The right amount to pay a freelance writer in 2024 depends on many factors. You can’t spend more than your profit margin allows, but you also want to be fair to the talented folks churning out your white papers and blog posts. To help you get the most bang for your buck while protecting your bottom line, we’ve compiled this guide so you can understand how to price your projects.
How Much Should I Pay a Freelance Writer?
As a business owner, you need to find a balance between paying a freelance writer what they deserve and not decimating your budget. This would be easier if there were a set rate for writing, but that’s not the case. With so many types of content, niches, and other factors in play, figuring out the going rate isn’t always simple.
It’s like hiring a plumber or any other home service contractor. The amount you pay a relatively new-to-the-biz plumber differs from what a veteran might charge you with decades of experience. Add offerings such as regular versus emergency service and routine tasks versus specialty tasks, and the rates shift again.
A low rate doesn’t mean poor quality, and a high rate doesn’t mean you’re getting the best. That’s why it’s crucial to consider your needs, the industry norm, and other ingredients of the project pie before you set a rate and start your hunt.
Factors influencing freelance writer rates
Many factors go into determining how much a freelance writer charges. Some are within your control, such as the length of the project and the amount of research. Other factors depend on the freelancer’s professional background and personal circumstances. Get to know each element, and you’ll be better prepared to make the right writer an offer that benefits both parties.
1. Content type and purpose
Consider what 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 a general writer can manage others. Product descriptions and broad-topic blog posts with minimal research requirements are easier to write than case studies or white papers.
Freelance writer rates tend to be higher for content that’s used to convert prospects into qualified leads or leads into paying customers. You can also expect to pay more if you need a writer for highly technical topics. For example, a medical device manufacturer needing 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 informal explanation of the iron triangle is a business concept related to scope, time, and cost.
If you’re planning to hire a writer, think about whether you want to prioritize your budget or the quality of your content. Quality should be your top priority if you’re trying to win new clients or get media coverage for your business. For basic product descriptions, you may be able to give your budget more weight.
Just remember your published content needs to paint your business in a positive light. There’s no real benefit to paying bargain-basement freelance writer rates if the finished product is riddled with errors or makes your company look bad.
3. Additional responsibilities
If you expect your writer to wear more than one hat or provide more than basic writing duties, expect to pay a higher rate. 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
- Article pitches to digital or print publications
- Graphic design/document layout
- Extra revisions
- Editorial services
4. Turnaround time
Freelance writers usually work on multiple projects simultaneously, many of which 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. Remember the plumber analogy? If you need someone to tackle a major leak ASAP, you pay a premium for priority status. Likewise, freelancers often charge a premium for flexibility.
Even if you’re paying extra for a fast turnaround, you should have reasonable expectations. While writing a short blog post in 24 hours is possible, a writer may need more time to collect data for a case study or interview sources for a long-form article.
5. Expertise required
It’s a good idea to write a job description or request for proposal 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. Consider 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 may also look for writers with specific degrees or professional certifications. If you’re hiring a writer to craft content about project management, someone with the Project Management Professional certification may 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 develop 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 precise 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 name. Publishing under the name of a well-known writer gives your company and website credibility — something Google’s algorithm loves and looks for — so you can expect to pay more if you include the writer’s byline on your site.
How Freelance Writer Pay Is Determined
There are typically three ways freelancers get paid.
- By the word: This is arguably the most common and straightforward pricing method. Paying by the word helps you manage your budget — 20 cents per word times 1000 words always equals a maximum of $200. But word count doesn’t always equal value. For instance, a 20-word Facebook post is typically more expensive than $4.
- By the hour: Many clients like to pay by the hour because it’s the system they’re most accustomed to. But if a writer works quickly, they’re penalized for their expertise. Conversely, a slow but methodical writer could exceed your budget. For those reasons, hourly pay is best reserved for add-on services, such as interviewing an executive for a business profile or attending a Zoom strategy meeting with your marketing team.
- By the post/page/project: Freelance writing rates set by the post or project are often the fairest way to approach projects that require a lot of knowledge but few words. Flat fees also work if you have a budget in mind and don’t know how many hours it will take to complete the project.
Rates for Freelance Writing Services
Carol Tice, an experienced journalist and the owner of Make a Living Writing, conducted 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 making over $100 for a short blog post (500-800 words); for longer blog posts between 1,000 and 2,000 words, most writers reported earnings of up to $350.
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.” Short marketing email prices ranged from $100 to $750 per email.
As of 2022, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics put the median pay for writers and authors at $73,150 or $35.17 per hour. Using that model, you could estimate how long a project would take and pay by the hour or the project. For instance, a blog that should take about 2 hours may cost about $70. But using that rating system across the board doesn’t consider industry, expertise, or content type. Content focusing on specific niches and requiring extra education or credentials is priced higher than articles requiring basic research. An agency outsourcing content for a portfolio of end clients might encounter the following rates for an article or blog:
- Education: 25 cents per word
- Business: 30 cents per word
- Fintech: 50 cents per word
The rate for a buyer’s guide or email template might be slightly lower in each category, while the rate for technical writing, such as a white paper or case study, nearly doubles. When you work with Crowd Content, you get access to teams of freelancers who write at various pay rates. We review your budget and let you know what to expect regarding quality and turnaround time.
Making Room for Content in Your Marketing Budget
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, great content helps you boost your search engine rankings and increase conversion rates. If you want high-quality content, you need to pay reasonable freelance writing rates based on the scope of the project, your company’s needs, and the writer’s skills and experience.To see how a freelance writer can help you grow your business, look at Crowd Content’s content creation services today.