How to Set Your Prices

Setting your pricesOne of the most important, and difficult, things for a writer to do is set their prices.  Many people worry that if they set their prices too high, they won’t be able to find any clients.  If they set their prices too low, however, they won’t be able to make a living.  Some people make the mistake of starting out with extremely low prices, thinking that they will build a reputation and then be able to increase their price per word.  Others think that they aren’t a good enough writer to be able to demand the payment they desire.

The fact is, however, that like virtually all markets, there are customers at virtually every price point.  Writers can earn anything from $.005 per word all the way up to several dollars per word.  There are many factors which go into determining how much someone can make as a writer.  I’m not writing this to try to tell you what you should be making (though I’d be happy to work with you directly to try to figure that out).  I’m not even here to say that it is good or bad to write at any specific price point.

For some people, writing at $.005 per word is entirely acceptable.  For others, writing for $.50 per word isn’t worth their time.  Everyone is different, has different skills, goals and other factors which will go into determining how much they should be making.  For example, some people enjoy hammering out SEO content as quickly as they can, without having to worry too much about quality.  These people will likely get anywhere from $.01 to $.04 per word, depending on their talent and how well they market themselves.  Others enjoy doing extremely high quality, well researched writing that may take them several hours per article, and for them, charging $.10 per word and up is the right way to go.

How to Determine Your Price per Word

One of the first things you should do as a writer is try to figure out how much you want to make per word.  If you’re looking to write full time, you should figure out how much you need to make per year (or month/week/day) and then figure out how much you need to charge to meet that goal.  Remember to include the fact that you need to spend time marketing yourself, writing, and managing your business (sending invoices, keeping track of expenses, ect).  Some things to consider:

  • How fast do you write – Some people can turn out a good quality 500 word article in 10 minutes.  Others will require an hour.  Knowing your own speed is important.
  • Exchange Rate – A writer in the United States or the UK will likely need to charge quite a bit more to make a living than someone would in the Philippians or another country.  Take this into account when determining your prices.
  • Urgency – Unfortunately, there are times in people’s lives where you need to earn money quickly.  In these cases, it may be necessary to get some work quickly at a lower price.  Even turning to content mills may be a necessity, but don’t let urgency dictate your long term prices.  Always be working toward getting to your desired price per word.
  • Skill – You need to be honest about your own writing ability.  If you are a great writer, you will have the ability to make more than someone who can barely speak English.  This is just a fact.  While you can take steps to improve your writing, you also need to start out by looking at where you are today and set your prices based on that.
  • Location – There is a large market for US, UK, Canadian and Australian writers.  If you’re from one of these countries, the chances are you will be able to charge more than someone from other countries.  In addition, you’ll have less trouble getting clients. Keep this in mind when setting your price.
  • Specialization – Something that is very important to keep in mind is whether or not you specialize in any specific type of writing.  I have a lot of experience with information technology, including several professional certifications.  Therefore, when someone hires me to write in this niche, they are going to pay a premium.
  • Discounts – Another thing to think about while determining your prices is what, if any, discounts you will be offering.  Most writers offer bulk discounts when someone orders more than 10,000 words at a time (you can set this number wherever you’d like).  I offer discounts when clients are willing to publish the content in my name, with a link to either my website or my Google+ profile.  There are many different types of discounts that writers can offer.
  • Wiggle Room – There will be times when you get a client who just wants to feel like they are getting a deal.  If you quote them $.10 per word, they may come back saying that your prices are a little high.  Basically, they just want to get a discount, so it may be smart to offer to write for $.09 per word.  Being able to negotiate is important for a writer.

While thinking about all of these things, come up with the absolute minimum amount you will write for.  In my case, for example, I won’t write anything for less than $.025 per word ($12.50 for a 500 word article).  The only people who get that price are those that order a lot from me, have been my clients for a while, and whose articles don’t take too long to write.  I’ve factored everything in, and that is my rock bottom price per word.

With that in mind, I then have to set my ‘normal’ rate.  In my case, I have it set at $.05 per word for most normal articles.  When I am negotiating with a new client, I let them know that most types of regular writing will cost $.05 per word.  Included with that is the actual writing, any necessary research, and reasonable edits to the final product to ensure they are happy.

Some writers will laugh at me because they think the price is far too low.  Others will question whether I can actually get clients at that price.  One of the most important things I’ve learned is that it doesn’t matter what other people think about your prices.  You can change them in the future (though writing for cheap today, won’t help you in the future) so figure out what works for you today, and go from there.

Once you have your prices set (especially your rock bottom price) DO NOT compromise on that.  Many potential clients will try to talk you down as low as possible, and you need to be able to stand firm, even if it means losing a job or two.  In a great many cases, I’ve stood my ground and had the clients come back to hire me at my desired price.

This is a difficult part of being a writer, but it is also extremely important or you’ll end up writing for far less than you’re worth.  Take the time today to figure out what you should be making, and then work on learning what you’ll need to do in order to find clients that will pay you what you are demanding.

If you have any questions about this process, please don’t hesitate to contact me directly at, or leave a message in the comments.

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  1. says

    Solid advice, right there.

    Currently, I’m trying to learn as much as possible about this whole content writing business. Learning different types of writing, different styles, onpage optimization techniques, specializing in several niches, etc.

    One more thing I’d like to add: would you feel right paying what you charge to someone who delivers the same quality that you do?
    JR John recently posted…How To Research A Niche For A High-Converting BlogMy Profile

    • says

      Thanks for the comment! I think that is a great question to ask, ‘Would I be happy paying my rates and getting my results.’ I think I would be, but that is a great question to ask at first!


  2. Mark says

    Please explain what you mean by “‘normal rate'” as opposed to “rock-bottom” rate. Your normal rate is much lower than your rock-bottom rate.

    • says

      My normal rate is the base amount I charge without any discounts for bulk orders or anything like that. This rate is $.05 per word (five cents per word). My rock bottom rate is only for people who get a variety of discounts, and works out to be $.025 per word (two and a half cents per word), which is about half of my normal rate. Sometimes it looks confusing because of the half a cent per word I have on there for the rock bottom rate, so it appears to be twenty five cents, but it is not. 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting!


    • says

      Absolutely. I never spin articles. The closest I get to ‘spinning’ is reading a few articles on a subject that I’m writing about as research, and then writing a 100% unique one about the same topic.

      I agree though, it is very important to mention that to clients because so many people today are offering ‘spun’ articles as if they were original!

      Thanks for the tip!


  3. says

    I have found that many writers, especially in the beginning do have to take a lower rate in order to get their foot in the door. If you fit into this category, do not take the lower rate in your name, but write for a platform (such as a mill) that will allow you to turn down assignments you do not want, but as much as you can write if you have to. That way you can “make ends meet” on the lower rate but shift your livelihood toward private clients at a higher rate. One advantage of this is you can often take the lower rate without anyone ever knowing and trying to get you to undercut yourself in the future. Higher rates and lower work loads is the way to go in almost any business. Writing is no different in this regard.

  4. says

    Hi Michael,
    Just from the quality of your writing that I noted above, I think that your rate of 5 cents/word is already too low. For a 1,000 word article, you’re getting just $50- and with taxes and overhead taken out, that really means about $30 for you. Now, I don’t know how fast you write, but a 1,000 word article, at least for me, takes roughly 2-3 hours to write. That means that you could be writing at $10/hr. at best. I’d charge $100, or at the very least $75 for the same word count.

    • says

      Thanks for the vote of confidence! I agree! For many types of writing I do charge quite a bit more than the $.05 per word. My $.05 is for ‘standard’ articles that really don’t take me too long to write. Typically they are on topics that I’m already familiar with, or can write with minimal research, plus I am a fairly fast typist. In most cases, I can do a 1000 word article (at this rate) in 30-45 minutes, so it works out to be a pretty good hourly rate. Of course, I have to factor in taxes, marketing time and things like that as well, but it still works out well for me.

      On orders that require a lot more research I try to raise the price to the point where I’m still making about the same per hour, but of course it is always just an estimate.

      I really appreciate you stopping by and commenting!


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