Professional writer rates: hourly vs per-word

Bank from Monopoly. A hand grabs one of the neatly organized 20-dollar billsLast time I wrote about the factors that go into determining your professional writer rate, and now I’m looking forward to actually getting down to the numbers. 

Below, I’ll show you how I arrived at my hourly and per-word rates so that you can use that to help you figure out what your rate is.  After all, all of the advice in the world is useless if it doesn’t actually get you to the final number, right?

Hourly vs per word rates: which is the better choice?

This is going to be something that may change from job to job and client to client.  If I’m working on jobs that are extremely wordy (ie: blog posts or website content), I charge per word.  If I’m working on jobs where I spend extra time researching, formatting, etc, I greatly prefer hourly rates.

Why?  Because sometimes my ability to write confidently is worth more (per word), and sometimes my time itself is worth more (per hour).  As you get used to working as a professional writer, you’ll learn just where your time goes, and how you can effectively charge for it for the best paycheque potential!

Determining the rates

And now for the numbers.  Setting my rates was something that I sat down and did properly with a pen, paper, and calculator. I would recommend doing the same just to make sure that you make the decisions consciously rather than just picking a figure out of the air.

  • Per-word rate: I knew that the standard rate for writers was $0.05 USD (aka 5 cents) per word.  Since I was just starting out as a professional freelance writer I decided to lower my rate a bit to help get people interested in me over “the other guy”.  So, I chose $0.03 USD (aka 3 cents) per word.  I arrived at this rate because I knew it was still going to be more than I was used to getting with a package price as a freelance writer on Fiverr.  The goal is to make sure that your per word rate is higher than your package rate!

    For example: on Fiverr, I charge $5 USD for a 500-word blog post.  For that exact same blog post, priced per word, I would get $15 USD. Immediately, the difference is clear!  If you do the math and find that your per word rate is lower than your package rate, you need to push your per word rate higher!
  • Per-hour rate: This one was a little simpler for me because I already knew how long it took me to work on a specific job.  Let’s stick with the same example of Fiverr’s $5 for a 500-word blog post that I offer.  On a good day, I can do 3-4 of those in an hour.  So, that rate jumps to $15-$20 per hour.  When I set my hourly rate with other customers, my minimum rate per hour is then $20.  That way my time is not “wasted” when I could be making more with per-word rates.

Take your time

When you are getting used to setting your professional rate, you may find that you accidentally undervalue both rates.  Don’t panic: you aren’t stuck.  Learn how much you undervalued by, and just bump up the rates at the next logical point (for example: at the start of a new calendar year).  

Questions?  Concerns?  Want more detail?  Let me know!  Or, share your own story about setting your rates as a professional writer.

Business content writing

Kelterss View All →

Kelterss is an experienced freelance business writer and holds a Bachelor of Arts in English with a concentration in Creating Writing. Having served over 1100 customers while maintaining a 4.9/5 star rating, Kelterss is looking to focus her professional services in writing product descriptions and blog posts.

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