I’m often asked by new writers what they should charge for an article. My answer is that it is often not up to the writer. The publication will make an offer, and you can decide whether to accept it or not. You can find some guidelines for what rates you should expect if you want to make a particular annual income.
Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen wrote a useful blog about this topic that you can find here. Also, Writer’s Digest annual publication Writer’s Market contains an extensive list of the going rates for various types of writing. My problem with that list is that it doesn’t adjust for different regions of the country.
However, the book does suggest a rough formula for deciding what your hourly rate should be.
- Choose your annual income.
- Add fixed expenses (Social Security, office supplies, travel expenses)
- Add in health insurance premiums.
- Add in retirement savings. The total is your gross annual income.
- Divide it by the number of billable hours you think you will have in a year. Writer’s Market suggests 1,000 hours or roughly 21 hours a week. The result is the hourly rate that you should shoot for.
Suggested Rates for Magazine and Trade Journals
My per word rate for magazines ranges anywhere from 10 cents a word to $1 a word. Obviously, I try to get more assignments from the latter, but I don’t turn down most assignments if I can squeeze them into my schedule.
- Article feature writing: $40-$122 per hour, or 20-30 cents per word
- Reprint articles: $20-$1,500 per project, or 10 cents-$1.50 per word
- Magazine column: $75-$2,500 per project, or 37 cents-$2.50 per word
- Ghostwriting articles: $30-$200 per hour, or 10 cents-60 cents per word
- Book reviews: $25-$900 per project, or 15 cents-$1.50 per word
- Content editing: $25-125 per hour, or 6 cents-16 cents per word
Notice how wide the range is for most of these assignments. It all depends on the magazine, where it is located, and the size of the article.
Suggested Rates for Newspapers
Newspapers are notorious for not paying much, and they like to keep their work in-house as much as possible to avoid extra expenses.
- Article feature writing: $40-$79 per hour, or 10 cents-$1.60 per word
- Local column: 38 cents-$1 per word; $25-$600 per column
- Self-syndicated column: $4-$35 per column
- Investigative Reporting: $2,250-$10,000 per project
- Proofreading: $15-$45 per hour
- Book reviews: $45-$69 per hour, or 25 cents-60 cents per word
Your income will more than likely come from a combination of sources, which for me, at least, makes it difficult to use the billable hours method. It’s a good starting pointing point.
Keep good records so that you know whether you’re truly making a profit or not.
Good luck and get writing.