Average Rates for Content Writing in 2023
- 40% of writers charge per project
- 67% of writers charge at least 17 cents per word
- 51% of writers charge at least $60 per hour
- 65% of writers charge at least $250 per article
It’s a 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?
There’s no super secret formula that other writers are hiding from you. 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.
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.
Types of Writing Rates
According to a survey from last year:
- 38% charge per hour
- 18% of writers charge per word
- 40% charge per project
Only 4% of freelance writers use an alternative method, such as a monthly retainer fee. If you’re wondering which one of these is the best option as a new writer, we endorse project-based pricing as it’ll help you get on track to value-based pricing from the very start.
Adopting a Value-Based Pricing Model
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, even if you’re working on a marketplace like Upwork.
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.
How much do writers charge per word?
Instead of assuming you’re in the lowest or highest bracket based solely on your experience level, 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
- 13% 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
- 13% charge 26 cents to 39 cents per word
- 12% charge 40 cents to 53 cents per word
- 15% charge more than 53 cents per word
As this survey collected information for ghostwriting, technical writing, bylined work, and so on, the datarange is quite broad. However, it’s very beneficial in showing you how much you have to grow. Now, if you’re not earning that much, consider where you’re currently working.
Content writing intermediaries like Scripted are generally going to keep you under 10 to 15 cents per word no matter how many years of experience you gain because they’re the middleman bringing work right to you. Meanwhile, content mills like TextBroker will practically never pay you more than a few pennies.
Meanwhile, if you find yourself writing for publications, you can get into that 50 cents to $1 per word range with relative ease — even with limited experience. If you’re trying to find higher-paying writing gigs, join our Slack channel!
Per-Word Rates for Copywriting
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 do writers charge per hour?
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.
Remember: You don’t get a guaranteed 20-40 hours of paid work each week as a freelancer — there’s a lot of non-billable activities to consider, and this is why I recommend thinking about things in terms of a minimum effective rate. If you’re coming from a 9-to-5 mindset, think twice before positioning yourself at the low-end of the hourly pay scale.
Hourly Rates for Content Writing
- 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
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 whom you’re offering your services.
Hourly Rates for Copywriting
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 much do writers charge per project?
When charging by the project, writers should take a variety of factors into account, but some of these aspects are easier to quantify than others. 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 those numbers with other factors.
The factors that influence a project’s price the most include:
- Time involved
- Word count
- Project scope
- Skill level needed / niche expertise
Project Rates for Content Writing
A project can look like so many different things (white papers, case studies, simple articles, complicated articles, etc.), so Peak Freelance constrained the question by asking writers to give their quote for a 1,500-word article, coming to:
- 13% charge less than $99
- 20% charge $100 to $249
- 27% charge $250 to $399
- 13% charge $400 to $599
- 12% charge $600 to $799
- 13% charge over $800
If you’ve been writing for any length of time, you know a 1,500-word blog post can take a wide range of time depending on the industry and client requirements, but these numbers should give you a starting point if you feel confused about freelance writer rates for articles and similar content.
Project Rates for Copywriting
On average, freelance copywriters charge:
- $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
Given the lack of concrete data on pricing in the copywriting industry broken down by content types (i.e., social media posts vs. ads vs. emails), my best advice is to go searching for copywriters offering services similar to your own and get a feel for the industry standard. 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.
Get Help Building Your Freelance Writing Business
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. After nine years in the industry, I can assure you these numbers 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. Beginners and experienced writers alike are welcome, so come join our Slack channel!
Frequently Asked Questions
Should I post freelance writing rates on my website?
There’s nothing wrong with showing your rates on your website, but I would suggest giving a range instead of a fixed fee. This allows you a bit of wiggle room to cover those times when a client comes to you with a lot of complicated requirements or a topic that’s simply going to take longer to research.
How do I estimate my rate for potential clients?
When assessing freelance writing jobs, the easiest way to estimate your rate is to start with a flat fee based on a hard number (like time or word count) and then consider the more subjective factors, such as your niche expertise and the value you’re creating for your client. If you’re new to the concept of value-based pricing, join our free webinar.
How can I start charging higher rates?
Even newbies deserve fair compensation for their work, but the highest-earning freelance content writers position themselves as strategic business partners. This means they don’t only produce high-quality work and invest time in proofreading, but they also go beyond writing projects to offer advice on content marketing or SEO.
Finding ways to expand your business beyond writing skills will help you earn higher rates for your freelance writing services, and make you a more valuable assets to the clients you work with. If you think AI can do what you do, it’s high time to upskill.
What if I feel stuck earning low rates?
If you feel stuck earning a low rate, you’re not alone. Between imposter syndrome and simply not knowing what a reasonable rate is for the type of content you’re working on, we’ve all been there at some point — the key is that you’re taking strides to assess the market and upskill! If you want to earn a full-time living as a freelance writer, you have to go beyond flat rates.
Join our free pricing webinar to learn more about how you can start integrating value-based pricing into your strategy.