When a freelance writer answers a call for submission, frequently the level of payment is indicated in the posting. It may be a fixed rate per article or a fixed amount per word. In applying for these types of jobs, the freelancer’s main job is to get hired.
But at times the freelancer will be contacted by a publisher asking them to quote a fee for a proposed job. Having work sent to you is great, but now you have another problem: What should you charge? Not so obvious to the new freelancer is an associated question: How should you charge? The nature of the proposed work will determine the best method for you.
Most people work at jobs that pay them a set rate per hour. This method of charging is open to the freelancer. If the freelancer chooses this option, their goal then is to set an appropriate market rate for their work. Technical writing that requires significant specialized knowledge can command $150 per hour. More generic writing may pay $15 per hour.
Freelancers also commonly charge a per-word rate for their work. Again, the challenge is to choose a market rate that is specific to the type of writing they are doing. Per-word rates can range from pennies per word to $10 per word.
A third option is to quote a set amount for the finished article, independent of word count or hours spent writing.
But there are other options besides these. If a project consists of dozens or even hundreds of separate smaller parts, then a fee for each item can be quoted. Some of the separate items may be short and easily finished in a brief time. Others may be longer and require extensive research. The freelancer should bill for each item accordingly.
If the freelancer’s work is a narrative that will be read as a commercial script or recited as a speech, then charging for the run time of the commercial or speech is an option. The range depends on the specific setting (national to local) and context (news vs. entertainment vs. educational vs. advertising). An example of this type of billing is $100 per 30 seconds of run time. The rates can go higher.
If the freelancer’s work is for a play or movie, they also may receive a percentage of the gross ticket sales in addition to a fixed fee.
Along with how much and how to charge is the question of when payment will be received. With long projects that may require the freelancer to block off weeks or even months of writing time, an advance is reasonable, along with periodic payments as parts of the project are completed.
Freelance writing provides a variety of opportunities. For the freelancer, one method of payment may not fit all the options available.