Setting Freelance Rates

Setting your rates as a freelance writer or editor can be difficult. Knowing your own worth means knowing what others have been charging in similar situations. The easiest way to find out the rates of others is to join a professional organization. Groups such as the National Writers Union and the Society for Technical Communication publish annual salary surveys.

Why Rates Matter

The rates you charge affect how you are perceived as a freelance writer or editor. Charge too little and you might not be taken seriously. Charge too much and you won’t have enough clients.

Freelancing: It's a Tough Market
Freelance writing and editing is much tougher today than it was as recently as the 1990s.

Hourly Rates

Unfortunately, hourly freelance rates have remained stable since 2005. Checking the salary surveys of several organizations of freelance writers even points to declining hourly rates — and that’s not adjusting for inflation.

Original content creation generally earns $45 to $55 per hour.

Editing and basic proofreading are far more dependent on the type of materials being edited. This is ironic, since writing technical material tends to require specialized skills. While a technical writer earns roughly what a creative writer earn, a technical editor can charge more than a fiction editor.

Summary of 2005–06 Salary Surveys
Content Type Editing Authoring
Corporate $35–45 $45–60
Mass Market $30–40 $40–50
Academic Publisher $20–30 $40–45
Journalism $20–30 $30–45
Other Markets $30–35 $35–50


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Writer: C. S. Wyatt
Updated: 08-Mar-2017
Editor: S. D. Schnelbach