Cair Lerion Blog #6: How much will this cost? My guide to why I cost what I do – including a price list

Every time I have a conversation with a potential new client, there is always one question that comes up. It runs something like this:

“So, Jonathan… how much will this cost me?”

There’s no denying It’s an important question; in many ways, it’s THE question.

It’s also not a simple question to answer. Google ‘How much does it cost to hire a freelance writer?’ and read through some of the results and they’ll pretty much all say something along the same lines. Essentially: it depends.

Now I appreciate that this not hugely helpful – so to try and offer some more clarity, I’m going to spend the rest of this blog explaining that statement. I finish with some guide prices.

I always start with an hourly rate of £75.00/US$96.00 in mind.

This might sound expensive. If it does, then I might not be right freelancer for you. And that’s OK. I’m not going to be the best fit for everyone.

You might be asking what that hourly rate will get you. If so, I’d ask you to stop reading this and go read my LinkedIn profile to get a sense of the experience and skills I bring to the table, as well as my Muck Rack portfolio, where you’ll find a range of examples of my writing.

But to summarise: I offer specialist technical content creation with primary experience writing about heavy industries and related topics (digitalization and Industry 4.0; sustainability and the environment etc.).

Lest this pigeonhole me, however, I’m also currently working for client in the social care sector. And having spent much of my career in industries I was initially unfamiliar with (after read History at university), I’m pretty good at adapting to and picking up different subjects as required.

Reading on?

If so, I’m going to assume that you’re at least a little interested in working with me. Let’s dig a bit more into those costs…

You know my starting point. Now how do I get from that to quoting for a particular project? The first thing to consider is what you want written?

It’s fairly obvious that the length of a piece of writing will be one determining factor in its cost, but the type of content is also important. A press release and a blog, for example, may be of roughly similar lengths but are very different types of content.

The former usually take a fairly predictable style and format, while the latter is much freer – and may therefore require more research and preparation to do well. That might take a bit more time.

Similarly, writing a white paper to post to your website or technical articles for a trade magazine (usually between 1000 and 2000 words or more) will not only take more time because it is longer; there is also likely to be more preparation required.

This brings up the second point: how much information can you provide as part of the initial brief?

Simply put: the more information you are able to provide, the faster it will be for me to prepare and write your content. This could be through a written brief, phone call or more formal interview (for example, of subject-matter experts within your company).

When commissioning SEO-friendly content for websites, have you carried out keyword research or do you expect me to do this? Similarly, for social media, do you have a list of hashtags to include or is this something you will need me to look for?

It is also useful to have a guide to your style or tone of voice (ToV). Although I will ask for examples of previous content, having a set ToV is a real help (as well as being essential to ensure consistency throughout your content. But that’s another blog in itself.) – and is one way of limiting the chances that the material will have to be redrafted later on.

One final point that can dictate the cost of a project is the extent of redrafting or revision required after submission of the first draft. I include light editing within the quote – but if there is substantial revision, e.g. if the brief changes, that can add significantly to the cost. In this instance, I’d make sure you’re aware of and agreed to this before proceeding.

With all of this in mind, it becomes possible to give an idea how much a specific job will cost. Note that this will be a guide and subject to change (either up or down). If you’re looking for more certainty, talk to me about agreeing a set price.

Notwithstanding the vagaries of the above, here’s a very general price guide for some of the more popular content I’m asked to create

  • Press release (Up 350 words): £150.00/US$192.00
  • Technical blog (350-500 words): £225.00/US$288.00
  • Long blog/Short article (500-1000 words): £337.50/US$432.00
  • Short technical article (1000-1500 words): £450.00/US$576.00
  • Long technical article/White paper (1500+): £600.00+/US$768.00+

If you don’t see what you need up there (e.g. webpages, company/product brochures), don’t panic! I can still help – it’s just this type of material is much more variable, so harder to give a general quote. I’d welcome the opportunity to discuss these needs with you. 

In addition to writing, I can also edit and repurpose existing content (e.g. taking a presentation and turning it into a white paper). This takes less time than developing content from scratch and so will come with a lower price tag.

Why do I base my prices on an hourly rate rather than per word?

Another good question. I believe that hourly rates are a more transparent way of pricing, being both familiar to most people and therefore more easily understood that per-word rates. I also believe they’re more accurate and reflective of the work undertaken – and so ultimately better value for my customer.

Consider two 500-word blogs. One is on a subject I’m familiar with and for a client I have worked with often, so I’m able to produce the content in an hour and half. The other is more technical and requires more significant preparation. This takes me two and a half hours to write.

Pricing on a per-word rate, both would cost the same; pricing on a per-hour basis better reflects the work put in. And you – the client – receive an accurate assessment of the cost of that work in the final invoice. 

There it is. I hope this has helped explain why I cost what I do. As always, I appreciate your feedback and questions on anything I’ve said here. Contact me here or connect with me on LinkedIn and Twitter.