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While I have a few articles published, they were easy fixed rates. Today, however, I've received this email (identifying details removed):

We need a writer to put together descriptions of -------------- ------------------ for our -------------- website. Is this something you would be interested in? If so, can you please send some writing examples / rates for work, be they hourly or per word.

How does one come up with rates for this? I've found some pieces on about.com etc but they are like $10-$90 per hour, which is so vague it's almost useless.

Suggestions appreciated!

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Although not the same question, some of the advice given on here should help: writers.stackexchange.com/questions/2831/… – Craig Sefton Aug 26 '11 at 8:55
up vote 5 down vote accepted

It's a hard question to answer.

I've set $20/hr as my personal goal for writing. And I'm making it, but it averages out strangely. I might spend twenty hours on a short story that will only earn $60 because I want exposure to a new market - I'm essentially using the story as an advertisement, not as a tool for earning money. I compensate for that by making more than $20 an hour for my novels, at least so far, but maybe I wouldn't if I also counted all the time I spend networking and writing promo work and whatever else.

Also, I'm essentially just playing a game, because I love writing and would do it for free. I also have a stable, well-paid job, so I don't NEED the extra money from writing.

If you're trying to make a living at something, you need to take things a bit more seriously. But I'd ask yourself a few questions:

What can you afford?

Are you taking time away from other projects to work on this one? Roughly how much would you earn on the other projects?

How bad do you want this job? (ie. is it just another job, or would it give you valuable exposure, a foot in the door somewhere, etc.)

What's the market like (I know, this one is tough)? What can the company afford to pay you?

Those last ones are probably the ones you're having trouble with, right?

You may want to put the question back to the people who contacted you. Respond with a writing sample, as they've requested, but say "rates negotiable". Let them come to you with a number. It might work!

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Damn, great answer, hadn't considered putting it back on them but I've literally just a couple of hours ago sent off a quote. I aimed low given it's a new market, so I guess that was on the right track, but next time will remember the 'rates negotiable' option :) – Mark Mayo Aug 26 '11 at 21:31

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