You’re ready to become a freelance writer, but you have no idea how much to charge for a 500-word article. I am here to help and after 10+ years of freelance writing experience, I believe I can provide an answer.
Setting your rates isn’t easy and it can be difficult to figure out the sweet spot. You may charge too little and wish you could make more or pitch a client with too high of a rate only to wonder if the rate was the reason they turned you down.
Let’s look at a few key factors to consider before figuring out how much to charge for a 500-word article.
1. Your Experience
Some business owners think they have to hire someone that used to work in their industry to write high-quality content. This simply isn’t true, but you will need to prove your worth.
I have written in dozens of industries and have covered thousands of unique topics over my time as a freelance writer. From real estate to web hosting to pet health to medical spa treatments, I have written about many things.
Am I an expert in these areas? No.
Did I work in any of them before becoming a freelance writer? No.
My experience comes from the research I am capable of doing. If you’re good at research, you can write about nearly anything expertly.
Since I cannot back up my knowledge of real estate, web hosting, pet health or dozens of other topics, I let my writing samples speak for me. When I don’t have a sample for a specific industry, I simply offer to write one for the potential client; often they will pay me for it.
2. Your Needs
It would be silly to set your rates so low that you cannot make enough money to live. You need to be paid a living wage (boy I hate that phrase these days) and you control this by setting the right rates.
If you know you can realistically write 50 articles around 500 words each per week and you need to make $1,000 a week to survive, you need to charge at least $20 per article or you’ll never survive.
Of course, you’ll probably have to charge even more as your payment processor will take a cut and you may not always have 50 articles to write each week.
3. What Clients Will Pay
If you started your rate at 10 cents per word and you’ve pitched a few dozen clients without as much as a nibble, it may be time to “run a special” and re-pitch at a lower rate.
I did this when I used to write for SEO firms and Digital Marketing Firms. I found that anything over about 4 cents per word was a hard sell, but most would pay 3 to 3.5 cents per word.
The rate you charge will depend on the industry as my real estate clients pay much more than my old SEO firms pay. Part of this is because the SEO clients were selling my content to their clients, so it was marked up on their end.
4. The Specific Project
Not every project is the same. I have written simple 500-word blog posts and I have written magazine-quality 500-word blog posts. They are very different.
It may take some trial and error if you’re new to freelance writing, but you must learn to estimate how much time a project will take you.
For example, when I started, I was providing about 2,000 words of content every hour and charging a penny per word (way too low, btw). I only needed $20 per hour to make ends meet working about 35 hours a week at the time.
The content I wrote back then wasn’t very good, but the client loved it because it fit their needs and I could turn it around fast.
Today, my clients demand more of me with the need to link to sources, provide much better information, and link to pages/posts on their site. I also provide images for most of my clients.
I don’t provide 2,000 words written, edited, and delivered per hour anymore and I charge much more than a penny per word.
Look at the project in front of you and figure out how long it will take you. Then, charge based on the hourly rate you’d like to make.
After you take on the client, time yourself. Then, you can adjust your rates for a 500-word article based on how long you think it will take.
Ways to Charge as a Freelance Writer
There are many ways to charge as a freelance writer, but there is only one way that really makes sense, IMHO.
Some of the common ways to charge for writing include:
- By the word
- By the hour
- By the project
- Weekly/monthly/yearly salary
I prefer charging by the word, but I use packages to provide discounts for larger orders and longer commitments.
Depending on the type of client, I will offer a higher rate if they order one 500-word article compared to ordering 10. Larger orders allow me to batch my writing, editing, and other tasks meaning the average time per article will be lower, at least for me.
I also provide monthly, quarterly, and annual blog/content packages with set terms for the number of posts per week or month.
Usually, by offering discounted rates for larger orders, I can secure a larger amount of work for a longer amount of time, upfront, from my clients. I never write without getting paid upfront or at least taking a 50% deposit.
How much do you charge for a 500-word article?
Now, back to the question at hand. I started at $5 for 500 words 11+ years ago before I realized I was better than every other writer at this price point.
At a penny a word, you’ll compete with non-native-English speaking writers from India, the Philippines, and other foreign countries. You will outshine every single one of them, but you will be getting paid next to nothing for your skills.
About 9 months after going full time as a freelance writer, I started charging between 2.5 cents and 4 cents per word. My clients expected better content, but they also knew how to use the content and ordered more of it.
My biggest adjustment, at this point, was adding a second layer to my editing. This was before I discovered Grammarly (not sure if it was even around) so I used Microsoft Word Spelling & Grammer check and gave every article a quick read for typos.
About 5 years ago, I started to specialize in Real Estate and charged between 3.5 cents per word (very large orders) and 8 cents per word. It was far more lucrative and I wrote less for more pay.
Today, since I don’t depend on freelance writing solely, I charge about triple what I used to charge. It’s hard for me to even consider jobs that don’t pay higher rates and I often turn them down.
Setting Your Rates for 500-word Articles
Let me just say, you should be helping clients realize 500 words is too short. It’s best to provide at least 1,000 words per post to ensure they get the results they are looking for from your content.
However, 500-word articles are still very common, so let’s look at how much to charge as a writer for this type of article.
- New Writers with No Experience – 3 to 4 cents per word
- Writers with less than 1-year experience and good samples – 5 to 6 cents per word
- Writers with 1 to 3 years of experience – 5 to 8 cents per word
- Seasoned writers probably not reading this blog post – 10+ cents per word
Of course, the industry you’re writing in will also determine the rate.
It will take some trial and error to figure out what to charge. I always start high with clients and run specials or offer discounts if they balk at my rates.