When we first thought about doing a roundup on freelance rates, we knew we didn’t want to get into the debate of whether you should publish your rates or not. There are many of those floating around, and both sides seem to have solid arguments for their choice.
Instead, we wanted to give newbie (and even experienced) freelancers an answer to the eternal question: How much should I charge as a freelancer?
Sure, we could go into the hypothetical “imagine your ideal salary” scenarios, but we’ve found that sometimes leaves people more confused, often because they forget to account for expenses such as taxes, health insurance, time off, admin time, and all the overhead associated with going freelance.
So we did the next best thing: we asked some established freelancers why they decided to publish their rates. We’re using their rates as an anchoring examples to show you that it IS possible to charge decent prices and make a living as a freelance writer. And it IS possible to do that while being straightforward with your clients from the get-go.
Here’s how these five freelancers replied to these two question:
- Why did you choose to publish your rates?
- What effect did it have on your business?
Table of Contents
1. Bree Brouwer – Writer, Geek and Prosper
For the first few months of my freelance career, I never published my rates because I thought it would turn off potential clients. But then when I saw low-ball offer after low-ball offer from the majority of my inquiries, I decided to set the bar high enough – visibly – on my site that I could:
a) afford to actually get my business off the ground and turn it into a sustainable career, and
b) deter cheap clients.
And it worked.
Once I set exact prices for my services (such as price per blog post or per white paper), my business grew. After taking a full-time day job for a year and a half to get inside experience in my chosen niche, I came back to freelancing full time and decided that instead of listing prices for each service I provided, I would set a minimum fee requirement per month or per project, as well as per hour for consulting work. I did this because I can now call myself knowledgeable about my industry, and so anyone who wants to hire me for that expertise shouldn’t shy away from my prices (and if they do, I know I wouldn’t want to work for them, anyway).
I made more my first year back to freelancing full-time than I had in any previous year as a freelancer! I mainly attribute this to the fact that I niched down and became an expert in that industry, but I do think it had to do with defining my value in a visible way via my rates. Sure, I still get low-ball offers, but they are few and far between now; it’s also much easier for me to say “no” to them, knowing that my rates are what they are because I know my worth, and that I always end up getting work from clients who do appreciate and respect my work.
Here’s a sample of Bree’s rates at the time of publication:
For non-consulting projects, I typically work with companies or individuals who have at least $500-$1000 to invest towards any single project (and that fee can be on a monthly recurring basis if you’re looking for ongoing work like blogging). For consulting of any sort, I charge $100/hour, or a monthly retainer fee if you want to keep me around for longer.
If those numbers scare you in any way, find another freelancer. I only work with people who recognize the value of what they’re investing in. The truth is you get a lot for what I give you, like my 100% dedication to your project, my professionalism from years of freelance experience, quality work that’s turned in on-time, and proven results which have already made lots of past clients delighted they hired me.
2. Jorden Roper – Writer, Cutthroat Copy
I publish my rates to weed out clients who don’t have the budget to pay what I charge.
More specifically, I put a rate range on my website and let clients know that the exact rate will vary depending on project scope.
It has definitely helped as far as allowing me to attract clients who understand the value of what I do and are willing to pay me well for it! Most of the time, when I jump on a phone call with potential clients now, they’ve seen my site/rates and know exactly what to expect as far as how much they need to budget.
Here’s a sample of Jorden’s rates at the time of publication:
I know how long it takes to write an in-depth, well-researched blog post that gets results for your business (a LONG damn time!). So my blog posts are typically… (drum roll please!) $200-$400 each. If you’re ready to invest in content that helps you turn readers into paying customers, reach out. I’m just an email away!
More by Jorden: How I Regularly Earn $100+ Per Hour as a Freelance Blogger
3. Mike Straus – Writer, Brand Gesture
I chose to publish my rates after years of NOT publishing them and constantly having potential clients low-ball me. I figured that publishing my rates would serve as a signal to low-quality clients that I’m looking for a higher caliber of client to work with.
Once I decided to publish my rates on my website, I started getting more clients. Better clients. Bigger clients. Higher-paying clients. And I started getting taken a lot more seriously. Also, I started earning more money.
Here’s a sample of Mike’s rates at the time of publication:
Mike’s rates start from $250 (for a 500-word article) to $1000 (for a 2000-word article). He also offers case studies ($500.00–$1,350.00), media releases (starting at $400 for 500 to 800 words) and landing pages (starting at $500).
4. Lizzie Davey – Writer, Wanderful World
For ages, I didn’t have any prices on my site and I’d get tonnes of inquiries from potential clients who either didn’t have the budget for me or who didn’t really know what they wanted. I think adding prices, first of all, sorts out the wheat from the chaff. Basically, you’ll only get people inquiring who fit your budget. Secondly, it cuts out clients who don’t know really know what they’re looking for and are shooting out inquiries to every freelancer under the sun.
Instead of adding exact prices (as every project varies) to my site, I added a “prices start from…” tag. I now see fewer inquiries from people who can’t afford me and have seen an increase in emails from brands who are serious about hiring me and are ready to do it.
Here’s a sample of Lizzie’s rates at the time of publication:
My copy packages are perfect for you if you want to refresh your image, inject a bit of brand personality into your site, or encourage more sales. Each project varies in scope, but standard copy package prices start at £300. My content marketing packages are perfect for you if you’re ready to really delve into the focus and future of your business. Each project varies in scope, but standard content marketing strategies start at £100.
5. Mallory Musante – Co-Founder, Bold & Pop
I’m one of the co-founders of a collective of social media, branding and web design freelancers. We have always included our prices on our website. I highly recommend it!
The main reason we decided to add our pricing to our website was to be completely transparent. We realized as business owners ourselves we prefer other companies that have their prices visible. That way you know if they are in your price range. Because of this, we added our prices to each package on our website and have starting prices so if they need a little more or a little less than that package, they know we can work with them.
I believe this has lead to more qualified leads for us and has also helped us avoid missed opportunities. Potential clients can clearly see if we are in their budget. No need to have that awkward pricing conversation where you’re way out their price range and they feel uncomfortable. On the other side, if we didn’t have our prices, potential clients that are in our price range may think we are outside of their budget leading to a missing opportunity.
Either way you look at it, this has helped us reach our target audience and work with some pretty amazing clients!
Here are the social media management rates that Mallory and her team charge at the time of publication:
Social media packages start at $2000. Packages that include up to 25 hours/week of social networking, influencer marketing and follower strategy start at $3500/month with a four month minimum retainer. PR services start at $200.
Here are a few other sources that will, hopefully, help you answer the question: How much should I charge as a freelancer?
Editorial Freelancers Association publishes a rate sheet for editors, proofreaders, writers and other professionals in the industry.
The Freelancer, published by Contently, crowdsources rates paid by some of the largest websites and print publications. It currently has 533 entries.
Who Pays Writers also crowdsources information from writers about how much they were paid.
There you go! Now that you have a clearer picture of how much other writers charge, will you make any changes in your rates? Would you consider publishing your rates on your website?