How Do Freelance Writers Set Their Rates?

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I’ve seen advertised rates for freelance writers from $5/hour to over $200/hour. Why such a huge range? Freelance writers set their fees based on many factors, and this results in some charging as little as $35 CAD per hour and others charging over $200 CAD per hour. (The Professional Writers Association of Canada gives a larger selection of price ranges.) Let me take you through a few considerations writers look at when setting their fees.

Expertise

This can include both subject matter expertise and writing expertise. An experienced writer in a highly specialized subject area will charge more. For example, a medical writer who has been writing about cardiology for 15 years will have a significantly higher rate than someone who opened up shop shortly after graduating with an MA in English and hasn’t settled on an area (or areas) of focus yet.

Sector

Some sectors are more popular than others, so you’ll have a wider pick of writers to choose from. Food writing, for example, is very popular these days. Writers with just a few years of experience in food writing will likely cost less than those of the same writing experience but who specialize in international taxation laws for corporations.

Your Organization

Some writers will have different rates depending on the size and legal status of your organization. They may, for example, offer discounts to non-profits or small businesses.

The Writer’s Location

Writers who live in a major metropolis, like Toronto or New York City, have a much higher standard of living to pay for and also live in a better-paying market. They will likely charge more.

Tools

Some writers use only their latest version of MS Office, which could date back to 2003. Other writers, though, may use a variety of software for writing and editing, pay for access to various research sources, and also use more advanced tools to help manage their business, which in turn means higher efficiencies for their clients.

Byline

A writer acting as a bona fide ghostwriter for the listed author on the book or blog will charge considerably more, because they can’t include that publication in their own portfolio. (If they could, then anyone could discover the true writer behind a book or blog and the listed author will be exposed.)

Ask About Rates

When you’re shopping around, ask writers about their pricing: they should be able to justify why they charge what they do. It’s important to know what you’re getting for the price. After all, you need to find someone you feel good about, because you don’t want to have to shop around again.

About the author

Lori Straus

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