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How Do Freelance Writers Set Their Rates?

Freelance Writers’ Rates

I’ve seen advertised rates from $5/hour to over $200/hour. Why such a huge range? 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 prices 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 charge less for regular work (as opposed to occasional project work).

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.

Byline

A writer acting as a ghost writer for the listed author on the book 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 and the listed author will be exposed.)

Copywriting falls in between bylined and ghost writing: Although much of the work can be added to the portfolio, the writer’s client will often hold full copyright and moral rights, preventing the writer from being able to sell that copy to another client, even in somewhat altered form. So although the copywriter will often be able to include the work in a portfolio, the work may change over time without the writer’s input, and the writer’s name is not on the live version of the copy, e.g., the actual website, corporate blog, etc.

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. And that goes for me, too: Call me and ask any questions you’d like about my pricing, the way I work, and what I can bring to your organization. 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.

Request a quote!