How Much Should I Charge as a Freelance Writer?

Like most freelancers, when I ventured into writing back in 2014, I had no idea what a “fair rate” was for my work. And, here’s the thing, most freelance writers guard their pricing like it’s KFC’s list of 11 herbs and spices.

If you dared to ask a writer how much they earn, they’d probably beat around the bush and say, “Listen, you need to charge what you feel your work is worth.” It’s so sweet and inspiring, but so not helpful.

Today, we’re going to use the real numbers compiled by go-getters like Elna Cain and talk about what freelance writers are actually charging in 2023.

How Much Does a Freelance Writer Make?

One of the toughest aspects of estimating what freelance writers charge is that you can take so many different approaches to how you price your services. When I first started, I charged per word at a measly rate of 3 cents, which I soon bumped to 5. Other writers charge on an hourly basis or they’ll quote a fixed fee for each project. There is no “best” choice and you might end up quoting clients differently based on their budgets and preferences.

But, you want to know the hard numbers! So, without further ado, let’s dive in…

How Much Does a Freelance Writer Make Per Word?

According to Cain’s 2023 survey, around 34% of freelance writers report charging between $0.05 and $0.20 per word. Roughly 29% charge $0.21 to $0.30 per word.

2023 pricing survey that answers the question: How much do freelance writers charge per word?

Based on my experience, 5 cents is a common rate for entry-level writers who are working through a platform like Scripted or CopyPress where projects are literally falling in their lap. These platforms sometimes pay up to 7 – 10 cents per word if the writer is specialized and/or experienced. However, as soon as you go about seeking direct clients (which means pitching, signing contracts, managing projects with your own tools, etc.), you should bump your rates!

When I moved to Upwork and had to go out and warm pitch to clients and take on more project management responsibilities, I was consistently quoting 10 – 12 cents per word. I had a few years of experience at that point and I was beginning to niche down into the tech space.

How Much Does a Freelance Writer Make Per Hour?

Ashley Cummings conducted a detailed survey into freelance writing rates last year and came up with some interesting results on what they charge per hour. In truth, it’s all over the place! 14.3% say they charge $30 to $40 per hour, 13.5% say they charge $41 to $50 an hour, and another 14.3% say they charge $51 to $60 per hour. Confusing, right?

2023 pricing survey that answers the question: How much do freelance writers charge per hour?

The good news is, $100+ an hour was the single largest bracket where 17.3% writers could agree. If you look at all the data together, we can also conclude from Ashley’s survey that 60% of freelance writers charge at least $50 an hour. Phew!

If we break down the data based on years of experience, most writers charging $31 to $40 an hour have 1-3 years of experience whereas most writers who charge $71+ an hour have at least 8 years of experience.

How Much Does a Freelance Writer Make Per Article?

Asking writers about their per word and per hour rate is easy because you’re attaching their value to a fixed method of measurement (i.e., time or word count). However, once you start getting into per project or per article pricing, things get murky.

Peak Freelance found that $250 to $399 is the most popular rate for a 1,500 word blog post. However, this could vary widely depending on aspects like the writer’s experience and the target industry. There are also unknowns, like whether these writers are providing keyword research, metadata, images, links, social snippets, and other assets as part of their article writing services, all of which add obvious value.

If you’re thinking about charging per project, there’s no problem with doing that. In fact, clients might love it because it helps keep the price of a project predictable for them. However, I’d suggest basing your project rate on factors like your target hourly/per word earnings and building on it with factors like the size of the company. That’s how you can move away from throwing out random numbers and crossing your fingers and actually adopting a value-based pricing model.

Can You Live Off Of Freelance Writing?

According to Elna Cain’s survey, which consisted of 530 freelance writers, 30% earned less than $2,000 month, 42% earned between $2,000 and $5,000 month, and 21% earned between $5,000 and $10,000 a month. All of these writers said they worked at least 10 hours/week, but it’s hard to say just how much those top earners are spending on their careers.

I’ve been a full-time writer since 2014 and I’ve made a living off of it from the start. However, I know a handful of writers who do it “on the side” or on a part-time basis, mostly because they have families and they simply can’t handle the stress of fluctuating income. With that said, if you’re planning on freelance writing full-time, there are ways to stabilize your income through budgeting and by getting clients on retainer.

If you are passionate about writing and you want to make it your full-time career, I say it’s entirely possible.

Where Can I Find Freelance Writing Clients?

There are a dozen ways to start earning money as a freelance writer, but Peak Freelance found that some 42% of writers find clients through referrals or word-of-mouth marketing. The second most popular method was through social media (17%). That’s a great reminder to get your LinkedIn profile and website in order, if you haven’t already.

The other sources of freelance writing jobs include communities (14%), cold pitching (11%), and job boards (6%). These numbers honestly surprised me, although the survey only consisted of a couple hundred writers, so it’s important to take it with a grain of salt.

I personally recommend that writers who need to start earning money quickly look into platforms like Scripted and Once you have that near-immediate source of income from a writing platform, you can start putting time into getting your own clients through the aforementioned sources, like cold pitching.

Should I Show My Rates On My Website?

An interesting question posed by Peak Freelance was whether or not the freelance writers they surveyed displayed their rates on their websites. Only 26% said that they did, which doesn’t surprise me at all.

When I first started writing and I was charging by the word, I published my rates right on my site. However, within a few years, I began to move away from commoditizing my time and I stopped charging the same rate to everyone. Instead, I began basing my quotes on the complexity and scope of each client’s needs, even if I was planning to charge per word or by the hour.

With that said, 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.

Learn How Successful Writers Make a Living

Well, I know it’s still not the magic numbers you’re looking for, but the fact is there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to pricing yourself as a writer. I hope I could shed some light on the subject for you, and maybe the next best thing you can do is start an open dialogue with writers (like me) who are happy to help you along on your journey to upping your earnings as a freelance writer.

Over at the Society of Writers, we have a friendly a community of people standing by to answer your questions, share experiences, and help guide you to success. Want in? Claim your invitation here.

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