WRITERS. Freelance writers have many choices in terms of how they want to run their businesses. You can either choose to excel in a specific type of writing and/or market. Or, you can diversify and pursue a mix of writing projects. Either way, it’s helpful to be prepared when a prospective client asks: What are your rates?
Here are links to three helpful resources for estimating writing jobs—whether you are quoting an hourly rate or on a project basis. These rates can vary considerably, depending on the nature of the assignment, the timeframe of the project, and the degree of expertise required.
Editorial Freelancers of America
This site recently posted an updated list of rates and estimated pace for 13 types of writing and editing jobs including: basic copyediting, heavy copyediting, developmental editing, indexing, book layout, newsletter layout, project management, proofreading, researching, substantive line editing, transcribing, translating, and writing.
For example, the range for proofreading is $30 to $35/hour, with the estimated pace being 9 to 13 manuscript pages per hour.
In Chapter 1 of the organization’s online “Code of Fair Practice,” the section on “Types of Freelance Editorial Work” describes what each of these writing and editing jobs entails. The code also contains a sample invoice and “letters of agreement” that can serve as a contract when the project is accepted.
Writing Assistance, Inc. is a staffing agency that specializes in freelance technical writers, medical writers, training developers, and copywriters nationwide. Their website features two useful charts that you can download.
The Freelance Rate Chart lists low, average, and high rates for freelancers with 11 different titles, including: copywriter, web content writer, software technical writer, technical editor, proposal writer, instructional designer, medical/science writer, technical illustrator, graphic designer, web designer, hardware technical writer (e.g. installation manuals), and software technical writer (e.g. user guides, online help).
For example, the rate for a copywriter with 5+ years of experience and a degree in journalism, marketing, or mass communications ranges from $45 to $95+/hr. Copywriting includes brochures, web copy, newsletters, direct mail, articles, ads, presentations, and re-branding.
A Guide to Estimating Writing Projects gives time estimates for common types of tasks in marketing communications, technical writing, and instructional design.
For example, writing a 500 to 1000 word feature article with photos, headings, and captions (and some subject material supplied by the client) can take 10 to 20 hours. Rewriting existing web content can take 1 to 3 hours per 350-word page, assuming that the client provides marketing objectives, competitor’s information, page descriptions, and some source material.
Writing a procedure manual for a new system can take 3 to 5 hours per page, which includes interviewing users to determine purpose and procedures and providing screen captures, graphic design, and diagrams. This assumes that the company supplies a template.
The book “Writer’s Market” (and its companion website www.writersmarket.com) includes a section called “How Much Should I Charge?” It featuers a detailed list of high, low, and average hourly and project rates for dozens of categories of assignments in 10 different fields:
- Advertising, copywriting, and public relations
- Audiovisuals and electronic communications
- Book publishing
- Business (annual reports, corporate periodicals, etc.)
- Computer, scientific, and technical (blogging, email, webinars, online videos)
- Editorial/design packages (desktop publishing, picture editing, photo research)
- Educational and literary services
- Magazines and trade journals
- Miscellaneous (comedy writing, family histories, resumes, etc.)
These categories encompass a wide range of projects, such as book-jacket copywriting, speechwriting, business film scripts, radio commercials, ghostwriting books, writing business plans, fact checking, and syndicated newspaper columns. Reading through this detailed list might open your eyes to new types of freelance-writing opportunities you might not have considered.
All Freelance Writing
This freelance writing blog features several useful calculators that can help ensure that you’re charging enough to meet your annual-income goals. On the site’s “Free Stuff for Writers” page you can find a freelance hourly rate calculator and a project-rate calculator. The hourly rate calculator includes instructions on how to convert your hourly rate into per word, per-page, and per-project rates. With the project hourly rate calculator, you can break down all of the time spent on a particular project to find out how much your hourly rate really was.
The site also includes an e-book sales conversion calculator that lets you calculate your conversion rate on e-book sales (e.g. what percentage of visitors to the landing page for your e-book bought the book). You can choose a target conversion rate, then calculate the number of sales you need to reach that goal.