Online Writer with 2+ Yrs Exp Asks, “How Much Should I Charge for SEO Blogging, Writing, Etc.?”

How much to charge for writing SEO content is a perennial question I receive. The New Year is when a lot of freelancer writers and wannabe freelancer writers gear up to get started, expand, revamp and/or revise their businesses, so I thought now was a good time to tackle the following question, which I received back on October 21st.

What Is a Reasonable Market Rate for SEO Blogging, Etc.?

This freelance copywriter – who’s been at it for over two years now – wrote:

Hey Yuwanda,

I hope all is well!! I reached out to you awhile back and wanted to say thanks for motivating me to get started in this industry. I have been copywriting professionally for two years now and have had the opportunity to work on a lot of different projects. It has been a fun and exciting experience, but I am at the point now where I am starting to question my rates. Knowing what to charge for my services is one of the most difficult problems I struggle with, so I am reaching out for a bit of help.

The majority of the work I do is SEO blogging, and I typically charge $15 per 400 word blog post. I have worked on a lot of higher paying projects (landing pages and such) and have never had any complaints regarding the quality of my work. I just feel I am undercutting myself by charging too little (one client recently asked why I charge so little), but at the same time have no idea what is a reasonable market rate. Do you have any advice on how I should approach this? I would definitely appreciate any and all help you can give me. Thanks so much and I look forward to hearing back!~RB

My Answer

Before I give advice on how to set your rates for writing SEO content, let me start with my usual disclaimer, which is, I firmly believe in NOT telling freelancers what to charge.

SEO Content Writing Rates: How to Determine What to ChargeOne reason is that freelance writing rates are all over the place. But, the main reason I don’t like to tell freelancers what to charge is because every person is different.

No one knows what you financial situation is but you. So, if writing blog posts for $15 each allows you to meet your financial obligations, then who am I to tell you that that is “too cheap,” or cheating yourself.

My bottom line when it comes to setting SEO writing rates is this, “Tune out what others are saying and charge what you feel is right for you AFTER you’ve done your research.”

With that being said, following is my advice on how to set a “reasonable” market rate – one that doesn’t cheat you, and that makes it pretty easy to land clients.

A Step-by-Step Plan for Determining How Much to Charge as an SEO Writer in 2015

1. Check Industry Standard Rates: It helps to know what the going rates are in your industry. Professional publications like Writer’s Digest can serve as a guide for this type of knowledge.

I have to say though, I use these only as a starting point to gain foundational knowledge. I don’t use the rates listed to set my rates because I find them to be out of touch somewhat with what goes on in the real world of freelance copywriting.

2. Research: The easiest way to learn about rate setting is to see what others are charging. So check out the sites of 10, 15 or 20 SEO writers and see what they’re charging. When you’re perusing the sites of other freelancers, try to find those who are most similar to you in, for example: (a) niche specialization, (b) skill set, and (c) experience.

3. Job Boards: In my opinion, this is one of the best ways to gauge how much to charge. The reason is, many times the rates are what’s being offered by Elance.com, Craigslist and any niche industry boards you can find (within your specialty).

Just like the advice I gave in #1 above, use this as a way to gain foundational knowledge; don’t use it as a be-all-end-all guide to what to charge. The reason I say this is, you’re going to find that rates are all over the place – from the ridiculous like $3 for 700 words, to the pretty good paying (eg, $100 for 350 words). In spite of this though, it helps to know what clients are willing to pay for a particular piece of writing.

4. Survey Clients: This freelancer has over two years of experience. He could put together an informal survey that specifically asks clients what they pay for blog posts, 500-word articles, newsletter content etc. If you decide to do this, keep your list of questions short – eg, three to five. And be sure to spell out the benefits for them. For example, you could say something along the lines of …

It’s the New Year and I realize you may be setting your budget for content marketing, among other needs. My goal is to help you maximize it by giving you the high-quality, results-getting content at the most reasonable rates. To this end, could you take a couple of minutes to answer the following four questions, blah, blah, blah …

You can email this directly to existing and prospective clients, and/or leave it as a running survey on your site. Be prepared to get very few responses, but even half a dozen or so answers can provide valuable insight that you can use to properly set your rates.

5. Check Your Finances: What do you need to live on? There is no sense in setting your rates to earn less than what you need to live on. You might as well find something else to do.

So if after you gather all of the information listed above, and you decide that you need to be charging $75 per post and you need to do at least two per day to meet your monthly obligations, then do that – if you’ve determined that the market can bear that.

When and Why to Charge More for Your SEO Writing Services

Just know, the higher your rate, the harder it will be to land clients, BUT one thing I’ve seen over and over and over again as a freelancer is that many clients are willing to pay more than freelance writers are apt to charge. It’s something almost all small business owners suffer from – charging too much.

It’s happened to me; like this freelancer, I actually had a potential client ask me if my rates were real (ie, why I was charging so little).

SEO writing has matured. As I wrote near the end of this post, clients are no longer looking for content hacks to churn out key worded copy. These days, they want results – and they’re willing to pay for it.

So after you do your homework and come up with a rate, tack on an additional 10 to 25 percent. This is what I refer to as the “getting over the fear factor” surcharge. Like I said just above, these days clients want results — and they’re willing to pay for them, usually much more than we as freelance writers are willing to charge.

Related Post: Freelance Writers: How Much Should You Be Charging to Write SEO Content in 2014?

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