Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Get Help Setting Your Freelance Writing Rates

A fair amount of traffic comes to The Writer's Blog asking how much freelance writing pays. The answer is that you can set your own freelancing rates. How do you do that so that you can remain competitive but not give your words away for well below what they're worth? Here are some tips:

Rates Research

-Do some research. A job bidding site like Elance, Guru, or GetAFreelancer can help. Beware, though, that many of these sites are filled with a majority of lower paying gigs because the freelancers often go into bidding wars. Because not everyone is in the same area with the same cost of living, the rates will fluctuate. That said, these sites can be worthwhile once you build a portfolio and impressive set of positive feedback referrals on the jobs you've done and can give you a ballpark of what clients are paying for particular types of writing jobs.

Job Postings

-Read job postings. You can find freelance writing job board sites that are forums and blogs, writing categories on classified sites like Craigslist, and you can Google for the type of freelance writing job you want. (Always be careful to avoid writing scams)

Check Out the Competition

-Look up writing rates on freelancer's business websites. Many freelance writers do not list their rates but you'll find some who do list general guidelines.

Calculate Your Needed / Desired Earnings

-Figure out how much you need to earn. Jennifer Mattern, an experienced freelance business writer, announced the release of a helpful freelance writing rate calculator on her blog yesterday. This calculator takes into account your desired annual income, your desired hourly rate, and other factors to help you figure out your rates and how much you need to work to meet those goals.

An important factor to consider in setting your freelance writing rates is that not every moment you work is billable. You'll be marketing, quoting, looking for work, doing administrative work, doing revisions to writing work, and doing other tasks that won't net you a rate per word or per hour. Be sure to keep your overall time spent working as well as to consider your business-related expenses such as: membership fees, private health insurance, taxes, office supplies, and the cost to use the technology needed to do the writing job.

It could take time for you to make the rates you want and there's nothing wrong with using stepping stones to help you develop a profitable freelance writing business but keeping in mind how much your time is really worth can help you set helpful goals that are attainable.

(photo: http://www.sxc.hu/profile/ba1969)


Jenn Mattern said...

Thanks for mentioning the new freelance rate calculator at All Freelance Writing Dana! I'm glad you found it useful. :)

Dana Prince said...

Thanks, Jenn. It was useful. I now know a daily target to strive for financially so that I can meet my goals regarding earning and life balance.


RACNicole said...

Hi, this is Nicole from Rent a Coder. Rentacoder provides access to programming, writing, illustration, even data entry jobs. (You can get a sense of the broad scope of work available here: http://www.rentacoder.com/RentACoder/SoftwareCoders/BrowseWork.asp).

I'd like to point out a few issues with using services like Elance, Guru, and Freelancer (GetAFreelancer) since those issues could influence your satisfaction and earnings.


Workers on Elance cannot place more than 3 bids a month unless they pay a subscription fee ($9.95/month for 20, $19.94/month for 40 or $39.95/month for 60). The majority of sites do not charge subscription fees.

Guru charges 10% in fees (5% if you pay for upgraded membership). In addition, Guru also charges $29.95/quarter - $129.95/quarter in fees. Plus workers on Guru are charged a 2% fee for arbitration. They are also charged 2.5% if the buyer uses Pay Pal, or charged up to 4% if the buyer uses a credit card.

Rent a Coder does not have any subscription fees or any other types of hidden fees. Our project fees are as low as 6% and we guarantee all types of unlimited work.

Escrow/Guarantee of Payment:

With pay-for-time type projects, neither Guru nor Freelancer allows you to verify your time on pay-for-time projects by punching in and out of a real-time system, and conclusively prove to the buyer that you were working. As a result they do not guarantee payment, and if the buyer does not wish to pay you, you may end up with no money.


Elance charges $66.66 or $133.33 for each arbitration, which may make it too expensive to be a legitimate option on your project. In addition, a buyer intent on abusing the system can stall the start of arbitration on Elance for 21 business days and during this period your money is not available to you. You also won't find any detailed rules on how Elance arbitrators make their decisions.

Guru's mandatory pre-arbitration processes allow an abusive buyer to stall the start of arbitration (and prevent you from accessing your money) for weeks. For example, Guru allows buyers up to 20 days in mandatory mediation before the site will force them into arbitration. You also won't find any detailed rules on how Guru arbitrators make their decisions.

Freelancer limits arbitration to projects with milestone payments of more than $30. And its mandatory pre-arbitration processes allow an abusive buyer to stall the start of arbitration (and prevent you from accessing your money) for weeks.

At Rentacoder, we offer arbitration on all projects free of charge and we test your deliverables to make sure they meet requirements so that you can get paid. We also prevent abusive buyers from stalling the start of arbitration. As a result, 45% of our arbitrations are completed under a day. 75% under a week. We additionally publicize the detailed rules of how our arbitrators make their decisions.

There are other differences as well. I invite everyone to compare the 7 major services through this link to learn even more: http://www.rentacoder.com/RentACoder/DotNet/misc/CompetitorInformation/WhyRentACoder_ForSellers.aspx

I want to especially caution against looking for jobs on sites like Craigslist. Our site offers live support via email or chat or phone seven days-a-week. And it has a requirements wizard and a project posting wizard to help you build a project that's easy for workers to understand. Craigslist certainly doesn't offer this type of support because it was never designed to. Craigslist is a classified ads site where we're an international 3rd party online international marketplace for contracted employment. We're the only service that offers support on this level.

If you have any questions, please let me know. You can also call in to talk to a facilitator 7 days a week, or email us (see http://www.rentacoder.com/RentACoder/misc/Feedback.asp).