What to Charge Your Freelance Writing Clients

If you’re not making much money from your freelance writing career so far, I got some advice for ya:

I know. Maybe don’t Tweet that actually – it’s bad advice, right?

Wrong. (I’ll wait while you Tweet.)

Here’s why: by pitching for writing clients, instead of individual freelance writing gigs on Upwork and the like, you’ll auto-magically go from earning a few bucks here and there to online writing success and riches.

(OK, I can’t promise riches, but certainly motions towards making writing more of your full-time thing.)

Like most things that are worthwhile though, it’s a process.

If you’ve read my free eBook about how to build a writing portfolio from scratch, you’ll know that starting small works. But once you’ve proved you’re the remarkable and reliable writer you know yourself to be, you need to step up your game a notch or two.

More specifically, you need to stop pitching for individual writing gigs and pitch for clients that will come on board and pay you a regular fee you can come to rely on.

Why you need to work out your hourly rate as a freelance writer

While I don’t recommend you charge your freelance writing clients by the hour, you still need to consider your hourly rate.

Confused? Crikey. OK, here’s the deal:

When you contact potential clients, it’s a good idea to pitch your writing services based on a simple monthly fee. To find your monthly fee, you need to be aware of:

  1. How much and what type of work you can complete in an hour
  2. Your ideal hourly rate

(The idea of a monthly fee is based upon the fact that where I’m from things like rent and bills are expected on a monthly basis. If in your part of the world these things are demanded weekly or fortnightly then charge your clients according to that instead.)

Choose your own salary

To find your hourly rate you first need to consider an annual salary that’s ideal yet feasible.

You might want to start with a figure slightly above your annual salary at your old or current day job. Be realistic, but don’t sell yourself short.

Think about how much you’ve studied for your craft and how much companies and publications will benefit from your superhero writing skills.

Here’s that formula to work out what to charge freelance writing clients

Take that annual salary you’ve just set yourself and divide it by 200 days. This figure indicates how much you need to earn each workday.

(Note that weekends and holidays have already been taken into account – you’re not going for a 365-day work year here. I mean, just no.)

Now divide this daily rate by how many hours you intend to work per day.

This figure is your new hourly rate as a freelance writer online!

Exciting, huh?

Not quite.

Because the number crunching doesn’t stop there: you now need to consider how long each piece of work takes you to complete.

Say you pitch to a client and offer to write four blog posts per month and you know it will take you two hours to research, write and polish each one. You need to multiply your hourly rate by two hours for each blog post and then again by four (how many you’ve committed to per month).

Numbers aren’t my thing either – so here’s an example

If you worked out your hourly rate to be $50 an hour, you need to multiply that by 2 hours and then 4 blog posts.

$50×2 is $100. Multiply it by 4 and you now know you need to charge that client $400 per month.

Geddit?

Your hourly rate is not something you need to inform your clients of – it’s just something you need to work out on your own to begin with.

As you become better and better at constructing blog posts and other online content to a higher standard in a shorter period of time, you can revisit your hourly/monthly rate again and again.

You may already have a different method for working out what to charge freelance writing clients. That’s cool. Feel free to share it in the comments below. (Smarty pants.)

Disclaimer: This is an extract from the ultimate course on how to go from zero to frickin’ superhero as an online writer. It really is the best guide on how to make it in this crazy biz. But then I would say that because I wrote it. Other people say nice things about it too though. OK, I’m rambling. See for yourself: How to Earn a Living as a Freelance Writer Online course.

Photo by lucas Favre on Unsplash

23 thoughts on “What to Charge Your Freelance Writing Clients

  1. Great advice, Kirsty! I never thought of pitching for clients instead of writing gigs (maybe because i really don’t see myself as a writer, still LOL). But occasionally i do get writing assignments from clients so calculating a monthly fee and putting the client on a retainer is an excellent idea – will try it out, thanks for the idea 😀

      1. Even an old hack like me finds inspiration from your emails, Kirsty. Your advice to writers to resist the temptation to continuously re-write is sound indeed. The world’s greatest epic will
        be pointless, if it misses the deadline!

  2. I completely agree with you. I have been reading in one of my LinkedIn groups about people using sites like Elance and was appalled to learn that they were paying money to show up near the top in search results. These are people who are spending hours trying to find a writing gig and for little money to boot.

    If these people would just reach out to their social media connections, they would be shocked to learn that they will get many jobs and at a pay rate that is much more suitable.

    So glad you wrote this post. I hope people take your advice. There is a better way!

  3. Hi Kirsty,

    Excellent post! I really like reading how you break your hourly rate down to better understand your monthly rate which will then ultimately let you know what your salary for freelance writing is.

    This is excellent and in-depth.

    Freelance Writer and Blogger
    William Ballard

  4. I’m not sure why but this site is loading very slow for me.
    Is anyone else having this problem or is it a problem on my end?
    I’ll check back later and see if the problem still exists.

    1. Hi, I’m the site owner. It seems to be running fine from here, but if you check back later and it’s still running slowly for you please do let me know.

  5. What a brilliant brain you have! I’m so intrigued by your site and how you put yourself across to the reader. The financial income structuring information is an enormous help.
    I have much to learn whilst embarking on a freelance travel writing career but somehow feel, after doing so much online research elsewhere, that I may have stumbled upon the most informative of websites, and one that answers so many of the questions I have been pondering since giving up my old career.

    Brilliant, and thanks! 🙂

  6. Thanks so, so, so, sooooo much for this article!
    I absolutely needed this right now, because I have started out on my writing service business and an averaging about $500 a month, but it is only from people ordering individual packages, and they love my work so that I now have testimonials and now move onto getting regular clients that pay per month! 🙂

      1. Yeah!! 🙂

        thank you so much for this gold nugget of info, and I have to say I loved the little eBook you had and am currently in the application review process for People Per Hour, and then I am building a page on my website where people can get quotes and what not!

        Again, thank you so, so sooo much 🙂

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