for more technical, in-depth topics. But the way I have succeeded as a freelance writing is in blogging on topics that (a) I know a lot about, and (b) don’t require an insane amount of research/work to write about. With that approach, a relatively low rate per word can actually result in excellent hourly rates.

Speaking of hourly rates, that range of $0.03 to $0.25 should pocket you something between $15 and $150 per hour. Not too shabby by most people’s measures, and it should dispel the argument that working at the lower end of the writing spectrum is below minimum wage.

You may be wondering about job opportunities – do they match the range I prescribe? If we take the listings we feature on Paid to Blog Jobs, although I don’t have the averages to hand, opportunities are generally available between $0.03 and $0.10. You’ll have none lower than $0.03 as a general rule, but you will get some over $0.10 (although they tend to be outliers). As a general rule, if you want to earn top dollar, you need to pitch clients directly (or have them find you) rather than rely on jobs boards.

I’ll finish with one final piece of advice: don’t get too misty-eyed at the thought of earning $0.10, $0.15, or even more per word. Is it possible to earn that much? Absolutely. Is it a challenging journey? Yep. Do I encourage you to go for it? Absolutely – but be realistic about the time and effort it will take to get to the ‘top’.

That aside, the good news is that $0.05 to $0.10 per word equates to very a healthy hourly rate, on which one can live very comfortably – especially if you work on your speed and efficiency.

Care to share your thoughts on freelance blogging rates? Let us know what you think below!

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82 Responses to “How Much Should Freelance Writers Charge Per Word?”

  1. Mayur Mistry
    May 18, 2015 at 1:49 pm

    Nice one Tom! And thanks for answering my question from one of your previous posts ;).

  2. Nina
    May 18, 2015 at 1:53 pm

    To be honest, I was never a fan of charging by the word. First, I really hate math and it takes me a long time to figure out ( I know calculators are handy, but I digress). I like the idea of charging a flat rate and providing value. Hence, if I write X amount of articles and place them on your website, you will get more traffic, sales, etc, etc. Right now, I have a 1k (USD) a month client who I am charging $20 per article. While some may think that is a low rate, it’s not for me. First, each article takes less than 30 minutes to write, doesn’t require a lot of research, and are very simple. Also, I am offering a bulk rate because I am writing a couple of hundred of these over the course of a few short months. For me, offering a flat rate is much easier.

    • Tom Ewer
      May 20, 2015 at 1:57 pm

      I understand where you’re coming from, but for me, the number of words you write is a good base point to start with when determining your rate, and also sets clear expectations in the client’s mind. Definitely the route I would advocate.

  3. Iva
    May 18, 2015 at 2:10 pm

    Thank you so much for clearing the fog for me Tom!! I’m still a relatively new freelancer and I’ve always struggled with this. I get it now!

    Peace and love
    Iva

  4. Randy Brown
    May 18, 2015 at 2:18 pm

    Hi Tom,

    Thanks for these numbers! It’s hard to find honest numbers about freelance writing. A lot are unrealistic. I started my freelance writing biz last September. I intended to write for corporate, but a ghostwriting blogging opportunity fell in my lap, so I’ve stuck with it. I’ve gone from the bottom end of that range to the middle in just a few months. If I could get faster I could make a nice living from it. I’m a fast writer when it comes to topics I’m very familiar with, but most of the articles require a lot of research. I’m starting to get more knowledge in the field (WordPress, etc) so I’m getting faster. Thanks for the link about speed and efficiency. It’s not always about getting more per word, but writing more in less time.

  5. Gina Horkey
    May 18, 2015 at 2:35 pm

    I like charging by the article too, but it is loosely based on a per word fee. I used to quote a range of $.10-30/word and now won’t accept anything under $75 per post. Although, I started with $20 articles, just like anyone else:-) Start somewhere and then raise your rates over time. Don’t underestimate your worth!

    • Eileen
      August 18, 2015 at 2:51 am

      Thank you for the feedback Gina.. I truly want to grow my own blog for both ecommerce and a mode of expression to connect and inspire globally BUT gain relevant experience on other sites that interest me to of course make income while improving my skills and network.

      Thank you for the encouragement.

      Best,

      Eileen

  6. Stefanie @ The Broke and Beautiful Life
    May 18, 2015 at 2:41 pm

    Just wrote about this- my lowest rate was around $25/30 for 500 words when I started. Highest is a dollar per word. http://thebrokeandbeautifullife.com/freelancers-should-talkpay/

  7. Alicia Rades
    May 18, 2015 at 2:47 pm

    I think it’s important to realize here that there are a lot of different types of jobs you can have as a freelance writer. It sounds like you’re talking mostly blogging rates, where $1 per word would be pretty ridiculous, but I know some magazine writers and journalists get paid that much because those articles require a lot more time commitment and research, especially if you’re conducting interviews.

    That being said, I personally think $0.03 per word for blogging content is really low. Other types of content, like product descriptions, perhaps not.

    As far as blogging content goes, $0.10 per word is pretty reasonable assuming you have some experience and are a decent writer. I know plenty of bloggers who charge more, but personally my rates hover around $0.10 per word, and I would encourage others to shoot for that range as well.

    BUT there are so many other factors that go into it. What type of work are you doing, what are your qualifications, and how much income do you need to live off of?

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Tom! I like having the reassurance from an expert that my rates are in a good range.

  8. Bob
    May 18, 2015 at 3:12 pm

    I think one of the problems is people charging too little. The job boards are full of people wanting top quality. well researched articles and wanting to pay $10- $20. The least I have worked for is $45 for a 500 word article which is .09 per word. I think the key is to pitch to clients that are willing to pay decent rates not in answering ads from those that don’t.

    • Tom Ewer
      May 28, 2015 at 10:09 am

      I agree Bob, although I don’t think that the problem is people charging too little – the problem is people dealing with the wrong clients.

      • Ankisha
        January 9, 2016 at 8:13 pm

        Great article, but the question is- where would I find a job that pays well.

        I mean, I live in India, and most of the clients here pay nowhere near the lowest rate you mentioned in your post, i.e $3 per word.

        • Prianca
          October 30, 2016 at 11:02 am

          Hello there, my name is Prianca. and I want a content writer.
          could you please share your content writing rates with me its because I want someone reliable who can check my manuscript.
          Please share your content writing rates.
          Thank you.

  9. Debashish
    May 18, 2015 at 3:34 pm

    Fantastic post, Tom! Finally, a concrete answer to an evergreen question!

    I like this short, actionable post strategy.

  10. Annette Brown
    May 19, 2015 at 12:41 pm

    Tom, thanks for this post.

    As a new freelance writer it is difficult to gauge rates. The low end of the range you listed is a bit scary. I think that $0.03 per word is too close to the rates earned on sites like Text Broker. I was paid $7.70 for a 550 word article ($0.014/word) that I thoroughly researched. It was well written and accepted right away, which leads me to believe that that rate is far below what I could be potentially earning.

    I understand that we have to begin somewhere but slaving away for $0.03 per word seems to be a very low starting point. My goal is to build a career, so I don’t think that charging close to $0.10 per word is unrealistic, especially if your writing is pretty decent. Any lower than that feels depressing. As Alicia stated, the final rate will vary by circumstance and type of writing, so I am flexible with my rates. And as Bob pointed out, I think I need to learn how to pitch higher-paying clients directly. I’ve had little success on job boards.

    You mentioned that we should, “be realistic about the time and effort it will take to get to the ‘top’.” What is a realistic time frame to begin earning $0.10 a word and more per writing assignment?

    Thanks again

    • Tom Ewer
      May 28, 2015 at 10:13 am

      Hey Annette,

      As someone who has earned around $0.03 per word, I really don’t see it as “slaving away”.

      It’s all a function of how long it takes you to write the post. If you spend three hours on a 500 word post at $0.03 per word, you need to have a discussion with the client, because the job isn’t economical. If however you can write up an 800 word post in 40 minutes (which I used to do at around $0.03 per word), you can make the equivalent of $36 per hour, which I for one was absolutely delighted with.

  11. Daryl
    May 19, 2015 at 2:22 pm

    From my experience, most writers won’t be able to make anywhere near a decent income for writing for less than $0.05 per word. This is taking into account the need for research, writing, organizing, proof reading and possible later edits to the document. Not to mention miscellaneous expenses like the time it takes to find new gigs, healthcare, taxes, etc.

    There are, of course, exceptions to the rule – I wouldn’t encourage someone to turn down a an offer slightly below that if they have NO clips in that niche and are trying to break into that field, or if the articles can be done extremely quickly then fine. But you don’t want to set the bar too low, or else it can also affect you pretty badly!

  12. Mariana
    May 20, 2015 at 9:55 pm

    Timely post Tom! I’m learning to be flexible (to an extent) with my rates for different types of projects. Especially as I try to build up a more expertise knowledge in the niches I’m interested in writing for.

  13. Joe
    May 21, 2015 at 5:29 pm

    Tom,

    What’s your approach to getting all your clients on the same rate? Or do you keep working with older clients on a lower rate, while taking on newer clients at a higher rate? Or drop the older, low paying ones in favour of the new ones?

    As an aside, I find I get a bit nervous when I land a new client at a higher rate, as it feels like its too much money for some words on a blog, and I expect it to end as its too good to be true.

    Not that my rates are that high or anything!

    Joe

    • Tom Ewer
      May 28, 2015 at 10:15 am

      I wouldn’t necessarily get all clients on the same rate – it depends on how intensive each job is.

      My approach is to generally impose a rate increase across the board, as even if you lose a client or two, you tend to make a great of it up in total.

      • Cami Hostetler
        July 11, 2016 at 8:26 am

        How about 1$ per 100 words ghostwriting. Just starting out? And supposedly the articles are to be 5,000-10,000 words. Is that decent?

        • Jennifer
          August 22, 2016 at 12:45 am

          Hi, Cami,
          In my experience, that is an extremely low rate. That means you’ll be making $10 per 1,000 words. Personally, I never accept jobs that pay less than $30 per 1,000 words, and even that’s very low–but I write fast when there’s little to no research involved. Even if you’re new, you still have something valuable to offer or someone wouldn’t be offering to pay you 🙂

  14. lisa Byrne
    May 24, 2015 at 12:53 pm

    great stuff Tom- thanks for the share!

  15. Todd Prepsky
    May 27, 2015 at 10:45 pm

    I would suggest checking the latest version of Writer’s Market before you quote a job. There’s a chart where you can see highs, lows, and averages for various types of writing. It’s pretty specific, and you can see per-word rates as well as hourly and per-page rates. From what I’ve read here, I think many of you are charging far, far below what you’re worth. And I mean shockingly far. I’d underline “shockingly” if I could.

    Don’t be lulled into accepting cheap work. Potential employers are going to test you by offering a pittance. If you accept it, you’re telling them that’s all you’re worth. You wouldn’t accept the first salary offered for a full-time job, would you? Of course not. What if you were a plumber and you had a specific rate, and someone said to you, “I’ll only pay you this much to re-pipe my house.”? You’d say, “No, this is what I charge for re-piping a house.”

    Don’t be afraid to negotiate or even turn work down if you have to. There’s plenty of it elsewhere. You have a skill that not many can do well, and people will always need you somewhere. Have confidence and exploit that!

    • Tom Ewer
      May 28, 2015 at 10:23 am

      Hi Todd,

      While I appreciate the spirit of your message, I think people have to be realistic. I started off at what a lot of people seem to consider an uneconomically low rate (although it wasn’t), and grew from there. I started with no experience, qualifications or samples, so I had to work from the ground up. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with doing this, and I would hate anyone to be turned off or intimidated by the notion of quoting high rates from the get go.

      To a great extent, the freelance writing market is sat in the past, thinking that the only way to make a living is to charge a dollar a word. Most freelance writers still haven’t woken up to the reality that you can make a very good living at an absolute fraction of that rate by creating blog posts on topics you are familiar with (and thus can write quickly).

      Also, I don’t take the cynical view that all clients will ‘test’ you by offering a pittance. In my experience, most clients (above content mill standard) will ask you what your rate is, rather than make you an offer. We shouldn’t hate clients for wanting to pay less than you quote; that’s just a sign that you need to move onto other prospects.

      Cheers,

      Tom

  16. Elna Cain
    May 31, 2015 at 4:36 am

    Tom,

    Great post! It’s hard to find freelance writers lay it all out there!

    For me, I lucked out and scored a great blogging gig at over $.10/word.

    But, I have other clients I charge only $.5/word because the topic is easy and it takes me 30 minutes or less to write.

    I feel you have to look at each writing gig before you set a rate. Will it be ghostwritten? Technical? Short? Long? Will it require images? screen shots?

    I try, though, to always increase my rate with every new client I land until I find my sweet spot.

    Elna

  17. Salman Nasir
    June 20, 2015 at 2:41 am

    Hello mate. Great to view this as someone who is about to kick start his writing career. I am thrilled to know writing career offers such a brilliant pathway. Just a shame i didn’t know about it till now. Anyway, better late than never.

    Just needed your opinion on a few things. Would be of great help. What should my starting rate be as I am beginner? Secondly, where can i get free lance work? I really need to know. Would be lucky if someone in the comments section would hire me 😉 Haha.

  18. Cupcakes
    July 8, 2015 at 7:02 pm

    Alright, now I realize that I was being underpaid most of the time, (and it’s embracing).. Thanks for the advice and now we have better ideas about how much to charge!

  19. Shane Sorensen
    July 22, 2015 at 11:12 pm

    Thanks for this wonderful post! I am starting to do more freelance blogging gigs, and as I break into it I am always unsure what to post as a realistic answer when they ask you what you charge. I do not want to undervalue my time, but at the same time- like you- a 30$+ per hour is more than acceptable to me at the moment. While I would love to make 50-75 or more, if I can find the time to work a few hours per day and bring in 50-60$ extra dollars cash, then that works for me. Thanks again for this awesome article!

  20. Lizzie
    August 12, 2015 at 8:20 am

    Love the honesty in this Tom! I read so many freelancing blogs and hear so many people in FB forums say that anyone who accepts less than $0.50 per word is ruining the industry. Everyone has to start somewhere though, and it’s down to us as individuals to ascertain a rate that works for us, not anybody else!

  21. James
    August 21, 2015 at 8:25 pm

    My questions is about a huge essay – say 50,000 words. Isn’t that somehow harder than doing a few pages here-and-there? I feel like I need to charge substantially more.

    Any thoughts?

    • Tom Ewer
      September 13, 2015 at 4:58 pm

      That’s a very difficult question to answer James. One could argue that having to come up with new ideas every 1,000 words and restart the writing process is more difficult than writing a 50,000 word essay on one topic, but you could certainly put a good argument together to the contrary.

      It all comes down to what you’re willing to work for and what you negotiate with the client. There is no “right” amount ultimately.

  22. Mercy
    October 1, 2015 at 3:14 pm

    Thanks Tom for this post. I’m a newbie and I think this is what I needed to hear!

  23. Deepak Maurya
    October 17, 2015 at 4:17 pm

    Thank you for the sharing the informative and important information honestly I like your job, have a good luck.

  24. Carol
    November 23, 2015 at 5:30 am

    I am obviously late joining this discussion, but I would like to say that I found your article very helpful, mainly because someone just approached me about writing for a particular site and asked how much I would charge for a 1,000-word article and I was unsure how to answer. Now I know not to ask a ridiculous amount but also not to underestimate the value of my time and effort. Thank you.

  25. Darcy Cardinal
    January 2, 2016 at 6:04 pm

    Thanks for the VERY helpful information Tom!

    I have just started my freelance writing career and have been wondering what to charge in my early months. As of right now, i am on job boards like upwork, mainly to find experience for writing, and what it’s like working with deadlines and such.

    I already have done one “gig” and have others in the bag waiting for me to do. It’s rather exciting and challenging at the same time, which gets me motivated to get to work each day now. It’s quite a change for me, less than 2 weeks ago i was flipping burgers, now i am writing from home!

    Back to the topic of charging. Right now, i am starting at the lower end, like others are doing. And using the job boards to find work to do. However, I have known in advance that creating your own “marketplace”, ie your website, is the long term way to go.

    Look forward to the rest of 2016 to grow!

    Darcy Cardinal

  26. illon Dawkins
    January 20, 2016 at 3:11 am

    I have just started as a freelance writer and have so many thing from the postings. thanks much Tom. I really appreciate your help.
    Is there a contact for you Mercy. Perhaps you can help me to get organized.

  27. Clarissa
    February 2, 2016 at 10:49 am

    Thank you so much for such a clear insight! I have been asked how much I charge per x number of words and I’m never sure how to answer, but this has helped a lot. 🙂

  28. Claudine
    February 6, 2016 at 7:18 pm

    Hello,

    Do you know of any good companies who might be looking for content writers in Canada?

    Great article! Thank you.

  29. Abhishek
    February 27, 2016 at 2:58 pm

    I must thank you for this write-up. I was looking for some source to understand what’s a reasonable number. Glad I got here. Thanks.

  30. Dannielle Szuba
    March 9, 2016 at 7:52 am

    Dear Sir,

    Thank-you so much for the clarification as it will help me in my estimates. If you would mind maybe you can speak with me about freelancing? As I am hoping to make this a successful living, and what better way then to learn then from someone who is already successful with it. Thank you for the information either way.

  31. Merin
    March 11, 2016 at 7:23 am

    Dear Sir,

    Thank you so much for the article. I am a top-rated freelancer in Upwork and have good writing skills. I focus mainly on technical articles as I am an engineer. Till now, I used to work at the rate of 1$ for 100 words, but I just realized that it is too low rate. Could you please suggest me some good companies who could pay better ( 2$ for 100 words is enough for me) ?
    My Upwork Profile : https://www.upwork.com/freelancers/~01388b1b0f3ab03f15

  32. stephen druce
    March 15, 2016 at 4:32 am

    Hello – an online major newspaper is interested in my
    spoof stories I`ve recently submitted. They have asked me what I charge and I`m stumped as to the figure I should request. I am new to this as I have only wrote
    humour books within a fixed contract context. My articles are quite short – I want to charge a consistent fee
    rather than per word. Don`t want to work for nothing but don`t want to take the p..s…is £20 an article reasonable?….just looking to gauge an average…please help.

    • Tom Ewer
      March 15, 2016 at 4:01 pm

      Hi Stephen,

      I’m afraid that I have no experience in what newspapers pay for the kind of content you’re offering. The only thing I can say is that there is no “correct” amount to charge – all you can do is make your best estimate and negotiate accordingly!

      Cheers,

      Tom

  33. Andy
    April 2, 2016 at 12:35 am

    Excellent info!

    I have a website about saving money on household bills. An owner of a similar website has approached me to write blogs for him on a weekly basis. The pay is $0.5 per word. Since my website doesn’t generate a lot of money, and I don’t have any prior writing experience, I might take on his offer and see how it goes.

    Thanks again for the good info and all who’ve shared their experience as freelance writers.

    Cheers!

  34. Ona
    April 4, 2016 at 11:28 pm

    Great article, Thank You!

  35. Hanuman chalisa
    June 14, 2016 at 11:04 am

    Thank you so much for posting this! I’m only new to the world of freelance writing and it’s a whole new ballgame for me. I appreciate all the free advice wonderful minds such as yourself put out.

  36. Volodymyr (from Ukraine)
    June 18, 2016 at 11:34 am

    Thanks a lot, Tom!
    Your article is very useful for Freelance writing newbies as a source of information and pleasant by its style and way of explanation.

    All the best!

  37. Jehanzeb
    June 19, 2016 at 3:59 pm

    Hello Tom, I want to ask a simple question I am currently in the forex trading business which I desperately want to quit and come towards article rewriting I am not a freelancer yet I do not have a profile but have wrote some articles for some friends can you guide me if I start it today can I build it up in some time,I will be working full time on it and can I make a living out of it.I have good command of english language and have some writing skills which I can improve

  38. Vipul Sharma
    July 10, 2016 at 6:38 am

    Hii Tom, I would like to ask how much I shall charge for content writing. I shall go for per words or per articles. & what are the charges I shall take as its my beginning per words and per articles??

  39. Lori Reese
    July 21, 2016 at 8:25 pm

    The average going rate is $3.00 per 100 words globally for excellent, SEO tooled content. Researched or authority content can go for $4.00 per 100 words and up.

    The only people who make more than that, are those that have significantly invested in a website, and have massive social media following, for placed “thought leader” or authority content in their specialty niche.

    And you are competing against global writers in lower paying countries, who are happy to write (albeit you can tell it’s non-native North American) content for $2 per 500 words.

    The quality, originality, the speed with which your write and years of building a solid reputation allowed me to segue from my day job to consulting, but having both College and University education in Marketing made that happen too.

  40. Steve Calvert
    September 16, 2016 at 7:35 pm

    I’m sorry Lori Reese, but I do not agree with all your comments. I sometimes write articles for Constant Content. I use a pen name and charge 7-10c per word. Sooner or later most of the articles sell. The customers are buying from a supplier who has no website or social network following because he does not exist.

  41. Nisha
    September 21, 2016 at 6:40 am

    Hey Tom….I’m from India and I was wondering if you’d be able to help shed some light on how much one should charge for writing creative Facebook posts? As opposed to regular blogs/articles, these are taglines, captions etc creative ones, with less words. Charging by the word in such cases doesn’t make it worth the while for a writer.

  42. S. Patterson
    October 4, 2016 at 8:56 pm

    You are devaluing your talent – and all writers’ talents – when you charge by the word. It’s a terrible practice made common by an even more devastating practice – crowdsourcing. If you’re just typing random words with no thought or research involved, then definitely charge by the word. But if pride yourself on developing concepts, crafting paragraphs, and researching your content – charge by the hour.

  43. Deborah Watson
    October 6, 2016 at 3:42 pm

    Thanks for clearing that up. I was so confused. Now i know.

  44. Sean Carey
    November 6, 2016 at 3:37 am

    Thanks for an extremely helpful article, Tom. I just found your blog, here, while searching for beginning rates for us Freelance Writers.

    I was also debating whether I should post rates or not – as a beginner, and I think I’ve now made my mind up. This is good info!

  45. Roger
    November 23, 2016 at 10:10 pm

    Tom, what would you charge for editing technical documents? Full level 3 edits such as product user guides, web sites, FAQs?

  46. Mariko
    January 6, 2017 at 5:45 pm

    This article helped me negotiate my very fist paid writing gig – Great info to share with the community and the comment section was helpful too. I need to improve my speed and negotiating skills, but I’m in the arena. Thank-you!!!

  47. Vivian So
    February 6, 2017 at 12:14 am

    $120 a blog post, about 750 words per post, so about 0.16 per word, but then i also include a custom made feature image in the cost.

    How I come up with the $120 is that it take about 4 hours for me to write a blog post with a custom made image that is well planned, proof read, and revised.

    I charge the same for a 4 page double space report. Of 4 pages, one page is cover art. 3 pages double space is about 750 words.

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