Editing: How Much Should You Charge?

It all depends on how valuable you think your time is.

When you’re freelancing, how much you should charge can be very tricky to figure out. You can try, of course, quoting $500 for a 300-word web article, but it’s doubtful that anyone would accept that.

People have a funny concept of money when it comes to the more creative arts, such as writing, drawing, web design, and other artistic endeavors. Potential clients are always trying to haggle the price lower, and insist that “exposure” is better than actual cash.


This whole thing deserves a post of its own, but in short, unless you really, really want to or have to, don’t do work for no pay. In some cases, it’s worth it, like internships or test jobs for an accredited company, but otherwise, just say no.

Now, if you’re just starting out, your prices will probably have to be pretty low. Editing, though awesome, usually isn’t that complicated or time-consuming, and $5 is barely above average for one web article. Which is fine! Like most jobs, you’ll have to do some low-paying stuff until you have enough experience to raise the price.

When I first started freelancing, I was just out of college, and had virtually no work experience at all, aside from a brief stint at CollegeProwler (volunteer) and GlobWorld (volunteer). I discovered oDesk, set my price to $5/hr, and started applying. I did writing and transcribing work at first, both of which were very time-consuming for me and the pay was low. The editing jobs I did get, I enjoyed much more, and I started focusing on applying for those. As my profile filled up with successful jobs and good feedback, I started receiving offers. By that time, I had increased my rate to $10/hr (above minimum wage), and only accepted/applied for editing work.

oDesk is a little different than conventional work (taking them through Craigslist or direct email), because they take a small commission from your final fee, so you have to be careful when planning on how much to charge. I’ll put up an article about the intricacies of this website later on, but that’s the gist of it.

Basically, the more experience I got, the more I was able to charge. Right now, my rate is $15/hr, which can still be considered on the low end, especially for books, but then, I’ve only been doing this for less than two years! The other danger you have to worry about is that, when you have a low rate, you might get lots of jobs, albeit being paid less; but a high rate means that you’ll get paid more, but you might not have as many jobs. It’s up to your discretion to decide which jobs you want to take at what price to make it all worth it.

Also, as always, consider your time limits and personal ability. If freelancing is a secondary job, you’ll have to figure out how long certain work will take, and if you’re getting paid enough for those extra hours. Or, if a task takes a long time for you to do, you might want to charge more or rethink your strategy. One of my first jobs was writing articles at $9 each, which wasn’t great, but not bad for a beginner like me, especially if it took me an hour to do one. The problem was, those articles took far longer than an hour for me to do, which was endlessly frustrating, time-consuming, and barely worth the effort at that price. It was a good job that kept me afloat for a long time, but I was very glad when it ended, and I was forced to look for work that would make me happier to do (editing!).

In short, there’s no real fast and easy answer to the question of how much should you charge. Just remember: your time is valuable, no matter what anybody says. Your rate may fluctuate, there may be long periods in which you can’t get any jobs at all, but as long as you persevere, you will get work.  Keep on an eye on competition, make yourself known in the market, and do good work. You’ll be a rockin’ and rollin’ freelance editor in no time!

Do you have any advice for those wondering how much to charge for their services? Sound off in the comments below!

“Exchange Money Conversion to Foreign Currency” by epSos .de is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

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