You’ve been freelancing for a while now and have started to build up your portfolio and client base. That’s great, but now it’s time to talk money. Negotiating a fair rate for your freelance writing services is key to running a sustainable business. If you go into a negotiation unprepared or unaware of your worth, you could end up settling for a bad deal that undervalues your time and talents.
Know Your Worth: How to Determine Fair Freelance Writing Rates
To get the rates you deserve as a freelance writer, you need to know your worth. Do some research to determine typical pay for your level of experience and the types of writing you do. Check sites like Glassdoor, PayScale, and The Creative Group for freelance writing salary data.
Talk to other writers in your network and ask what they charge for different projects. Find out the going rates for the specific types of writing you do, like blog posts, case studies, white papers, or email newsletters. Knowing the range of typical fees will give you a good starting point.
Calculate your own minimum and ideal rates based on your experience, education, samples of your work, and cost of living. Don’t sell yourself short. As you gain more experience, reevaluate your rates and increase them accordingly.
When a new writing opportunity arises, determine how much you need to charge to make the work worthwhile before naming your price. Think about the amount of research, planning, and time required to complete the project, as well as ongoing responsibilities like updates or edits. Come up with a range, rather than one set price, so you have some flexibility in your negotiations.
Do your homework and go in with confidence. If a client is unwilling to meet your minimum rate, walk away. Don’t accept a poor deal just to gain more experience or add to your portfolio. Have a backup plan to find other work so you’re in a position to negotiate the best possible rates and contracts. Know your bottom line and hold firm to get the pay you deserve. With the right preparation, you’ll be well on your way to landing freelance writing gigs that properly value your time, skills, and expertise.
Do Your Research: Learn Typical Rates for Your Level of Experience
To get the rates you deserve, you need to know the going rates for writers at your experience level. Do some digging on sites like Glassdoor, PayScale, and The Creative Group to find out typical freelance writing rates for your niche and years of experience.
For example, in this regard, Ashley Cummings, a leading B2B, SaaS writer, says,
Anyway, according to my research, writers with over eight years of experience will charge upwards of $1-$2 per word for a long-form blog post. And it will be worth every penny.
Rates also vary significantly based on your writing niche and expertise. Writers in technical, medical, or finance niches, for instance, typically earn higher rates than generalists.
Don’t sell yourself short. If a client’s budget seems way too low based on these benchmarks, stand up for yourself in a professional, data-driven way. Explain that based on industry standards and your background, you would expect to charge $X per hour or $Y per post. Provide specific examples of your relevant experience to strengthen your case.
Some clients may still not budge, and in those cases, you’ll have to decide whether the work is worth it to you. But many times, clients just aren’t aware of typical rates and will agree to negotiate to a fair price if you come prepared with facts. The most important thing is knowing your worth — that way you can spot the good deals and walk away from the bad ones. Your time and talents are valuable, so make sure you’re paid what you deserve!
Come Prepared: Build Your Case Before the Negotiation
Do your research
Before negotiating with a client, make sure you thoroughly research standard rates for the type of writing they want. Check the “Going Rates” survey from The Editorial Freelancers Association for average rates in your area of expertise. Look at job listings for similar positions to see the range of rates companies are offering. Know your bottom line — the minimum rate you can accept to make the work worthwhile — so you go in with realistic expectations.
Build your case
Come prepared to explain why you’re worth the rate you’re requesting. Discuss your relevant experience, expertise, and references or testimonials from past clients. Bring copies of samples that demonstrate the quality of your work. Explain the value you’ll provide, like search engine-optimized content, well-researched pieces, or high-converting sales copy. The more evidence you have to support your rate, the stronger your negotiating position will be.
Consider project details
Rates can vary significantly based on factors like word count, complexity, research required, and deadline. A short blog post for a small company may command a lower rate than an in-depth tech article for a major publication. Be prepared to adjust your rate based on the specific needs and constraints of the project. Ask the client for details about content types, topics, lengths, deadlines, and target keywords so you can determine a fair rate for that particular job.
While negotiating, remain courteous, reasonable, and professional. Don’t get emotional or attack the client personally. Calmly reiterate your case if they claim your rate is too high. You may need to compromise to some degree to meet their needs while still ensuring the work is worth your time. However, be willing to walk away from deals that severely undercut your worth. Accepting poor compensation now can damage your ability to command fair rates in the future.
With the right preparation and a professional approach, you can negotiate writing deals that benefit both you and your clients. Do your homework, know your worth, build a strong case, and stay flexible but firm in your rates. Finding that win-win balance will lead to long-term relationships and success as a freelance writer.
Start High: Aim for the Upper End of the Range
When negotiating your freelance writing rates, aim high. Ask for the upper end of the typical range for that type of work. Don’t sell yourself short just to get the gig.
Do Your Research
Check industry reports and surveys to determine standard rates for the type of writing you do. Sites like The Balance Careers, Glassdoor, and PayScale can provide useful data. Talk to other freelancers in your network to get a sense of what they charge for comparable projects.
Know Your Worth
You have a unique set of skills, experiences, and talents that add value. Don’t be afraid to charge what you’re worth. If you consistently underbid, you’ll start to resent the work and struggle to make a living. Think about your expertise, education, portfolio, and client references that allow you to command higher pay.
Start with a Range
Rather than quoting an exact figure, provide a range of rates that spans from your ideal rate to a little lower. For example, “My rates for blog posts of this scope typically range from $75 to $100 per post.” This gives them room to negotiate without going too low. You can then have a discussion to determine what’s fair based on their needs and budget.
Be Willing to Walk Away
Don’t feel pressured to accept a rate that is far too low just to get a new client. Politely stand up for yourself and your stated range. You may say something like: “I appreciate your interest in my work, but $50 per post is below my typical minimum. My rates are $75 to $100 for this type of content. Please let me know if you would like to negotiate something within that range.” If they can’t budge, walk away — there will be other, better-paying opportunities.
With the right mindset and preparation, you can negotiate writing rates that you feel good about. Don’t sell yourself short — aim high, know your worth, start with a range, and be willing to walk away if needed. The more you negotiate, the easier it will get.
Be Willing to Walk Away: Don’t Accept a Bad Deal
Know Your Worth
As a freelance writer, you need to know the value of your time and skills. Do some research to determine typical rates for the type of writing you do. Check sites like Glassdoor, PayScale, and The Creative Group to see what other writers with your experience are charging. If you have published clips or work samples, be prepared to share them with potential clients. Having a clear sense of your worth will make you much more confident when negotiating rates.
When a new opportunity arises, don’t be afraid to suggest a rate on the higher end of the typical range. The client will likely try to negotiate down, so you’ll end up somewhere in the middle. If you start too low, however, you’ve lost the opportunity to earn what you’re really worth. You can always say something like “Based on my experience and expertise, my standard rate for this type of work is $X to $Y per hour (or per word/project). How does that fit with your budget?”
This gives the client an opening to come back with a counteroffer, while still anchoring the conversation at the higher end of your range.
- Don’t budge if a client says your rate is too high. You may need to walk away.
2. Explain why your rates are reasonable based on your skills and expertise. Help the client understand the value you provide.
3. Offer a trial period at a discounted rate. This allows the client to see the quality of your work before committing to your full rate. But be very clear that your rates will increase after the trial.
Be Willing to Walk Away
If a client is unwilling to pay you fairly for high quality work, you may need to walk away from the deal. Taking on work for less than you’re worth sets a bad precedent and undervalues your abilities. There will always be more opportunities that properly appreciate your talents. While turning down work can be difficult, staying true to your worth and not accepting bad deals is essential for building a sustainable freelance business. The ideal clients will recognize your value and be happy to pay your rates. Don’t feel pressured into accepting less.
You’ve come this far, so don’t sell yourself short now. Know your worth and stand up for it. While some clients may try to take advantage of writers, you have the power to say no. Negotiate rates that properly value your time, experience, and talent. If a client won’t budge, walk away. There are more freelance writing opportunities out there, so don’t feel desperate. With confidence in your abilities and a willingness to advocate for yourself, you’ll find the rewarding, long-term clients that make freelancing worthwhile. You deserve nothing less. Now get out there, craft those pitches, and start negotiating the deals that will move your freelance writing career forward. You’ve got this!
Cummings, A. R. (2023, March 17). Freelance Writing Tips — Ashley R. Cummings | Freelance Writer. Ashley R. Cummings | Freelance Writer. https://www.ashleyrcummings.com/news