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Forum Talk: How Much Should I Charge for Contract Writing Projects?

Before you decide what to charge for your writing services, take into account the following questions, including if the project requires research or extensive knowledge, how long the project will take, and how much other writers are charging.
Writing on a notepad with a laptop.

It's one of the toughest questions of the freelance writing world—how much do I charge? Of course, new writers don't want to charge so much that they don't get any clients, but they don't want to shortchange themselves, either. When it comes to writing, there's more to consider than just the time spent putting words to paper—there's often research involved, image collection, and uploading to a content management system. That's why the question of how much to charge is a frequent topic among our forums.

There's no one-size-fits-all answer, but there is a way to pinpoint a price that's fair to both parties. Here are five questions to ask before you decide what to charge for freelance writing projects.

Topic: Does the project require in-depth understanding of a topic?

Writing without research, background, or personal knowledge is, well, fiction. Clients will pay more for projects that involve experience or extensive knowledge on a specific topic. That's why it's often a good idea to have a specialty niche or two—show that you have specific knowledge in a a subject, and you can charge more then if you just have a general understanding on a wide variety of topics.

Writers should also consider just how common the knowledge is as well. There are a ton of writers who are parents, so it's not uncommon for parenting blogs to pay just $10 a post. But, writers versed in a topic like plumbing or engineering are less common, so these writers are able to charge more and still find a steady stream of clients. That's why while a background in writing is important, it's beneficial to also have experience with another area.

Expertise: What type of writing project is it?

It's not uncommon for a writer to charge three, four, or even five times as much for a 600 word whitepaper than a blog with the same word count. Comparing the two, blogs are casual and easy to write, while a whitepaper is more professional and requires a bit more understanding of what a whitepaper is. The type of writing, and the expertise needed to write that type of document, should be factored into the price as well. Writers should charge more per word for a book than a blog, more for an in-depth scientific research article than an email.

Time: How long does it take you to write an article?

While many freelance writing projects pay per word or per piece, it's a smart idea to at least consider how much time will be spent on the project. What's your target hourly rate? What would you have to charge to meet that rate? It's a good idea to go a bit above your goal if you can, so there's room if the project takes longer then expected.

Competition: What are other writers charging?

While each individual writer brings a different range of skills, it's a good idea to consider what other freelancers are charging for similar projects. Use resources such as the charts in the front of the yearly Writer's Market books. Keep experience level in mind, too—beginners who don't yet have a portfolio may need to charge less to secure a few writing projects with which to create a portfolio.

Extras: What else is involved in the project?

Often, writing projects involve more then just writing. Research, pinpointing SEO keywords, and uploading to a content management site are often elements of blog writing, just to name a few. Make sure you are specific about what you're including in your price, and be willing to add on to that price if the client would like a little bit more work.

When determining what to charge for freelance writing, keep in mind that a higher price is often associated with a higher value. Most assume that the more something costs, the better the product or service. The key is to find a rate that's fair to you, but isn't so high that you can't get enough clients with it.

Interested in learning more? Join in on the conversation.

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