Freelance Writing Rates for 2023

I know the nerve-wracking feeling. There’s a project you’re on the cusp of claiming, but you have no idea what a fair rate would be. Quote too high and you could scare them off for good. Quote too low and they might not take you seriously. How do you find the perfect middle ground where you can price yourself profitably without making your client wince?

To be honest, it doesn’t really get easier, you’ll just grow more confident at guesstimating. There’s no super secret formula that other writers are hiding from you (trust me, I’ve done a lot of searching for it myself). Every project and every client are different and you’ll always have to play a little bit of a guessing game when it comes to pricing, but there are many benchmarks you can use to help you set your rates, and a good start is knowing what others are charging. So, let’s dive in!

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    How do writers charge for their work?

    Deciding how to set your rates is often the first conundrum you have to tackle as a new writer and you have a few options: Charge based on word count, charge based on time, or use a combination of both those factors (and others) to arrive at a unique quote specific to the project at hand. You can also charge a monthly retainer fee, but we’ll talk about that another day.

    According to a survey from last year, 18% of writers charge per word, 38% charge per hour, and 40% charge per project. That leaves just 4% using an alternative method like retainers. If you’re wondering which one of these is the best option as a new writer, I would vouch for project-based pricing as it’ll help you get on track to value-based pricing from the very start (more on that in a minute).

    How Writers Price Their Work

    No Data Found

    The above numbers represent the average across writers of all experience levels. When you only look at how more experienced writers price their services, project-based pricing is even more popular, climbing from 40% to 45%. Meanwhile, per-word pricing becomes even less popular, dropping from 18% to 14%.

    What is value-based pricing?

    Value-based pricing is a method where you look beyond word count and hours and arrive at a rate based on how valuable a project is to the client. This is the strategy top-earning writers use to charge thousands of dollars for a single article — and you can use it from day one.

    With value-based pricing, you’re able to scale your rates based on the size of the business you’re writing for. Plus, it gets you into the mindset of thinking about what you’re actually creating for your clients. It’s not “just” an article; you’re building trust in their brand, converting readers to followers, helping them make sales, and driving measurable results for their business. 

    So, how do you assess the value of a project? It involves many factors, including word count and the number of hours you’ll invest into it, but it also requires you to consider the client’s business — including their budget or revenue. We have a guide on the process, but let’s get back to our breakdown of writing rates since they form the foundation of any pricing approach. 

    How much are writers charging per word?

    Based on data aggregated from Peak Freelance and the aforementioned survey, here’s what writers are actually charging per word articles and other content

    • 12% charge less than 6 cents per word
    • 20% charge 6 cents to 16 cents per word
    • 27% charge 17 cents to 25 cents per word
    • 20% charge 26 cents to 35 cents per word
    • 31% charge more than 35 cents per word

    As you can see, the data is all over the place. In my experience, per-word rates depend more on where you’re writing than how long you’ve been at it. 

    Content writing platforms like Scripted are generally going to keep you in the lowest brackets no matter how many years of experience you gain because they’re the middleman bringing work right to you. On the other hand, if you find yourself writing for a major publication, you’ll get into that 25 to 35 cents a word range with relative ease. 

    So, don’t assume you’re in the lowest or highest bracket based solely on your experience level. Instead, consider where you’re selling your services and who you’re selling them to. Working with a content house or agency of any kind will almost always net you lower rates. If you want to be a high-earner, cut out the middleman. 

    Per-Word Rates for Content Writing

    No Data Found

    How much do copywriters charge per word? 

    If you’re copywriting ads, slogans, or similar text, you should avoid charging per word as brevity is generally the goal. Copywriters spend hours coming up with ideas and even more time trying to make them as short and snappy as possible. Can you imagine how Dan Wieden would’ve felt if he charged Nike for just three words when he came up with the “Just Do It” tagline? 

    If you’re a copywriter, aim for hourly pricing or, better yet, lean into project-based pricing with a focus on the value of the copy you’re creating for the business. If it’s for a major campaign or if it’s going to be used to push a high-ticket item, value-based pricing will help you slide up the scale and charge accordingly. 

    How much are writers charging per hour?

    Here’s a look at how much writers are charging per hour for content writing and copywriting services.

    Hourly Rates for Content Writing

    Figuring out a fair hourly rate for your work as a writer is tough, especially when you’re first starting out and you aren’t even sure how long a given project will take you to complete. Your client will likely have even less of a clue how long a project would/should take, which can cause quite a headache if you end up billing them for more hours than they had in mind. Regardless, here’s a look at the numbers:

    • 6% of writers charge less than $30/hour
    • 42% of writers charge between $30/hour and $60/hour
    • 51% of writers charge over $60/hour

    At first glance, you might think these hourly rates are phenomenal, but you (and any client working a 9-to-5) must remember that there’s a lot of non-billable effort that goes into your work as a freelance writer. While you might bill a client for an hour of writing at $60, you may have spent an hour finding and pitching to that project and another hour discussing the details with them, bringing your effective rate down to a not-so-glamarous $20. 

    Remember: You don’t get a guaranteed 20-40 hours of paid work each week as a freelancer and you certainly aren’t getting employee benefits, so think twice before positioning yourself at the low-end of the hourly pay scale. 

    Content Writing Hourly Rates

    No Data Found

    If you add things up, 65% of content writers are charging at least $50/hour and that’s a good starting point if you’re trying to figure out a fair hourly rate for your work. However, just like with per-word rates, moving between these brackets goes beyond gaining experience; you’ll also need to consider where/to who you’re offering your services. 

    Hourly Rates for Copywriting

    I am not a copywriter by trade, but Kate Toon over at Clever Copywriting School shares these rates for 2023 based on a poll from her community: 

    • Juniors are charging $50/hour to $70/hour
    • Mid-levels are charging $70/hour to $105/hour
    • Seniors are charging $105/hour to $130/hour 

    For her purposes, she defines a junior copywriter as someone with less than two years of experience and a senior copywriter as someone with more than four years of experience. She shares a lot of other valuable information in her copywriting guide too. 

    How do writers price a project?

    When charging by the project, writers can and should take a variety of factors into account. The most popular include the total number of hours they think the project will require, the amount of research necessary, the projected word count, the scope of the project, the complexity of the project, and how valuable the project is to the client. Needless to say, some of these aspects are easier to quantify than others. 

    What influences a project's price the most?

    No Data Found

    If you’re trying to give a client a quote for a project, the easiest place to start is by coming to a fair rate for your time and words and combining them. For example, if I were just starting out on a site like Upwork again and working with nondescript businesses, I’d consider charging $50/hour and 10 cents per word for content, bringing a simple 1,500-word article to $200 (a more than fair rate for any client hiring a capable writer). Just remember that this same article could easily be worth 5x to 10x as much in front of a different client.

    Project Rates for Content Writing

    With the hypotheticals out of the way, let’s take a look at what writers actually charge per project. Given that a project can look like so many different things (white papers, case studies, simple articles, complicated articles, blah, blah, blah), Peak Freelance did something many surveyors don’t do and they constrained it. In this case, they asked writers to give their quote for a 1,500-word article and these were the results. 

    Rates for a 1,500-Word Article

    No Data Found

    No doubt, there is still a wide spectrum of complexity for a 1,500-word article, but these ranges should give you a good idea of where to start. The previous hypothetical scenario falls right into the second-most popular bracket, sitting comfy alongside the 20% of writers who would charge $100 to $249 for the same. It also shows that there’s still room to up the rates with 27% of writers charging between $250 to $399 for an article of the same length. 

    Project Rates for Copywriting

    If you’re convinced that content writing rates are all over the place, just take a look at what copywriters charge for various projects on average:

    • $2,600 for website copy
    • $4,000 for an email sequence
    • $1,050 for a single ad
    • $1,750 for sales letters
    • $2,175 for landing pages

    If you’re a visual learner like me, here’s a look at all these numbers stacked up next to one another:

    Copy Writing Project Rates

    No Data Found

    I would love to break these rates down further based on experience level or specific criteria (like the number of emails in a sequence), but this was the best data I could find after scouring the web for hours. I know, frustrating! When I first started writing eight years ago, none of these surveys existed and it caused me to under-price my services for far too long. 

    Given the lack of concrete data on pricing in the copywriting industry, my best advice is to go searching for copywriters offering services similar to your own and see what they’re quoting. You might even try asking a few you admire on LinkedIn about it because most writers are more than happy to help others get off to a strong start. 

    Are you ready to up your income?

    These numbers can be very inspiring, but for writers who are struggling to climb the ladder, earning a $1,000 for a single project might seem like a pipe dream. I know how it feels because I was stuck in a pricing rut for far too long. Working in a silo for my first few years, I was ignorant to just how much I could and should be charging and I ended up burned out because of it. 

    The first time I saw numbers like these, I was floored. At first, I didn’t even believe they were anywhere close to accurate, but all this time later, I can assure you that they are very real — and you can hit them! If you don’t think it’s possible, why don’t you come chat with some writers who are earning these rates every single day? 

    I created the Society of Writers to get people like you out of the freelancing silo and into transparent conversations and insightful discussions with other writers. Would you like to join? Here’s your invitation!

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