What To Pay A Writer

What To Pay A Writer

Want to know what your writer is worth? Check below for the current rates in each different field of writing.

Perhaps the most frequently asked question when it comes to freelance writing is what a writer should be paid.

The question often comes from both sides of the table, as neither the writer nor the client are clear on what a fair rate for each piece of work is. Truth is, there are no set in stone “market” rates you can expect to pay a writer.

Everyone writes, and that makes it harder to determine the rate you pay a writer. Unlike graphic design or programming, most people – writers and non-writers – write every day.

This lowers the perceived value of a writer’s work in some client’s eyes, because they feel they could do the work on their own, and don’t view writing to be as impressive as coding the whole new back-end of an app.

The opposing view on this is there are more people trying to be good writers, but professional writers shine as being in the top range of the skillset. There are lots of ways to look at it, and it’s important to examine these viewpoints when you’re trying to figure out what to pay for a certain writing project.

The three basic ways writers are paid is on a:

  • per word basis
  • per project basis
  • per hour basis.

This will vary based on how a writer likes to work and what the project demands. Research projects might make more sense on a per hour basis, whereas copywriting could be more of a per project basis. It depends on the goal of the work.

The variability in rates of pay for writers comes from the amount of exposure and effect the work is expected to receive. For example, SEO content demands a much lower quality of writing than a TV script. Between these two extremes, there are numerous sub-markets which command different rates.

Two other facts that affect what a writer is paid are the rights for the work and amount of research required. Only in higher levels of writing is the rights for the work a concern, but all things being equal, the client should expect to pay more for the rights than if the writer was going to retain partial ownership of their work. Research is a factor as well, since it increases the number of hours required to complete the work.

Through a survey of what writers are paid, we have determined the rates below. These are very general guidelines, since so many other factors come into play and each writer is special. In the end, the only thing that matters is what people have paid in the past and are willing to pay now.

Let's Break The Numbers Down:

Corporate/Business Writing

Reports/ Marketing Plans/ Technical Writing
$1 to $2 per word
$300 to $12,000 per project
$50 to $125 per hour

Editing

Varies according to publication/project
$30 to $60 per hour
$500 to $20,000 per project

Ghost Writing

Articles
Generally 2-3 times the usual rate

Books
$10,000 to $50,000 flat fee
Entire advance + 50% of royalties

Government Writing

News Releases/Studies/Reports
$1 to $3 per word
$500 to $100,000 per project
$50 to $125 per hour

Newsletters

Writing only; layout extra
$0.30 to $1.50 per word
$400 to $6,000 per issue
$50 to $80 per hour

Newspaper Writing

Large Daily Newspapers
$0.30 to $1.00 per word
$250 to $2,500 per article
$330 to $1,250 per column

Smaller Community Newspapers
$0.10 to $0.50 per word
$75 to $1,000 per article
$75 to $500 per column

Online/Web Site Writing

Varies widely
$1 to $3 per word
$60 to $100 per hour

Periodical Writing

General Interest/Consumer Magazines
$1.00 to $2 per word
$500 to $10,000 per article
$400 to $1,500 per column

Trade/Special Interest Magazines
$0.30 to $2 per word
$500 to $4,000 per article
$300 to $1,000 per column

Scripts

Radio (highly variable)
$40 to $80 per minute of script

Television (highly variable)
$60 to $130 per minute of script

Speech Writing

$500 to $8,000 per speech
$60 to $130 per hour

Teaching/Instruction

$25 to $80 per hour
$200 to $800 per day

Translation/Adaptation

Literary
$0.10 to $0.20 per word

Other
$0.25 to $0.60 per word
$40 to $80 per hour

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