As a beginner content writer, it can be hard to know how to set your hourly rate. Content writing prices vary a lot, and there are a few key factors to consider when setting yours.
Like any industry, content writing rates vary and depend on a writer’s experience, reputation, and the quality of their work. There are also different ways to charge for writing services instead of by the hour, including charging per word, per project, or on a retainer basis.
In this article, I look at how to set your content writing rates by the hour and the important factors to account for. I’ll also discuss setting your content writing rates in other ways, and the factors to consider when doing so. But first, let’s take a look at some average content writing hourly rates.
Average Content Writer Hourly Rates
The average content writing hourly rate varies depending on the niche and the experience level of the writer. However, you can expect to earn anywhere from $15 to $40 per hour as a beginner, and this can increase to $50-100 per hour for more experienced content writers with greater expertise.
Looking to enter the world of freelance content writing? Check out our article full of tips for beginners.
Arguably the most important factor that’ll affect your content writing hourly rate is your niche. Below is a table of some of the average hourly rates of different niches, to give you an idea of the kind of money you can make as a freelance content writer.
Content Writing Rates By Niche
|Content Writing Rate
|$20 – $40/hour
|Home & Lifestyle
|$15 – $30/hour
|$25 – $50/hour
|Science & Technology
|$20 – $35/hour
|$15 – $30/hour
|$30 – $100/hour
These are estimates based on the niches, and clearly you will be able to find jobs in each niche outside of these ranges. Clients may not offer an hourly rate in these niches and instead charge per project, meaning your hourly rate is affected by the rate at which you complete the work (more on that later).
The higher paying niches tend to be the more technical ones, or those that require more authoritative expertise (such as finance or medicine). Depending on your level of expertise, you can charge rates well above these estimates.
Average Content Writing Hourly Rate In The UK
According to Payscale, the average hourly rate for a freelance content writer in the UK is about £15 per hour. At the upper end of the range, freelance writers can earn as much as £30 per hour. The lowest rate is around £10 per hour.
However, it’s key to note that the numbers vary a lot depending on who you ask. However, Talent.com suggests a similar average to Payscale of £15 per hour.
Like any job, you can expect to start at the lower end of the scale and work your way up from there in terms of rates. As you can see, there’s a lot of potential for growth and the higher rates are a good incentive to master content writing skills quickly!
Average Content Writing Hourly Rate In The USA
According to Payscale once again, the average rate for content writers in the US is about $25 per hour. Like the UK, there’s a wide range of hourly rates that freelance content writers can expect to earn in the US. The lowest 10% earn around $15 per hour and the top 10% make upwards of $50 per hour.
How To Set Your Content Writing Hourly Rate
There’s an easy way to work out your hourly rate as a content writer. First, you need to identify your target annual income. This needs to factor in your regular outgoings, such as rent, food, utilities, taxes, and business expenses, as well as a profit margin.
Once you know your target annual income, you can work backwards to calculate your ideal hourly rate.
A Simple Formula
Let’s assume you’ve decided to work on content writing for 20 hours per week, 50 weeks of the year. You’ve also worked out that you need to earn $20,000 per year to make ends meet and turn a small profit.
To calculate your hourly rate, simply divide your target annual income by the number of weeks of the year you’ll work. Then, divide this figure by the number of hours you want to work per week.
So, in our example, this would be ($20,000 ÷ 50) ÷ 20 = $20 per hour.
However, this is a major simplification. It doesn’t account for extra hours worked and unexpected time off. It also doesn’t take into account whether you’re actually worth the hourly rate you calculate. But it does serve as a good starting point if you have no clue what to charge.
Don’t Forget Unpaid Hours
When calculating your hourly rate, you also need to factor in the unpaid work you do to run your business. This includes time spent on invoicing, marketing your services, managing your website, and other general overheads. You’ll probably find this adds up to around 10-30% of your total working time. So, it’s important to account for this in your rates!
Let’s now revise our above calculation to take unpaid hours into account. We do this by adding between 10-30% of the hourly rate we calculated. So, the hourly rate of $20 increases to between $22-$26 per hour to account for unpaid hours.
Okay, that’s the easy way to set your content writing hourly rate. But there’s more to it than that if you want to find success!
5 Things To Consider When Setting Content Writing Prices
1. Your Experience Level
The first and most important factor to bear in mind when setting your prices as a freelancer in any niche is your experience level. The same applies to any job really, as the more experienced you are, the more you tend to get paid. While you might have this decided for you in a 9-5 job, it’s on you as a freelance content writer to decide what you’re worth.
If you’ve been writing for 5 years, you’re likely able to charge much higher rates than someone that has only been writing for 5 months. And if you’ve got 20 years of experience in the niche, you can likely charge more than someone that’s been doing it for 3 years. However, it’s not just about how long you’ve been writing in the space.
Your Writing Experience
It goes without saying that you’re probably a decent writer if you plan to become a freelance content writer. So, assuming you have the basic writing skills down, it’s worth remembering that “experience in the niche” doesn’t necessarily mean experience writing in that niche.
For example, perhaps you spent 5 years working for a digital marketing agency. This probably provided you with some decent writing skills. But it’s also valuable experience that gives you knowledge about the industry that someone who has been writing (but not working) in the digital marketing space for the same length of time may not have. Hands on experience is often worth more than hands off experience.
The same applies for any other niche.
Worked on a farm for a few years? Agricultural content writing could use that experience!
Have a biology degree? There are blogs and businesses out there in need of that knowledge.
The more experience you gain, the more knowledge you tend to build up that other people don’t have. Clients will often pay a premium for this, making experience level a key factor to consider when choosing your content writing rates.
2. The Work You’re Doing
Next up, consider the nature of the work you’re doing.
- Is it long-form content that requires 3 hours of research per 1000 words?
- Is it a batch of short blog posts for a business’ website?
- Are you producing technical pieces that require very specific expertise?
You need to factor in how long it takes you to complete the work from start to finish. Don’t just include the writing time, as you’ll likely spend a big chunk of your time researching and planning the content. You’ll also be applying your expertise, with regard to knowing what to research and how to properly plan and lay out the content. All of this is worth charging your clients for, as they will know it’s not just the words on the page that they’re paying for.
Also consider what this work is for.
- Are they using it for a product landing page on a website?
- Are they using it for other forms of marketing?
- Is it informational content that will hopefully help them rank in the search results?
It’s likely that the content you’re writing is designed to earn the client money in some way, which they’ll see as a return on their investment.
If the 500-word piece of content is likely to generate them thousands of dollars in sales over time, it makes sense that you should charge more than $20 for it. But if it’s content that’s going on their personal blog’s About Us page, which is unlikely to be seen by too many people or directly convert any readers into customers, you probably won’t be able to charge $500 for it.
Clearly, there are a lot of nuances to consider here. Alongside what the writing is for, the type of writing is also important when deciding on your hourly rate.
3. The Type Of Content Writing You’re Doing
The type of content writing you do will also affect the rates you can charge. Let’s discuss why that’s the case with a few specific examples.
General Content Writing
General online web content writing (SEO writing, blogs, and “content mill” work) tends to pay lower per hour (or per word) than other types of writing. Despite the lower rates of pay, these are excellent ways to get your foot in the door of the writing industry. They allow you to develop relationships with clients and build up a portfolio of work.
In saying that, some experienced writers earn astronomical salaries in these categories. But this is the exception rather than the norm, so you should expect lower hourly rates for this kind of content writing.
Copywriting is one of the higher-paid content writing jobs. This includes writing for marketing purposes, press releases, and sales pages. Copywriters can change higher rates because the impact of their writing can be measured in terms of increased traffic, conversions, and sales. The more value you can generate for your clients, the higher the rates you can charge.
Highly technical forms of writing also pay significantly more per hour than other types of content writing. This includes technical white papers, business-to-business (B2B) content, and industry-specific documents. This is because they require specific knowledge of scientific, medical, engineering, or other specialized topics. Clearly this is only an accessible path for those with certain expertise.
Finally, ghostwriting books or other content is something of a lottery. While some writers earn huge salaries, others struggle to make ends meet. The hourly rates ghostwriters charge usually depend on the potential returns their work generates for their clients. Established authors will pay more, while those looking to break into the market won’t have as much to spend on a ghostwriter.
4. Who The Client Is
If you’re marketing your services to high-ticket clients, such as big businesses with a lot of money to spend, you can demand higher prices than if you market them towards small business owners. The difference in these price ranges could be an order of magnitude, so it’s key to understand who your clients are before you set your prices too high or too low.
If you offer writing services for small blogs, it’s unlikely that the blog owner has much spare cash or the blog traffic to justify spending hundreds of dollars on 500 words of content.
But if you plan to market yourself towards big brands or websites that see hundreds of thousands of visitors per month, you might be able to charge these kinds of prices. Getting access to these clients usually takes time or a strong network of connections – don’t expect to be charging dollars per word or $50 per hour as a total beginner!
5. Extra Services You Can Offer
This factor will vary in importance depending on what your main service is. But if you can offer anything above and beyond for the client, you can usually raise your prices accordingly. The best way to explain this is with a few examples.
Blog Post Extras
Let’s say you offer blog post content writing. If you can source images – be it stock imagery or your own photography – you might be able to charge extra by offering to include them in the content. This can save the client time as they don’t need to find their own images, and if you can put together bespoke photos or graphics for a post, they’ll usually expect to pay extra for it.
Another extra service could be search engine optimization (SEO), although many clients may expect this as standard. Perhaps you also offer internal linking within your content, meaning you’ll find some of the client’s relevant content to include – although many clients will provide you with links to include from the start.
The extras you offer will depend on the nature of your work and who your clients are, illustrating once more that all of these factors are intertwined. Now let’s talk about charging per word as a content writer.
Content Writing Prices Per Word
Content writing prices can vary from a few pennies per word to $1 or more, and it largely depends on the nature of the project and the experience level of the freelancer. The more experience and specific expertise the content requires, the higher the rate per word, as with hourly rates.
Beginner content writers will find projects on job boards advertising rates as low as $0.02 per word, and around $0.12 is usually the limit for these (typically) entry-level jobs.
On Fiverr, you’ll find freelance content writers offering 1,000 words of content for anywhere from $10 to $300 or more, or $0.01-$0.30+ per word. Other content writing clients may pay even more than this if you source them elsewhere.
What Is A Good Content Writing Hourly Rate?
The rate you charge largely depends on the nature of the work. If you’re a total beginner but you have solid writing skills, a good starting rate per word is something like $0.05 to $0.10 per word. However, you can definitely command more than this for the right clients, and $0.20 per word isn’t unachievable if you have a lot to offer other than generic writing.
But even $0.02 isn’t a bad rate if you find the work enjoyable and you can write enough fast enough to make a decent living. For example, if you can write (and edit etc.) 1500 words per hour at this rate, it translates to $30 per hour – not bad by any means.
But if the project requires half an hour of research and another half an hour of image or graphic creation, your hourly rate is cut in half to $15, which may not be enough for you.
Obviously, the better you are at writing and the more value you can offer your clients, the higher the rates you can charge. If you have expertise and proven writing skills, you can certainly earn 50 cents or even a dollar per word at the very top level.
How Much Should You Charge For 500 Words?
How much you should charge for 500 words as a content writer will vary depending on your niche, the service you offer, and the client. But if you’re an absolute beginner, expect about $0.05-$0.10 per word, making about $25-$50 for 500 words. If you’re more experienced, you might earn $100-$200.
500 word articles likely fall into one of two categories of content: short blog posts or short pieces of marketing content.
In the case of short form blog articles, the return on investment for the client is likely quite low. They can monetize the content with ads and affiliate links perhaps, but it’s not likely to be a massive revenue generator. You need to remember that as the writer, and so you might only be able to charge less than 20 cents per word (often less than 5 cents for beginners and for very simple blog posts).
But a 500 word piece of marketing content could serve as a business’ landing page for a specific product. You might be applying your own marketing expertise and insights and it may take you several hours to perfect it. The business is also likely to generate decent revenue from that marketing material, which allows them to pay more for it knowing they’ll get a faster return on investment than with a blog post. This means you may be able to charge closer to 20 cents or more for 500 words.
How Much Should You Charge For A 2000 Word Article?
2000 words is more likely to be a long form article, unless it’s 2000 words of smaller posts charged in one go. For the sake of this section, I’ll assume it’s a 2000 word blog post or other piece of website content. For this, you’re likely only going to be charging on the lower end of the scale. You won’t find many clients willing to pay more than $0.15 for this kind of post unless it’s heavy on the expertise requirements.
You could also be writing 2000 words of marketing material or some other content that is designed to convert readers into customers. In this case, you can usually charge anywhere from $200 to $2,000 if you’re an expert in the field.
How Much Should You Charge For A 5000 Word Article?
For 5000 word posts, it’s vital that you consider how long it’s going to take you to plan, research, write, and edit the content when you’re setting your rates, not just the number of words. This length of article may require hours either side of the writing process to add enough value for the client, so make sure to factor that in to the rates you charge.
Charging Per Hour vs Per Word
|Fair compensation for your time and effort
|Your effective hourly rate fluctuates depending on how fast you write
|Hard for clients to gauge the total cost for a project before it starts
|Easy for clients to set a fixed cost at the start of a project
|Your income is fixed, and the only way to earn more is to do more hours
|You can earn more by working faster
|You’re incentivized to take your time and provide quality work
|Easy to fall into the trap of adding more words just to earn more money
Choose Your Content Writing Hourly Rates Carefully
As a content writer, it’s essential to set an hourly rate that’s not just competitive but also sustainable in the long term. Always keep an eye on your competition to make sure you’re not overcharging or offering your services well below the going market rates for similar services.
When first starting out as a content writer, you might need to set a lower hourly rate until you start to build up your portfolio, credibility, and authority. But over time, there will be plenty of opportunities to grow your client base and increase your rates.
You may decide to avoid charging an hourly rate altogether. Instead, you might offer your services on a per-word basis. Or you might charge a project fee. Hourly rates aren’t for everyone, so don’t neglect these possibilities for your content writing business.
Setting the right rates is just one aspect of building a successful content writing career, and there are lots of other key content writing dos and don’ts to be aware of.
Chris is the creator of Freelance Ready. He originally started freelancing (on Fiverr) while at university, writing and editing website content. He created this website to share his freelancing experience and help others on their own self-employed journeys. He is now a freelance SEO consultant and content editor. You can learn more about Chris here.
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