Tag Archives: Freelance writer rates

Rate rant: Don’t undervalue your work. It’s hurts the rest of us.

I saw this posted on Elance this morning: [Yes, I belong to several job boards. No I don’t actually use them unless I see something truly worthwhile, which is rare. I simply monitor them so I can write about them. Here’s one of those moments…]

Writer for Online Holistic Technology Business
Hourly: $9.99 / hr or less | Web Content
“…this is an intense interview process. If you are TRULY committed to following through, paying attention to details, and really want this job – then apply. If not, don’t waste our time…”

Intense interview process? At less than 10 bucks an hour? Who’s wasting whose time?

If you’re an American, you should be charging at least $50 per hour for writing services. Anything less and you’re undervaluing yourself – AND hurting the rest of us. Even $50 per hour is low if you’re a corporate writer, but it’s not so low that it’s an insult. Major corporations will easily pay $100 and more per hour to quality writers who have proven their worth. But, I promise there’s a reason I state $50 as the bargain basement pricing. Read on…

A copy writer at a major corporation earns about $45,000 a year. (And that person usually has to have at least an Associate’s Degree if not Bachelor’s! Imagine going to college just so you can earn a whopping $10 per hour!) Anyway, let’s say, as a self-employed copy writer, you want to earn $45,000 a year.

When you’re in business for yourself, you have other overhead to consider:

  • Health, dental, life & disability insurance
  • Payroll taxes
  • Business insurances
  • Home office expense
  • Phone
  • Office equipment and supplies
  • Website maintenance, software and other IT costs
  • Books, subscriptions, memberships
  • Travel (Oh yes you will! You’re a writer, you probably go to writer’s conferences, etc.)
  • Bank fees and interest expenses

So let’s start with the $45,000 employee’s NET pay ($35,888.58) and add in the above expenses (based on what I actually paid out in 2014). That comes to $77,475.85. Notice I did NOT include marketing costs in my list. That’s because I do business in such a way that doesn’t require marketing. But many writers do market their services so add that in if you’re one of them.

Next, let’s break that total down into hours:
$77,475.85 ÷ 52 weeks ÷ 40 hours a week = $37.24 per hour.
Will you actually get 40 hours’ worth of billable work each week? Let’s say you average 30 billable hours each week. Now you’re hourly total is $49.66. Round that up and you get $50 per hour.

That’s why I say if you’re not charging a MINIMUM of $50 per hour, you’re selling yourself short and making it impossible for the rest of us who have to compete with substandard rates.

Look at it this way: If you went to any store to purchase merchandise, would you expect an 80% discount on every item? That’s what’s happening when you accept $10 per hour on writing jobs. Just say no! There are waayy better ways to make a decent living as a writer.