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Get Your Pricing Right and Make Money as a Freelance Writer

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I recently decided to create a profile on a bidding site. This morning I received an e-mail with a few recommendations of jobs they think will match my profile. Two of them were quite interesting and the budget seemed reasonable, but the third just got my blood boiling! This is what it said:

Premium Writer Required for 1500 Word Article (Budget $25)

A 1500-word piece for $25! Are they insane? A standard writer who doesn’t have to survive on writing as an income, maybe. But a premium writer?

So I decide to read through it anyway and waste another 2 minutes of my time.

I am looking for an article writer to help write original article for my travel blog. If I am satisfied with your work, you’ll get additional work.

– Only for individual writer
– Only native english speaker
– Article must be 100% original and pass copyscape
– The total amount of articles needed is (2) for a total price of $25

So there it happens! The scope creep of creeps! A whole article scope creep. At first, this employer wants one article of 1500 for the $25 pittance, of which the writer will only get about $20 after the bidding site’s fee. Now this doubles up to two articles for that very same $20 after deductions. 3000 words for $20 doesn’t seem so inviting anymore, does it? When I started out as a freelancer, I still had a full-time job and starting out at $2 per 500 words back then was a terrible rate. $3.33 For a premium writer today simply breaks my heart.

Let’s Do the Math

If you need $1500 to survive per month, and you’re getting $20 per 3000 words, this is how many words you will need to push out per day, every day just to get by. Let’s say the average article is about 500 words.

  • You’re earning about $3.33 per 500 words.
  • You need to earn $50 per day on a 30-day month.
  • You will need to write 15 articles per day, every day.
  • If it takes you 20 minutes to write a 500-word piece, you need to invest five hours of non-stop writing to make this target.

The Reality

When you do the math and see that it only requires five hours of solid writing every day to push out those pieces, bear in mind that the income example is below the poverty line. Also, this is based on spending only 20 minutes on a 500-word piece, which is not always possible. At times, you will need to hyperlink, do research, and find suitable images. This all adds up and before you know it, you’ve spent 45 minutes on a $3.33 job. Does this even cover your utilities?

There is also the assumption that you will have a non-stop flow of 500-word articles priced at $3.33 a piece, or similar, to keep the flow going. When you have a few clients providing you with steady work at that rate, you will find it hard to go out and look for work where the rate is reasonable. These types of jobs will keep you busy for hours and you will only survive, while the point of being a freelance writer is to thrive.

Stop the Madness! Pricing Guide for Writers on Bidding Sites and Content Mills

Value your skills and start requesting a decent rate for your work. There are many in the industry who won’t agree with me when I recommend these prices, but it’s important to get your foot in the right way.

Newbie

A friend told you about the wonders of freelance writing and you envy her traveling lifestyle. You work for hours a day trying to find the correct sites for research, as you found out the hard way that Wikipedia is not the best starting point.

  • You have no prior writing experience, apart from essays in school.
  • You have no portfolio of evidence.
  • You have no blog.
  • Expect to earn 0.5c to 1c per word.
  • Do not stay in this category for too long.
  • If you only write one article a day, expect to move out of this category within one to three months.

Rising Talent

You’ve gone onto a few job boards and have picked up some horrific, non-paying customers. This led you to the content mills and now you’re furiously typing away. You hope to move up to the next category within a few weeks, but those pesky article thieves and low raters are just blowing it for you. You’re desperate for change but too busy to do anything about it. This is the most dangerous category and shouldn’t last for more than three months.

 

  • You write about anything and everything.
  • You have quite a few articles as a portfolio of evidence, but none published.
  • You have a blog, but not one you’re happy to use as portfolio work yet.
  • You rely solely on the ratings of content mills and bidding sites to prove your writing ability.
  • Expect to earn 1c to 2c per word.

Fairly Established

Some big names rely on you to get their basic writing done such as landing pages and more. You’re still only writing ghost articles but at least you can trace them now. Your rate is fairly decent and you no longer need to pull those all-nighters to get the job done before the next payment cycle. You’ve even managed to move beyond the content mills and bidding sites.

  • You finally have a blog that you’re proud of and starting to monetize it (should have done this from the beginning, but everyone’s scared right?).
  • Advertisers approve your advertising requests and the money is starting to come in.
  • Your portfolio of evidence is now crossing the different genres and you almost have a writing sample for every type of job posted.
  • You’re starting to focus more on specific topics.
  • You visit the content mills and bidding sites just to fill up the income before month end.
  • You can easily charge anything from 3c to 7c per word.
  • You can afford to be a bit pickier in your projects.
  • Expect to move on from here withing 3 months of solid work and self-marketing.

Established

It took you a while to get here, and after many rejections, pitch alterations, blog post entries, and filler jobs, you finally get paid the rate you’ve always wanted. You write three to four articles per day and some of these articles take a few days to complete. The income generated on your affiliate links take care of the bread and butter at home. Advertisers are now approaching you and you now decide who to promote.

  • It’s not unusual for you to have at least 4 to 7 streams of income by now.
  • You have top-rated clients who refuse to deal with other writers.
  • Your writing is helping you exceed your financial goals.
  • You spend less time writing and more time marketing and networking.
  • Asking anything below 8c a word is a labor of love, which you can afford to do now.
  • You’re starting to refer clients to other writers in your circle as you can’t keep up with the demand.

The Shortcut

These only serve as a guideline and should help writers gain some perspective on their writing careers. Often, the biggest problem is getting stuck in a category for too long. Writers who don’t have a writing background often have to start from the bottom and work their way up. Those who have a writing background will find this process much simpler. Writers who happen to have a marketing background will probably start off with the multiple streams of income off the blog first, therefore, probably bypass the entire writing-for-peanuts phase.

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2 thoughts on “Get Your Pricing Right and Make Money as a Freelance Writer

  1. Jordan Nunamaker says:

    Wow, I absolutely love the way you wrote this article! I’ve read a couple of blog posts elsewhere about how to decide what to charge for freelance writing, but this is exactly what I’ve been looking for. Thank you so much!

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