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I am Dale King, a specialist dental copywriter. I love to share my knowledge of working within the dental niche with other like-minded individuals. 

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freelance writing rates

Freelance Writing Rates  – Per Word, Hour, or Project? What’s It To Be?

In a previous post, we talked about setting your freelance writing rates to arrive at an hourly fee that works for you. So, in this article, I thought I would follow it up by discussing how projects are priced up and the advantages and disadvantages of each method. 

So, let’s get into it! 

How Projects Are Priced

Most freelance writers will charge either by the word, per hour or by the project and experienced content creators will use these payment structures interchangeably. They do this for several reasons

  • – Because it works best for them
  • – Because it fits in or identifies with the client
  • – Because some projects require different pricing structures.

In fact, according to a recent survey, 60% of freelancers use a mix of payment structures to set their freelance writing rates. While it’s good to be flexible, it’s also essential to understand the benefits and drawbacks of each. So let’s take a look.

Firstly, per word

charging by the word

Charging per word is common practice for freelancers as it’s an easy way to ensure that the words written equate to the amount billed. Per-word pricing makes perfect sense for blogs or articles where there is often a definitive word count.

Key benefits include:

Insurance for lengthier or unknown pieces – When the client is unsure about word length, a per-word fee structure ensures you are rewarded for all work completed.

Easy budgeting – if your goal is to make x amount per month, you need to book x amount of words to hit your budget. Let’s say your target is $1000 per month, and you charge 10 cents per word; you need to book projects equating to 10,000 words—easy, simple calculations.

Per-word rates are also easy to calculate for clients when they have a specific word count in mind. For example, if a client wants four monthly blogs at 1000 words, and your rate is ten cents per word, they already know you will charge them $400 and no more.

Seemingly lower price – Sometimes, hourly or project rates may appear too high for some clients. At the same time, a per-word rate can be more palatable.

But what about the drawbacks?

Clients can feel uneasy about a per-word rate –  While some prefer per-word pricing, others, particularly agencies, may think a per-word count doesn’t work. Why? Because there is scope for the writer to fill out the content unnecessarily with fluff to bump up the price.

I’ve heard some agencies say they never accept a per-word price from a freelancer for this reason. However, in my experience, the problem can quickly be sorted out with either an agreed word count or an upper word count limit.

Only works for some writing projects – Some dental projects take longer than others and may require considerable research. You can’t charge for this time when freelance writing rates are based on a per-word approach.  

It doesn’t include revisions – Typically, a per-word fee structure is precisely that – you get paid for words written. Any payment of this nature doesn’t consider modifications. So every time you need to revise work, it can affect your bottom line.

Secondly, charging by the hour

charging by the hour

Many freelancers swear by charging an hourly rate because it sets clear boundaries that time equates to money. Essentially, when working on a project, you’re getting paid for that time, irrespective of whether you’re writing, researching or revising content.

Here are some other benefits:

Managing scope creep – Sometimes, even with the best of intentions, projects can become more involved. Clients forget to mention something which requires you to do more work, or they ask you to do some extra work not discussed in the initial brief.

An hourly rate avoids the difficult conversation of ‘You initially said this’ or ‘We agreed on that’; instead, you can say, “Sure, I’ll do that,” and include it in your final total.

Positions you as a professional – Hourly rates portray to clients that you know your business. Some businesses prefer an hourly rate for their accounting, making you more aligned with their requirements.

Easy to work out any freelance pricing structure – When you know your hourly rate, you can use this to work out a per-word or project price.

For example, if someone wants a price for a 1000-word dental post and you charge $50 per hour, but they want a per-word price, here’s what you do.

Let’s say you can comfortably write the piece in two hours; then you would be justified in charging 10 cents per word. $100 equals two hours of work @ $50 per hour.

Alternatively, if a client wants a complete website re-write and you know your hourly rate, estimating an overall project price is easy if you know roughly how long it will take you. 

What about the drawbacks of charging by the hour?

Charging per hour is not for everyone. Here are some of the reasons why.

Underselling time – It’s essential to have a good understanding of how long projects will take. If you think you can write an article in an hour and it inevitably takes two or three hours, your initial $50 per hour is reduced to $25 or less. That’s not good at all.

Overselling time On the flip side, if you budgeted a project to take, say, 20 hours and you completed it half the time, then you can and should only charge for ten hours. The result is the same as before; you’re working for half the price.

Not ideal if you’re a newbie writer – We’ve already stated that the only way for hourly rates to work is to be confident about the timescales of various projects. That is unless you get a client who is happy for you to bill them at the end of the project for hours worked,

Unfortunately, most will want an upfront price for the job or project.

So, if you’re new to dental content writing and just setting your freelance writing rates, you may not know how long a piece of content will likely take you. Knowledge often comes with experience, so setting an hourly rate may not be suitable for every project. 

Finally, by project

charging by the project

Essentially, a per-project fee is a flat fee that is usually assigned to lengthier projects, such as

  • Website re-writes
  • E-books and guides
  • Ongoing monthly blogs
  • Ghost-writing product catalogues.

Some of the pros of charging by the project include:

No surprises When you charge a per-project fee, you accept that this should be the project’s total cost. This way, there are no surprises to the client or you when the price is agreed upon.

As a side note – When you operate freelance writing rates on a per-project basis, having a writer’s contract in place is always advisable. A contract ensures that you’ll do the work for an agreed price and that the client doesn’t introduce any further add-ons that weren’t initially agreed upon.

Per-project quoting encompasses most jobs If the project requires work outside of conventional writing like content planning, keyword research or editing, a per-project price can cover most jobs.

What you see is what you get – Most clients like per-project prices because what you see is what you get. There are no surprises with this pricing structure, making it easy for the client to budget.

That said, just as per-project pricing has advantages, it also has downsides. Let’s take a look.

Price shocker –  If you’re working on a sizeable ghost-writing project like an E-book, a flat one-off fee may seem like a significant number. Even though clients realise that content production like this takes time and, subsequently, money, it can initially be off-putting.

As a suggestion, consider breaking projects down into payment milestones. This way, smaller numbers may be more acceptable for clients.

No room for negotiation – sometimes, even if your flat fee was reasonable in the beginning, endless rounds of edits or project add-ons mean that there is no wiggle room for you to be paid for that extra time unless you renegotiate and that is often harder than you think.

So there you have it, freelance writing rates and the pros and cons of per word, per hour or project pricing structures.

So which is it to be?

Essentially, you have to go with a freelance writing rate that works for you on a project-by-project basis, so it’s best to be flexible in your pricing approach.

That may be a per-word rate where it’s easier to budget, a per-hour rate encompassing the possibility of scope creep, or a per-project rate for pricing up lengthier jobs.

Either way, working out other payment structures is easy once you know your hourly rate.

If you are starting and value my content, visit my website, Dental Writers Club and download my free guide. It walks you through the entire process, from getting started to landing your first client.

Thanks, and here’s to your success.