Writing 500 impactful words isn’t easy. It requires intelligence, skill, and research. But how much should you charge for a 500 word article? As scores of writers join the ranks of popular sites like Fiverr and Upworks, the going-rate for writers is all over the board. From .01 per word international writers to $1 per word New York City authors—the rate varies tremendously.
How much should you charge for a 500 word article? Inexperienced or new writers looking to expand their portfolio can expect to charge between .01 and .09 per word. Expert writers with research skills or niche experience can charge between .10 and .50 per word. Specialized niches can pay even more (+.50 per word) for uniquely equipped writing contractors.
Whether you are an up-and-coming writer or a brilliant copywriter with decades of experience, earning an appropriate writing fee is essential to longevity. While the industry fee-standard fluctuates constantly, we are hoping to share some insight on ensuring your worth. Let’s look at how much you can expect to earn and how to increase your earnings with additional skills.
How much should you charge for a 500 word article?
The industry standard for a 500 word article is around $50. You may find rates that are more or less, but for a native speaking writer in the desired language, expect to earn at least .10 per word. This rate is middle of the pack.
With the recent growth of Fiverr and UpWorks, it’s easy to find work as a writer in the .01 to .05 range per word. But in my experience, these writers rarely work out and consumers are beginning to figure that out.
Do you really want to spend your time hacking at the keyboard for pennies? You’re talented and you deserve more.
Anytime we’ve helped businesses procure writers under .10 per word, the amount of editing work is doubled, minimally. They were initially excited to get a “great deal”. And then the work was delivered, all 500 words of trash.
But this isn’t you. If you are a great writer, you shouldn’t write for under .10 per word. You can easily find gigs for under that rate, but isn’t that true for any job? I understand that there are times in life where something is better than anything, but you have value and people are willing to pay for that value.
What if I am a really experienced writer in my niche?
Niche writers on the open market can charge between .10 and .40 per word. The higher rates generally go to research based niches which require industry insight. If you have niche experience and write with fair speed, do not accept rates lower than .10—you will be doing yourself a disservice.
Your talent is valuable, don’t let cheap businesses devalue it—remember that. 🔥🔥🔥
If you are someone with a lot of experience or niche knowledge, you can easily scale your business to niche your services. Smart businesses realize the cheapest articles usually have the cheapest content. The cost of editing, re-wording, proofing, and reestablishing context can take a lot longer with cheap contractors. I’ve seen my fair share.
These additional steps cost the website owner a lot of time and money. And when you are building digital content, time IS money.
What if I am a writing major or a great writer?
Well, that doesn’t make two of us 😜. If you have university training or consider yourself a professional writer, you should be able to demand between .10 and .50 per word. If you are earning less than this, you better be building up a portfolio in hopes to charge more really, really soon or you need to rethink your career of self-worth.
There is a caveat you should be aware of as well: Selling yourself as a great writer is a harder sell on the open market than selling yourself as a competent NICHE writer.
Most businesses looking to outsource per word are doing so for increasing their website content. More content means more eyes on their business. While this content is important, they don’t require Shakespeare to write it. They need someone fast and capable.
Selling yourself as a good writer is fine. Selling yourself as a good writer with excellent speed and superior niche knowledge will land you FAR better gigs. Here is an example of a great writer, certified by Fiverr as a Pro, and demanding .50 per word.
In rare circumstance, we’ve been able to secure a writing team under .10 who delivers great content. But, they typically don’t deliver the same quality as a native speaker with niche knowledge. And in almost every case, we have to edit strange grammar issues.
Depending on how fast your write, starting at .10 per word is a great place to be. Once your writing skills improve or you find a niche you excel in, scale up to .20-.50 per word.
What is the average freelancer writing rates per word?
The average freelancer writer rate varies by experience and niche. The guide below will help you determine where you might price yourself for writing projects:
|Experience||Rate Per Word||Niche Knowledge||Native Speaker|
While this pricing guide isn’t perfect, it’s a rough estimate of what is being charged on the open market for writers. Let’s talk about each pricing category to give you better insight.
Writing experience is extremely important. Resume features like degrees, writing experience, publications, and writing certifications (language, speed, technical abilities) are important.
In most cases, writing experience in the per word arena implies number of projects completed. If you’ve delivered blocks of content to dozens of clients, you can draw on your experience and use that as a selling point.
Maybe you were the editor for your college newspaper or you have a personal blog that is generating great traffic, all of these experiences matter when selling your writing services. In fact, a solid portfolio of client work will go much farther than an English degree.
If you don’t have a writing portfolio, get busy creating one immediately.
Having a solid grasp on the material you are writing matters A LOT. Whoever is hiring you will find comfort in your ability to write relevant content for their site.
I would never hire a health writer without health experience or a solid health background. It’s not an indictment on their ability to write well, it’s a cautionary action on my part to hire for competency. I wouldn’t expect Steven King to author a medical dictionary any more than I’d expect Malcolm Gladwell to pen a thrilling horror book. It’s just not their thing.
There are industry terms and nuances that may not seem obvious to everyone, but to an industry reader, it’s everything. They know a fake when they read one.
If there is an industry you have formidable knowledge in—maybe a hobby or academic background—you should market yourself in those niches. You are now extremely valuable to a specific subset of businesses.
Believe it or not, most companies with a corporate website do not regularly update their blog content. They may update their landing pages or optimize the contact pages, but they aren’t putting the time and effort into continually creating content. It’s not on their must-do list.
And chances are the marketing people they have hired aren’t blog writers either. It’s not their “thing”. They were hired because of their digital marketing know-how, ad buying experience, website building prowess, and/or maybe their marketing degree got them in the door.
You showing up at their door might be the perfect opportunity for both of you!
I will do my best to avoid offending people here. I am American and I’ve spend more than 30 years in American humor, wit, debate, and cultural references (good and bad). We have sensitivities and subjectivities in our country that are essential for writers to understand.
With that said, I wouldn’t market myself for writing jobs in the UK, Australia, or South Africa. Sure, English is their primary language, and I speak English, but I don’t understand the subtle nuances of the culture like a native citizen would. And they shouldn’t expect me to either.
The ideal clients to target are clients in your native language and native culture. While people might get upset with me for saying this, I am specifically suggesting this for the following reasons:
- Highest monetary return – native speakers will receive higher compensation. You can earn good money writing for non-native countries, but top-dollar is usually achieved via locational considerations.
- Project speed – Simply put, you’ll work fastest in your native language. This means you can take on more projects. More projects means more money.
- Creativity – Spending a considerable amount of time in a country improves creativity because you’ll have greater command of available vocabulary, a wider repository of cultural material, and your daily life will prompt cultural creative cues. Writing + creativity = good things.
- Local sustainability – Finding local clients who need great writers can yield terrific results. Sometimes your clients want to speak with you in person about larger projects or they may want you to spend time in their environment to understand their company culture.
I am in no way saying you can’t write great content for other countries. Not at all! You can be very successful writing internationally–and you should! People all over the world are doing it successfully.
There are certainly instances where non-native writers can do extremely well for clients in other countries. I have access to UK writers, Indian writers, Chilean writers, and African writers who are BRILLIANT. They write magnificent copy for American companies.
However, they also have local clients that continually hire them and don’t low-ball them. They are running a business based on relationships while eliminating international penny pinchers. Often times when companies hire across the pond, they are doing so to cost-cut—especially overseas writers.
Always remember: you are valuable and what you write has value.
How do I charge for images and graphics?
If you are skilled enough to create graphics and images for a client blog, you are a unicorn and you should be paid handsomely for this skillset.
If the going rate for talented writers is between .10 and .50 per word, you should charge ±2x for image selection and light graphics work. Understanding a niche is critical to receiving more compensation for photos, GIF’s, and graphics.
If you can provide a portfolio of other work that you’ve selected the digital media for, include that in your pitch. It’s really valuable. In my experience, most business owners don’t want to do these things and/or don’t know how.
Save them the headache and offer this as a service. You can encourage the sale by showing them ways to leverage the images on social media to point back to their site.
Charging for free images as a writer
If you are charging to FIND and PLACE free images in a clients blog, you should be able to charge 10-20% more. While the images might be free, you are selling a valuable service. You save your client money by leveraging free imagery, time by doing it for them, and you’ve provided them security in knowing the images are copyright free.
If you normally charge .10 per word, consider charging .11 or .12 per word with free images. Each additional cent you charge will result in $5 more per 500 words.
You could start by charging an additional .01 per word for the total number of images you plan on placing. In a 500 word blog, three images is fairly standard.
Charging for paid images as a writer
Many times your client doesn’t want oversaturated (popular) images on their site. They will require something with more artistic flair or novelty. You can include the cost of finding these images for them and placing them into their site.
Again, your portfolio work is key for this service. Clients want to make sure you have experience with branding and staying consistent with their source material. Anyone can pick images. But not everyone has an eye for appropriate imagery.
Charging 20-35% (+ cost of images) above your per-word rate is appropriate for this service.
Charging for light graphic design work
Increasing your article revenue via light graphics work is a great up-sell. Light graphics work is anything that takes you less than 10 minutes. Examples would include making a cool graph or adding a funny meme to an article.
I always look at the definition of “light” and consider my prices. Your skillset will determine what you are able to provide. If you are an Adobe master, then you can create graphics quickly and charge for it. But us graphic people are always at risk of overdelivering and undercharging.
Always use the time rule–under 10 minutes is light work.
However, if you aren’t a designer, you may need to rely on other tools to get the job done. And, these tools can make you more money by providing new graphic services to potential clients.
For light graphic work, you should charge per graphic content piece. $5-$20 per piece should be the range you are looking for (<10 minutes). If you create 2 graphs, that’s 2x$5-$20. I typically price memes, icons, and super fast graphics at $5-$10. Complex graphics that take 10-15 minutes should be in the $20 range.
Charging for serious graphic design work
We won’t go too far here, or even talk about pricing, but ALWAYS finalize pricing with your client before hand.
As I mentioned above, we graphic designers tend to over design. We do this for our own type-A perfectionism and NOT for the over-delivery of the client—that’s just a perk for them. Don’t let your perfectionism get in the way of your compensation. You are worth your time in minutes and hours. Keep track and charge accordingly.
Charging per word vs charging per project
I would recommend charging per word whenever possible. Per word pricing (PWP) will keep your quotes scalable and accurate. PWP will also ensure you are charging for the volume of work.
If you want to charge per project instead of per word, please do so with caution. Per project pricing can get out of hand quickly if you have a picky client. We most often see client abuse with project pricing.
Things to consider with per project pricing
- Time: Writing projects can take on a mind of their own when you begin researching and writing. Make sure to keep a tight project timeline and budget. Always charge per hour on the project. If the project requires more hours than previously quoted, speak with the client and adjust accordingly.
- Revisions: Make sure to include the number of revisions in your proposal. Most contract writers will do at least one revision based on client feedback.
- Punctuality: Be on time, every time. Being punctual with your project due dates will land you more gigs than anything else. Many writing projects are really writing trials; the client is assessing your deliverables with a small project first.
- Scope creep: Itemize each component of the project and deliver exactly what you’ve outlined. Clients can take advantage of project pricing by asking for more and more as the project is underway. Don’t let more work creep into your project scope. You aren’t a salaried employee and you shouldn’t be treated as one.
- Quote Hours: Project pricing doesn’t mean a single number you’ve pulled out of the sky. It’s an estimate of hours it will take multiplied by your hourly rate. If your client is nit-picky, they will have to pay for more hours.
Does location impact what writers can charge? Yes. Where you live can determine what you can charge. As we’ve discussed above with locational rates, native speakers can often charge more for native content. Cultural nuances and sensitivities can impact writing speed and relevancy. This isn’t a universal rule of thumb as many bilingual writers excel at international writing, but we’ve seen that domestic fluency can impact client rates.
How long should a 500 word blog take to write? A 500 word blog is equivalent to two double spaced Word pages. A few hours should be more than enough time to write 500 applicable words. Fast bloggers can write 500 words in under 30 minutes. We’ve talked a bit more about blog length and increasing writing speed here.