2011 Freelance Writing Rates

Are you ready to work on your 2011 freelance writing rates?

The 2012 Freelance Writing Rates post has been published, although you may still find this one useful.

It's just about the right time of year to reevaluate your freelance writing rates.  2011 is right around the corner, and you may need to adjust your freelance writing rates to keep up with the current market.

If you're just starting out as a freelance writer, now's a good time to start setting your 2011 freelance writing rates; if you're a seasoned old scribbler like me, it's a good time for you, too!

Grab a pen... and a calculator... here we go.

Here's what you need to know to set your 2011 freelance writing rates:

  • How much did you charge in 2010? (If you're new, disregard.)
  • How quickly do you write?
  • How much do you need to make to pay your bills?
  • How much do you need to make to have 'fun money'?

2011 Freelance Writing Rates: How quickly do you write?

This is important because it's going to help determine the hourly and daily rate you need.

If it takes you three hours to write 500 words of basic web content, you're going to need to charge more (or get a lot faster) than someone who can do it in an hour.

Since a lot of web writing hovers around the 300-700 word mark and includes SEO, write down the number documents you can reasonably complete during your workday (if your workday is 4 hours long, use that as a base).

2011 Freelance Writing Rates: How much do you need to make to pay your bills?

Add up what your bills cost each month.  You can use this worksheet if it helps (that way you don't skip anything or add it twice).

Don't forget to account for 'fun money' - if you go out to eat twice a month or have a movie date with your significant other every Friday, you need to know how much you spend and where it's going to come from.

Every bill you have to pay is important.  If you pay a dog walker, drop that into 'miscellaneous.'  Savings, too.

If you won't have health insurance, toss the cost of that right in there - and if you're not going to buy it, plan to spend some out-of-pocket cash on medical and dental care.

Calculating 2011 Freelance Writing Rates

Ok, now that we have all your totals, it's time to do the math (yuck).

Let's say you absolutely must make at least $2000 per month to cover your bills and fun money.  To keep you on the safe side, we're going to add one half of that to the total and call it your bare minimum.

Now your bare minimum is $3000 per month.  (If you want to charge per-project fees, skip the blue parts.)

Calculating hourly 2011 freelance writing rates

*If you only want to charge an hourly rate, we're almost done.  However, that's not always the smartest thing to do... but let's say you're a die-hard hourly rate fan and you want to work 20 hours per week.  No more, no less.

There are 4.2 weeks in a month, so 20 hours x 4.2 = 84.  You'll be working 84 hours a month.  You need $3000 in that month to comfortably make ends meet.

$3000 per month/84 hours per month = $36 per hour.  Now skip down to the part about taxes.

Calculating per-project freelance writing rates for 2011

How quickly can you write a 500-word document?  In an hour, give or take 20 minutes?  Ok, let's go with 1 hour as an average per document.

How many hours are you able to put in (reasonably) in a week?  Kids need to be driven to school, babies need to play and grocery shopping needs to get done - so don't forget to juggle all your other duties.  Say you can work 20 hours a week (even though it may be early Saturday morning).

That means you can reasonably expect to put out about 20 documents per week.  Since there are 4.2 weeks in a month, you can put out 84 documents per month.

To make your $3000 per month bare minimum, divide your bare minimum by your projected number of documents.  $3000 per month/84 documents per month = $36.  That means you'll need to charge about $36 per 500-word document.  Now let's talk about how much we have to give to Uncle Sam.

Factoring Taxes into Your 2011 Freelance Writing Rates

To be on the safe side, let's assume you need to pay the government about 30% of your income in the form of taxes.  You can write things off, like printer ink, paper and that new computer - but it's best to err on the side of caution here... chances are slim that you'll be sorry you paid your taxes.

That $3000 per month bare minimum has to be increased to keep Uncle Sam from beating down your door.  30% of $3000 is $900 ($3000 x 0.3 = $900) - so now your bare minimum is the original $3000 + $900; you now need to make $3900 per month to pay your taxes, your bills and have fun money.

This changes things.  Now your per-project rate (or your hourly rate) has to be based on a $3900 per month goal - so here's the math:


$3900 per month/84 hours per month = $47 per hour.


$3900 per month/84 documents per month = $47 per 500-word document.

Every time you get paid, set that 30% aside and DO NOT TOUCH IT.  That way you're ready when Uncle Sam comes knockin'.

Don't forget, your 2011 freelance writing rates may include a combination of both hourly quotes and per-project quotes.

Extra Tips on Setting Your 2011 Freelance Writing Rates

When using per-project freelance writing rates, you may have to work more hours than you bargained for if you don't accurately estimate the time it'll take.  Always plan for this when you're putting your quotes together; that way, you'll err on the side of caution and end up making more money.

You won't always be flooded with work, either.  Sometimes, though, you'll have too much work.  Generally these things will average themselves out after you've been established for a while... but (and this but is bigger than Rosie O'Donell's) at first you might be struggling to find enough work to meet your bare minimum.

Pad every single quote you make as if you were writing at least one more hour or one more document for that project.  I can't stress this enough.  You're better safe than sorry, and doing this can keep you from the temptation of applying for a job at WalMart because you can't quite pay the bills.

Don't worry about charging too much.  If you're a damned good writer, which I suspect you are because you're learning everything you can to make it work for you, your clients will recognize your worth.

Remember, many of us have set our 2011 freelance writing rates much higher than this because we're worth it, and we do make a very comfortable living while paying taxes, saving money and working the number of hours we want to work.

How did you calculate your 2011 freelance writing rates?  Do you have any advice to new freelance writers that might help them set their own 2011 freelance writing rates?

Follow me on Twitter, join me on Facebook or subscribe to this blog via e-mail.

© Angie Papple Johnston, 2010; if you are reading this anywhere but on FreeFreelanceWritingTips.Blogspot.com, it's stolen.

Creative Commons License

Freelance Writing Tips by Angie Papple Johnston is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Based on a work at freefreelancewritingtips.blogspot.com.

"Tag Collage" image courtesy of Billy at stock.xchng.