Are You Charging Accordingly For Your Freelance Writing Skills?

A dollar sign with a blue arrow passing upwards in front of it

Taking the time to review what writing services you actually offer and ensure you’re charging for them can make a huge difference to your finances.

I like giving advice.  I like helping others and I like being able to see that my knowledge and experience is of benefit to others, in both business and personal capacities.

When I first got into freelance writing, that’s all I was doing – writing.  I would get a few assignments, work out exactly what was needed, confirm this with the client and work through the project until it was finished.  I’d send over the pieces via e-mail, get approval, make any amendments if they were requested and then charge for my work.  It was a simple and straightforward process.

A few months into my career, I started working with some small businesses.  We’d go through the same process mentioned above and everything was great.

As is so often the case with small businesses, they wanted as much help as they could get – SMEs generally don’t have huge budgets and so understandably, any advice they can receive, they’ll gladly take – and I found myself sending e-mails giving advice on all things writing related, from where to publish the pieces through to how it impacts on SEO.

A little while later I was jumping on phone calls to discuss further.

All this time, I was doing these things as ‘favours’.  They were still my clients and they were providing me with regular work, but they were only paying me for my writing work – everything else, because it was just ‘now and then’, didn’t seem overly important to either party in terms of costs.

But then I realised I was starting to spend more time ‘consulting’ than I was actually writing – and I needed to do something about it.

I had two approaches – increase my per word rate, giving me the ability to spend more time with each client or charge a consultancy fee.  I decided to go for the latter option, with a bit of a tweak and it worked really, really well.

What I essentially offered was a monthly package whereby I split my time between producing content and consulting.  It worked great for me – financially, too – and my clients loved it, because they were paying a little extra but getting both the content they required and the knowledge they so desperately needed.

The discussion around freelance writing rates goes on and on and you’ll always find some blog or forum somewhere talking about it.  The problem is, the discussions almost all revolve around your writing rates and not your knowledge and experience overall.  They don’t take into account the amount of time you spend with a client outside of producing the actual content or any other potential service you could be – or already are unknowingly – offering.

I’m not saying that you should always charge for your advice – jumping on a call occasionally with a client can prove to be a great relationship improver – but you need to define the line between offering free advice and offering what should be a paid service.

Adding another string to your bow and a few extra coins in your pocket, I’ve decreased my consultancy time considerably over the past year because of other commitments, but working with a handful of clients on a consultancy basis was fantastic and arguably one of the best times of my career to date.

About Dan Smith

Dan Smith is a seasoned freelance writer, currently working as the SEO Specialist for digital media agency Zine.  With a strong focus on developing strategies that are based heavily on high quality content, Dan always has one eye on the customer experience and has a distinct (dis)ability of being unable to say no.


  1. Hi Dan,

    this is interesting. I am both too. I’m a consultant and a writer. The other way round to you though – I started as a consultant.

    That’s why it’s interesting, because though I’m a writer, I’m not a freelance writer. I’ve written several guest articles for websites that I’ve put blood sweat and tears into and they’ve been successful in terms of shares, comments etc. I could also feasibly be a freelance writer, but I’ve never explored this – the only writing I’ve done has been writing articles online and books (3 so far, 4 if you count one I give away free and two more in the works) and self-published ones at that.

    I have always been paid well for consulting though.

    I think also perhaps people in general would associate ‘consulting’ with a higher rate than ‘freelance writing’ in any case – rightly or wrongly,

    interesting stuff…

    p.s. congrats on starting to charge for the consulting – good move

  2. Hmmm – I do give away advice about self-publishing, trade publishing and some marketing… my book writing rates are high enough to that a no brainer. I also coach writers… I think I give away about the right amount… the other day someone asked if I’d do business consulting and I said no because I don’t know that area well.

  3. A large part of this is why I don’t write for a per-word rate. I did write per-word for a publication, and I found that it was nowhere near worth the time I spent interviewing people. It’s why I shy away from anything resembling journalism now and focus on copywriting. So it’s either a fixed fee, agreed upon before work starts, or an hourly rate. The way I see it, they’re not paying for me to type words, they’re paying for what I can bring to the party in terms of value to their business, my skills, my knowledge and understanding of which words to choose and why.

    If a client looks like they’ll need some hand-holding at the outset, they’ll get a bit extra whacked onto their quote, or if they’re paying by the hour, I’ll make sure any consultation time is included in their invoice for the month. Though I do have a fair-use policy on that – if they have a quick question and I can answer it easily I won’t nickel-and-dime them, but if they want advice and it takes me 30 minutes to find out the answer and email them then yeah, they pay.

  4. The best advice I received about how to charge for writing was in “The Well-Fed Writer” by Peter Bowerman. If you have time to read, this is definitely worth checking out.