How much should I charge for freelance work?
May 15, 2015 3:59 PM   Subscribe

I have been offered the chance to do some freelance work on the side while I'm on the hunt for permanent employment. But I don't know what to charge. Can you help?

I have been offered the chance to do some freelance work as an independent consultant. Here are some of the details:

3-month contract (with option to renew at the end of 3 months)
• Produce 4 blog posts and 1 email newsletter a week
• Write 1 downloadable white paper per month
• I'd be working remotely using my own equipment (laptop, cell phone)
• I'm not a recent college grad starting out in the business for the first time. In fact, I was asked in part of because of my experience in this field. This gig was offered as a way to earn some extra money and fill in a content gap currently missing in their offerings.

How much should I charge? Do I charge per piece of content? Per month? Per week? I honestly have no clue. I've done Googling around, and honestly, every bit of info seems to contradict the other.

I should also mention I'm not using this as a springboard to earn a permanent job with the firm. We'll likely go our separate ways once the contract ends.

Any thoughts?

Sorry, I have to keep it anonymous. Please email me at
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (5 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Your client will likely want you to bid this contract as a complete project, with agreed milestones and scope of work. If this will be your full-time job for the time period, you can pretty much come up with your bid for three months by dividing your expected gross annual salary for similar work by four, then adding some percentage to account for employer's half of payroll taxes (or similar if outside U.S.), insurance you have to pay for, and then a little more for negotiating room. If you'll be spending more like 20h a week than 40 on the gig, adjust accordingly.
posted by silby at 4:48 PM on May 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

I work as a freelance writer basically full time. On projects of this type, I bid an amount for the full project and, depending on the client and the phase of the moon either base my bid on a per word or per hour charge, but it basically comes out as a wash either way. I charge $0.50 a word, and count on writing 200 words an hour (so $100 an hour billable, if it goes that way). In practise, of course, once I'm at the keyboard typing away, I produce more like 1000 words an hour, but I have to factor in all the time I spend researching and brainstorming before I actually put fingers to keyboard.

There are clients, of course, that can't afford that rate and so I make an ad hoc judgement as to whether to offer them a lower rate (usually only in the case of non-profits) or not work with them.

I would use your insight about the client and either pitch them a price for the whole thing as a 3-month contract based on your estimated hourly commitment and an hourly rate you think is reasonable (I would hesitate to go below $50/hr), OR offer them a per word rate up front and invoice them biweekly based on your output. Neither will seem unprofessional.
posted by 256 at 5:34 PM on May 15, 2015 [4 favorites]

I write about education for a few different blogs. I get paid about $50 per article, which I could easily churn out in 30 minutes on a good day. That's about 400-600 words.
posted by guster4lovers at 6:11 PM on May 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

I assign lots of work like this. In general I agree with 256. I'd add that white papers typically pay more than blog posts, so if you base your monthly fee on word counts, which is probably the simplest way to go, then 0.50/word for blog posts and $1/word for the white papers is reasonable as a minimum. I'd also charge $1/word for the newsletter since it's most likely essentially a marketing vehicle to drive traffic somewhere. Of course, what you charge will depend on whether you're working for a small non-profit or a Fortune 500 company. In the latter case, you could charge more.

Also, if you are getting the job because of expertise, that could merit a higher rate.

Feel feel to MeMail me.
posted by bassomatic at 7:12 PM on May 15, 2015

I think the main consideration should be how long this will take you, and thinking about an hourly rate that makes it worth your time. I have a full-time job at a magazine, but occasionally do freelance work on the side. A "blog post" could conceivably range from something that requires interviews and quite a bit of research to a very short post that you can essentially write based on your existing knowledge. With one client, I have tiered rates based on the length and amount of work involved. Find out the exact details of what they want, if you don't already know. If you don't know how long it would take you to write a post, try one as an experiment. Likewise, for the email newsletter, what's involved? Typically things take longer than you might expect if you haven't done it before. The white paper will definitely be more involved.

Unless you're desperate for money, I would base this on what your time is worth to you ($100 an hour? $50? $25?) rather than what you think they might be willing to pay, and then only take the job if you get what you ask for. When you tell them your rates, I would lean towards listing it as a larger fee (weekly or monthly), but take a look at each option and what might sound best to the client.
posted by three_red_balloons at 11:26 AM on May 16, 2015

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