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Is five cents a word too low?

Posted by Charles Gray on November 26, 2013

One issue many freelance writers have is pricing their work. Working at a content mill is easy in that you don’t control your pricing, but actually going out and seeking out writing jobs means that you will, unavoidably, have to hand someone a price quote.

There are many different ways to price your work, by the hour, by the word, or by the project. Today, let’s look at by the word pricing.

We’ll start out by looking at a price of five cents a word.

Five cents a word is low—very low in today’s writing market, but it’s better than what you generally make at many content mills, and it also has the advantage of sounding reasonable for an unknown or inexperienced writer. However, it’s always important to consider how much you’ll actually make.

Let’s assume a 500-word assignment.

It’s easy enough to figure out the money you’ll make from it: 500×5=2500/100= $25.00

So, if you can finish one 500-word article every hour, you’re talking making about $25.00 an hour. You won’t be buying your yacht any time soon, but if you work three hours a day you’re making 75.00, which is a substantial addition to a job based income or a decent start for a fulltime freelance writer.

But… (Ah, yes, that most evil word, but) how much time are you spending on writing that article. If you need to spend time doing online research, say adding an hour to your writing time, now you’re at $13.50 an hour. If you have to actually leave your home, you could find yourself working for only a few dollars an hour, especially when you count gas costs.

Conversely, if say you have 10, 500 word blog posts on the same topic, you may be able to knock them all out in two hours.  That’s $125.00 an hour, which isn’t bad at all.

Then there’s the fact that once you have a solid portfolio and have amassed a number of clients who like your writing, you may find yourself able to start charging more per word. That’s especially true if you’ve developed a long-standing relationship with a client who has come to enjoy working with you.

Five cents a word isn’t a lot, and it’s at the lower end of the freelance writing spectrum, but it can be an excellent first step for those moving on from content farms, and seeking to develop their own circle of long-term clients.


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