Nuts and Bolts

Here’s something that people new to the freelancing game get hung up on. What to charge? It can be tricky, and the reality is that in the earliest days of your new career, you’re not going to have a lot of choice in the matter. On a lot of the content mill type sites (hire writers and text broker), the buyer sets the price, and you either accept the job or you don’t. That’s a good way to get started and make a name for yourself, but in the long run, you’re gonna want to be the one to set price.

When you’re first starting out, don’t be surprised if you’re barely making a cent, or a cent and a half a word. Remember, you’re competing head to head with guys from developing countries who can speak English JUST well enough to write passingly good content. If you’re a native English speaker (and assuming, of course, that YOU have a reasonable command of the English language–which isn’t always a safe assumption, I know!), you can blow them away, quality wise, and get better rates (eventually), but to start out, you’re gonna need to get in the mud and do the work.

Here are some guidelines I use. Feel free to copy them, or not. Don’t be bashful about what you charge, and don’t feel that you’ve got to charge the same rate to every client. There’s a give and take involved here. Some clients are super to work with, but they just don’t have a lot of money. Be willing to at least entertain the idea of accepting less than your going rate, especially if you have a client who’s super nice and easy to work with, but doesn’t have a lot of cash. Remember that it’s more important to fill up your writing “dance card” every day than it is to stick to your guns on price. The former will get the bills paid. The latter will leave you struggling. Be smart about it. Anyway, that said, the guidelines I use are just below, along with the kinds of writing I most commonly do:

Vel’s Rate Sheet:

  • Blog Posts/Online Articles (500-750 words) $50 -$200 (depends on whether research is needed or no)
  • E-Newsletters $100-$300 depending on length and formatting requirements
  • Landing Pages $500 and up (tops out around $1k depending on what’s needed)
  • PPC Ads: $75 (no keyword research) / $150 (with keyword research)
  • Promotional Mailers (email) $500-$750 (bulk pricing available)
  • Sales Letters: $2000 to start (can go much higher, depending on what’s needed), plus royalties (start with 5% and negotiate from there)
  • VSL’s (Video Sales Letter) Scripts: $250 per screen minute
  • White Papers/Technical Pieces (1000-2500 words) $250-$400 (research will definitely be needed)

Ultimately, what matters is that you charge what your clients are willing to pay, and that every day you want to work, you fill up your “dance card” for the day so you’re not sitting around with your thumb up your ass. There are few feelings worse than KNOWING you’ve got bills to pay, and having zero jobs lined up. You’ve got to become a gig chess master and think several moves ahead if you want to thrive. There’s just no other way.


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