Freelance writer rates depend on many factors, including project type. We put together this guide to help you understand what goes into pricing each project.
How Much Should I Pay a Freelance Writer?
From a business perspective, you should pay a freelance writer as much as you need to get a quality finished product, nothing more and nothing less. Just as plumbers charge different rates for their services, freelance writers charge different fees based on their skills and experience. A low rate isn’t necessarily an indicator of poor quality, just as a high rate doesn’t mean you’re working with the best freelancer for the job.
We put together this guide to help you understand what goes into determining freelance writer rates. Once you know what to expect, you can set your budget and start looking for a writer.
Factors Influencing Freelance Writer Rates
Many factors go into determining how much a freelance writer charges. Some of these factors are under your control, such as how long the project is and how much research it requires. Others depend on the freelancer’s professional background and personal circumstances. Here are some of the most important factors involved in determining freelancer pay.
1. Content Type and Purpose
One of the most important considerations is what type of content you need and how you plan to use it. Some types of writing are best handled by a specialist with extensive experience in your industry, while others can be handled by a generalist writer. Product descriptions or opinion pieces without detailed research requirements are much easier to write than case studies or white papers, for example.
Freelance writer rates tend to be higher for content that will be used to convert prospects into qualified leads or leads into paying customers. You can also expect to pay more if you need someone to write about highly technical topics. For example, a medical device manufacturer in need of a case study should expect to pay more than a fashion designer who needs basic product descriptions.
Here are some of the most common types of content:
- Blog posts
- Press releases
- Case studies
- White papers
- Email newsletters
- Thought leadership pieces
- Product descriptions
- Category descriptions
- How-to guides
- Sales letters
- Landing pages
2. Content Quality
When it comes to quality, speed and price, there’s an old saying in the business world: “You can have it fast. You can have it good. You can have it cheap. Pick two.” In other words, you shouldn’t expect top-tier quality at bargain prices. This is an informal explanation of the iron triangle, a business concept related to scope, time, cost and quality.
If you’re planning to hire a writer, think about whether you want to prioritize your budget or the quality of your content. When you’re trying to win new clients or get media coverage for your business, quality should be your top priority. For something like basic product descriptions, you may be able to give your budget more weight.
Just remember that what you publish needs to paint your business in a positive light. There’s no real benefit to paying bargain-basement rates if the finished product is riddled with errors or ends up making your company look bad.
3. Additional Responsibilities
If you need a writer to take on additional responsibilities as part of your project, you should expect to pay a higher rate than you would for writing alone. Depending on the type of project you’re doing, you may need to pay for the following:
- Travel time, lodging and other costs associated with on-site work
- Time spent interviewing sources
- Photography or stock photo sourcing
- Pitching the article to digital or print publications
- Graphic design/document layout
- Extra revisions
- Managing a team of writers
- Editing content written by other writers
4. Turnaround Time
Freelance writers usually work on multiple projects at the same time, and many of these projects are scheduled months in advance. If you need a quick turnaround time, the writer may have to reschedule other projects or work extra hours to write your content. Most freelancers charge a premium for this kind of flexibility.
It’s important to have reasonable expectations when it comes to turnaround time. While it’s possible to write a short blog post in 24 hours, a writer needs much more time to collect data for a case study or interview sources for a long-form article.
5. Expertise Required
Writer Alyssa Brandt recommends writing a job description or request for a proposal (RFP) before you start looking for a writer. The document should spell out the knowledge, skills and abilities a freelancer needs to mesh well with your team. One of the most important considerations is the type of expertise required. Do you need a journalist who can write long-form articles about your business? How about a technical writer with experience writing user documentation for complex software packages?
You should also think about whether the writer needs a specific degree or professional certification. If you’re hiring someone to write content about project management, for example, someone with the PMP certification is likely to provide deeper insight than a generalist writer without the PMP credential.
6. Project Requirements
Not all writing projects have the same requirements. Some clients provide templates and ask their writers to submit completed projects via email. Others want their writers to use a content management system (e.g., WordPress, Joomla) to write the content, add photos and come up with meta titles and descriptions.
At Crowd Content, we work with clients who have detailed requirements regarding keyword usage, formatting, backlinking and image use. Generally, the more detailed your requirements are, the more you can expect to pay a freelancer.
7. Author Credit
Freelance writer rates also depend on whether you plan to give the author a byline or publish the work under your own name. Publishing under the name of a well-known writer gives your company added credibility, so you can expect to pay more to work with someone who allows you to use their byline on your site.
Rates for Freelance Writing Services
Carol Tice, an experienced journalist and the owner of Make a Living Writing, conducts an annual survey to determine how much freelance writers earn for various projects. The 2020 survey included more than 600 participants at all levels of experience. Approximately 50% of respondents indicated that they earn more than $100 for a short blog post (500 to 800 words); another 24% reported they make $400 or more for a blog post of 1,000 to 2,000 words.
According to Tice, writers should expect to be paid hundreds of dollars per page for case studies and white papers, as they’re “heavy-duty lead generators for businesses that help them book millions in new revenue.” Pricing for short marketing emails ranged from $100 to $750 per email in 2020.
When you work with Crowd Content, you get access to teams of freelancers willing to write at various pay rates. We’ll take a look at your budget and let you know what to expect in terms of quality and turnaround time.
How Freelance Writer Pay Is Determined
Freelancers typically get paid by the word, by the hour or by the page/post/project. Paying per word is a great way to set clear expectations and manage your budget. If you offer 20 cents per word for a 1,000-word blog post, for example, you know you’ll spend no more than $200. Setting a word count ahead of time also helps prevent miscommunications regarding payment.
While you can certainly pay by the hour, doing so makes it more difficult to determine how much you can expect to pay for the whole project. The freelancer may take longer than you expected, increasing your overall costs. Hourly pay is best reserved for “extra” services, like interviewing an executive for a business profile or attending a Zoom strategy meeting with your marketing team.
In some cases, it makes sense to pay a flat fee. For social media posts, a flat fee for each post is fair because the writer needs to spend time learning about your brand and tailoring their writing to match the tone of your existing content. Flat fees are also ideal if you have a budget in mind and don’t know how many hours it will take to complete the project.
Content is one of the most important aspects of any marketing campaign, whether you run a small business or work in the marketing department of a Fortune 500 company. Good content is also essential for improving your search engine rankings and making sure potential customers can find you online. If you want high-quality content, you must be willing to pay a reasonable rate based on the scope of the project and the writer’s skills and experience. Reach out to Crowd Content to learn more about how a freelance writer can help grow your business.