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I worked 6 month for a german company, writing the content for their italian website. Aside for this experience, I'm an absolute beginner with no qualification at all. The only reason I was offered to keep working for them as a freelancer from my place, is that they liked my work.

When I was working in the office, I was doing 8 hour a day, from monday to friday, for 800 euro a month. This time they want me to propose a price-per-word, but they didn't tell me how much work I will have to do. For what I know, they could ask me to write 1000 words one day, and then wait the next month to give me work again. Most of the time though, they'll probably tell me to write about a certain topic, without specifying how many words I should use.

So how would go about setting a rate as a novice in this field?

  • Is it normal for copywriters to charge by the word? I am not in the industry, but it seems to be a good way to get wordy nonsense and not interesting, readable, succinct prose. – halfer Jul 21 '15 at 23:46
  • I don't know if it's normal, but the company I'm talking about doesn't care about quality at all and they seem to be keen to accept nonsense, redundant and wordy articles. But since I'm not gonna make many money with this job at least I want to try to write something good in order to learn better my writing skills at least... Anyways, sorry but I'm not used to this website, and actually what I wanted to ask was what's an average pay, in order to make a comparison, would something like that be ok? – user8366 Jul 22 '15 at 0:25
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I'm a huge value of value-based pricing. This pricing model looks past the technical work being done (number of words being written, number of pages being designed, or even number of hours being worked) and looks at the value being provided to the client.

Ultimately, that is what the client is looking for (even though he/she may not even know it). You clients wants you to produce a result that helps their business, not bean-count the number of hours you've billed.

An amazing benefit of this pricing model is that you'll position yourself an an investment, not a cost.

Still need an answer for how much to charge? Look at the scope of the entire project, not the word count and look at your past experience to see how much time and effort it took, and price based one that with an added 10% in there as a contingency.

For example, if you came you're hired to create a headline, and a similar headline in the past took you 5 hours to come up with and your rate is $50/hour, you should charge $275 ($50 * 5 = $250 + 10% = $275).

Hope this helps!

  • Thank you for your answer. I believe, whole-heartedly, in value-based pricing as well. So many consultants and consulting companies underprice because they do not look at the big picture. It's good to know there are others with the same thought. – KittyConsultant Nov 6 '15 at 12:58
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I haven't personally worked as a freelance copywriter, but have hired a few and I have a friend who did article writing for a while. As a buyer, I prefer a fixed rate per piece, disregarding word count, because quality is more important than quantity for my projects.

However, for the pseudo-seo, kinda-spammy-but-technically-not-but-actually-it-sort-of-is-spammy article generation industry, price per word is common. Probably more common is price per article with a fixed word length requirement - which boils down to price per word anyways.

So let's break down your full time job. You worked 40 hours per week and there's 4.34524 weeks in a month. So you worked about 174 hours each month. You mentioned the company you worked for was focused more on quantity, not quality, so I'm estimating you'd do a 300-word article per hour. (I'd love to know what your exact quotas were, if any.)

Using those numbers:

pricePerWord = EUR800 / (174 * 300) = EUR800 / 52200words = EUR0.0153 per word.

So for a 300 word article you were getting paid about EUR4.59, which lines up pretty well with the average rates you find on volume focused services like iWriter.

I imagine the trick to making this type of work profitable for the freelancer is in cutting down the time it takes to write an article while keeping the quality at an acceptable level to the client. If I get paid $5 per article and it takes me an hour to write it, that sucks. But if I get paid $5 per article and I can write 5 or six in an hour, that doesn't suck. Like I said I've never worked in the field, but I'd experiment with a combination of format templates for different article types that can fit any topic, and speech-to-text/voice recognition.

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