Setting Your Prices and Deciding Which Applies

From my last post on Payment Policies, Anne Wayman gleaned that there are basically four ways for writers to charge: per hour, per word, per page, or per project. Pricing methods might differ, but the price should equal about to about the same.  In other words, your hourly, per word, per page, or per project rate are just different ways of saying the same thing.

You might set your hourly wage first. For example, using the number of billable hours you work and your desired salary, you might set your hourly rate at $100. If you typically write 1,000 words per hour, your per word rate would be $.10 per word. And, if 250 words fit on a page (double-spaced, 12 point Times new Roman, 8.5x11, 1 inch margins), your per page rate might be $25. Or, if it takes 30 minutes to produce a page, then you might charge $50 per page regardless of the number of words. Full project quotes are often based on the number of hours it would take you to finish the project.

So if you have four different rates, how do you know which one to use to price your project? I base it on what the client has asked for and most often I use the per word and per project rate.

Many clients wanting articles or blog posts have a specific word count in mind, so I’ll quote based on that word count. Or, if they’re not particular about word count, then I bill upon completion based on the number of words actually written.

For bigger projects, like an ebook, I estimate the amount of time it takes to complete the project and then give a project quote. To give the client some perspective on what they’re paying for, I might break down the quote into the number of hours required for each piece of the project, for example, 10 hours spent on interviews and research, then 15 hours spent on writing.

If you’re quoting a per page rate for writing projects, then make sure you confirm the page size, margins, font type and size, and whether it’s double- or single-spaced. All that makes a big difference in the number of words that fit on a page and therefore the amount of time it takes you to produce a single page. Find out the specifications for the page, then see how many words fit on the page (use the Lorem Ipsum text if you need some dummy words). That will give you an idea of what to charge for each page.

For per page pricing on proofreading, editing, and other projects, use your hourly wage as a starting point. How long would it take you to proofread and edit one page?

It may be difficult to predict how many words or pages a project will end up being. And you may not be able to estimate how long it will take. In that case, you could use your hourly rate. You can bill the client in advance for a certain number of hours and re-bill when you’ve completed those hours. Or, you can bill the client after you’ve worked based on the number of hours you’ve actually worked. Either way, keep track of how much time you’re spending on that client’s work so you can account for your time if necessary.

If you haven't done so recently, this would be a good time to review your rates - hourly, per word, etc. - to make sure they're consistent. Be sure that your hourly clients aren't paying more for the same amount of work as the clients who pay by the word.

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LaToya Irby is a full-time freelance writer and a graduate of the University of Alabama. She primarily writes about personal finance, freelancing, and other self-employment topics.

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5 thoughts on “Setting Your Prices and Deciding Which Applies”

  1. There are two sites I’ve used to help with word and page count: and

  2. Definitely some good tips. I prefer by the hour, since that’s the easiest thing for me to guesstimate. If something requires a ton of research, I can usually guess how long. But if it’s by the word and requires oodles of research, I feel like I’m getting shafted. So it’s a tough call.

  3. If you’re working for corporate clients, I’d suggest to quote by the project, not by the hour. I stopped quoting by the hour some years back. An hourly rate doesn’t mean anything to a client without the context of a particular project. And if your hourly rate is high, it can scare them off (as they add up in their head what they THINK it’s going to cost…).

    More importantly, clients want to know what they’re looking at, investment-wise, so they can budget. The only time an hourly rate really makes sense (in my experience) is if you’re working on a project with very fluid/shifting parameters, and neither side really has a handle on what it’ll take to get it done. In those cases, it’s not fair for a client to expect you to provide a flat rate.

    Another BIG advantage to quoting a flat project rates comes into play if 1) you know you write fast, and/or 2) a scenario like this… Say you land an assignment to do a certain kind of project on a recurring basis, like a newsletter, or case studies (of a particular format), ads, etc.

    If you quote a certain flat rate on the first one, it’s just expected and accepted that you’ll charge that same fee for any and all that follow. Yet, over time, as you become more familiar with both their business and that project type, you’ll complete the projects in less time, effectively boosting your hourly rate – sometimes substantially. In many cases, I could eventually earn $200-$300 an hour for projects.

    If you were charging by the hour, as the time to complete one dropped, you’d end up making less per project. No sense in that!

    So, with all due respect, I don’t worry about my different rates all aligning. In fact, per the above, there’s a distinctive advantage to NOT having them align.



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