2012 Freelance Writing Rates

That?  That'll get you ten pages of web content and a press release.
It's that time of year (my favorite)... it's time to recalculate your freelance writing rates for 2012!

If you're new to this field, this might be your first time calculating your freelance writing rates.  It's crucial that you set a reasonable rate so you don't short-change yourself (and so you don't kill freelance writing... but that's another post).

Let's get out the calculators and credit card bills.

Background on Your Freelance Writing Rates

What you need to know before you start calculating your 2012 freelance writing rates:

  • What's your writing speed?
  • What's your bill situation like?
  • How much "fun money" do you need?
  • What will you put back into your business in 2012?

2012 Freelance Writing Rates: Are You a Tortoise or a Hare?

First, let's figure out how much you can write in a day.  Do you work a few intermittent hours a day, or do you crank it all out from 8 to 5?

We'll say you work 5 hours a day.

How much can you write in an hour?  We only need an average, but factor in research, proofing and editing.  Let's assume you can write 400 words in an hour when you're doing web content, 200 when you're writing a press release or academic writing, and 500 when you're composing a sales letter or writing a blog post.

So a day filled with web content will get you 5 normal-length web pages; you can do one press release in a workday and you can write 6 blog posts.

Your Necessities

How much do you spend every month on bills (electric, gas, car payment, mortgage, phone, insurance, Internet and groceries?  (Your bare minimum 2012 freelance writing rates depend on the answer here.)  Let's work with $2,000.

2012 Freelance Writing Rates: Playtime

How much do you spend on fun stuff you could do without (Netflix, new clothes, Brazilian waxes) each month?  $500 sounds good.

Back to Work

Do you need a new computer this year?  How much will you spend on spiffy paper for query letters, stamps and a couple new coffee carafes for the home office?  Don't forget business cards, advertising costs and web hosting.  Let's say you'll put $2,000 back into your business in 2012 - and divided up over the course of a year, that's $167 a month you have to account for when you're calculating your 2012 freelance writing rates.

2012 Freelance Writing Rates: The Calculations

With the figures above, you'll need to make at least $2,667 a month... but you still have to pay taxes.  Let's add another $750 to be reasonable.  Now you need $3,417 - so we're rounding that up to $3,500 a month.

You work 5 hours a day, 5 days a week (it's just easier to calculate that way).  That's a little bitty 25-hour workweek - so you need to make $35 an hour.

25 hours per week x approximately 4 weeks per month = 100 hours
$3,500/100 hours = $35/hour

Great.  So your base rate - the very least you can charge to cover your... bills... is $35 an hour.  

The Minimums for Your 2012 Freelance Writing Rates

If everything above applies to you - the hours you work, the speed at which you write, and the amount of money you need to survive - these will be your bare minimum 2012 freelance writing rates.

An average web page should be around 400 words - and according to our calculations above, you can do one web page an hour.  The least you should charge for a page of web content is $35.  Not one penny less.

It can take you a whole workday to compose a press release - remember, you have to conduct interviews and ferret out facts.  The least you should charge for a press release is $175.

You can knock out a blog post in about 50 minutes.  The least you should charge for a blog post is $29.17 (and please, don't be that guy - just round it up to $30).

Padding your 2012 Freelance Writing Rates

We didn't account for unexpected expenses.  Your car takes a dump, the washing machine breaks or you become impregnated... and we didn't plan for any of it.

Your 2012 freelance writing rates need to be rounded and padded to provide you with a nice cushion when life knocks you down.

New minimums!  You can add whatever you're comfortable adding, but I personally believe each rate should be rounded up based on:
  • what you're worth (and be honest here - if you don't know what you're doing, you shouldn't be overcharging; however, if you're damned good at writing and can be considered an expert, you know how much to add to your minimum)
  • what you may need for emergency expenses
  • what you're saving
  • whether the client is a huge pain (but that one's on a gig-by-gig basis)
Let's say each rate should be upped by 20% to provide a significant cushion.

That gives us:

$42 web pages
$210 press releases
$36 blog posts

If you like oddball numbers, go ahead and bill them.  Remember, these are your minimums.

2012 Freelance Writing Rates: Forget the Minimums

Let me preface this by saying I'll only work for my minimums if I really, really like someone or if I'm in their will.  I'm not a freelancer just so I can scrape by - I'm a freelancer because I want to make a lot of money on my own terms and doing something I love.

So forget the minimums and charge what you're really worth.

And so help me, if you're out there charging $5 for a blog post and $20 for a press release... you're killing freelance writing, and I, for one, don't appreciate you demeaning the craft.

How did you calculate your 2012 freelance writing rates (I don't want to know what they are - I just want to know what system you used)?  If you need a more in-depth explanation, check out my post on setting your 2011 freelance writing rates.


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© Angie Papple Johnston 2011.

Don't steal from me or I'll come getcha. Really... I've got that kind of time.

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