Freelance Writing Rates in India in 2020: What to Charge?

Setting your freelance writing rates in 2020, especially as a new freelance writer in India will be one of the biggest dilemmas you will face.

Setting your freelance writing rates in 2020, especially as a new freelance writer in India will be one of the biggest dilemmas you will face. For new freelance content writers, who are still discovering what content writing really includes and how they can become better at their jobs, deciding how much to charge for content writing can be extremely daunting. 

At one end, you want to land a paid project no matter what, but at the other end, you also want to get paid for all the time you are putting in. I have personally seen writers deliberately charge lesser than what they deserve just to get a project they really wanted.

But, I have also seen freelance writers regret their decision of undercharging as they start working on the project and realize they are not getting paid for all their hard work. 

Here’s a simple rule that I always follow — One high paying freelance writing project is better than two underpaid projects.

I even had a budding freelance content writer reach out to me with these questions 

I just saw your website, it’s lovely and helpful!

I have a few questions:

  1. What is the current market rate content writing price per word in India?
  2. How do I get in touch with high paying clients? I always stumble upon clients that pay ridiculously less. like, INR 80 per 600 words. It is only recently that I’ve found someone who is ready to pay 50 paise per word.
  3. I am sick of writing boring SEO articles and looking forward to writing for interesting lifestyle pieces, how do I contact such websites?

First of all, thank you for liking my website 🙂

1-  Well, that is an extremely subjective question. The current market rate depends highly on the type of writing you are doing and the kind of clients you are working with.

Freelance writing rates for generic SEO blog posts would go somewhere between 0.5 INR – 5 INR per word. See the vast variation? That is because it really is very subjective.

80 rs per 600 words is extremely less, and you shouldn’t be working with those kind of clients.

2- To find high paying clients, you first need to create a profile and portfolio that fits the needs of these clients. Otherwise, you might not be able to get new clients even you find them. Start by honing your skills by taking up some online content writing coursesWhen you are confident about your skills, you can find freelance writing jobs on the job posting websites or job boards

3- There are many magazines and publications that pay freelance writers and readily accept pitches 

How to Calculate Your Freelance Writing Rates

Your freelance writing rates don’t have to be synonymous with your permanent job. In fact, keeping your content writing charges in India similar to your office desk job could end you up in a loss.

You need to accurately calculate your content writing rates in India so that you can afford to live exclusively through your freelance writing income. This calculation is very important because if you don’t do it right, you might just be working more and getting paid less.

Assess the benefits you get from your job

Here are some of the benefits I used to get from my permanent job

  • Salary apart from all the taxes that were already deducted
  • A 10 lacs health insurance cover + 5k payment for any medicines or medical treatment
  • Life insurance
  • Paid Medical Leaves+ Casual Leaves
  • Leave without pay for more than a year
  • All the equipment and stationary I needed for work
  • Reimbursement of any technical certificate or training I did
  • Free coffee (I haven’t forgotten that at all)
  • Food coupons with tax redemption
  • Free of cost Holiday homes (If I could book it)
  • I worked at TCS so I got discounts at all of Tata’s companies including Tanishq, Tata motors, Westside and of course, Star Bucks
  • Corporate discounts at almost all the restaurants I ate at

Now, as you can see, I might be getting paid way less than what I am getting paid right now but I had a lot of other benefits through my permanent job and I am guessing that you do too. So just assuming that you need to earn exactly the same from freelancing as you do from your office job is absolutely wrong. You got to earn more than that to become a full-time freelance writer so that you can pay for all the other benefits.

Things you would need to pay for as a freelance writer

  • Laptop, internet, and their maintenance cost
  • Health Insurance (I still don’t have that)
  • Life insurance
  • Paid leaves or sick leaves
  • TDS (Tax deducted at source), if you are working with a Pvt. Ltd
  • GST, if you are earning more than 20 lacs a year from Indian clients
  • Any phone bills involved
  • All Starbucks coffee

As you can see, there is a lot that needs to be done when you are doing it on your own as a Freelance Writer. But just setting up a fixed rate is also not enough. If you have been doing this for a long time, you will know some projects require way more time than others. Some clients would ask you to find images and upload them on WordPress as well. If you do that, make sure to charge them extra for it since you are not just writing.

I would say, calculate your fixed-job salary and then add all the extra things you would have to pay as a full-time freelancer in India. The final number you get is the minimum amount you should be earning every month. Divide that final number with the total hours you would be putting every month, and that is your freelance hourly rate.

All of your other estimations and your rates should be based on this rate.

Finalizing Freelance Writing Rates: Fixed, Hourly, or Variable?

Fixed rates

By fixed rate, we mean defining a fixed per word rate for all the work that you do. This allows you to set a fixed pricing chart that you can share with your clients, which will save your time, and theirs. But it’s not that simple as it looks.

Writing an in-depth technical piece might take you much longer than writing a travel piece, even if they both need the same number of words. In that case, charging the same per word rate for content writing in India for all types of content, might not be fair to you as a freelance writer. You could put out different per word rates for different categories, but again its too complicated.

The right way would be to have 3-4 different slabs for freelance writing rates. 

Charge the lowest for the topics that would take you the least time and highest for the topics that would make you the most time. Again, even for this, you need to understand the client requirements before providing them with a rate.

Hourly rates

As freelance writers, you should be getting paid for the time you are putting in every day. That is why many freelance writers like to charge hourly rates to make the entire pricing model easy for them and the clients.

Charging hourly does get you exactly what you should be getting paid per hour, but here are a few catches with it:

1- When you start working on a new project, the first few articles take longer. But once you get the hang of things, you are able to do the same work faster. Now, it is because of your productivity and effort that you are able to do the same thing in a short amount of time, but that does not mean you should be getting paid less for it? For every article you do, you should be getting paid the same because you are putting at the same time.

2- Clients often find it difficult to track hours put in by freelance writers and it often leads to them getting confused with pricing or restricting writers to only certain hours a week.

3- Writer’s block is a real thing. When you are most productive, you might be able to finish a 2000 word piece in an hour. But when you are just not feeling it, finishing the same piece can take over 2 days. It is not fair to the client if you overcharge them because you have a writers block.

You can also set your proofreading rates, editing rates, and ghostwriting rates accordingly.

Variable pay

Variable pay means you charge every client variably depending on their content and delivery requirements. It could be a fixed payment for the entire project, a per-word payment, or hourly. The best part is, you don’t have to stick to one payment model and you can modify it for every project.

This is the way you should set your freelance writing rates because it guarantees that you will get paid what you deserve and the client will only pay for the work they asked. Yes, it can be a little time consuming because you will have to give each client a different rate, but in the long run, it is definitely more beneficial.

Things to keep in mind while setting your freelance writing rates in 2020

There is no perfect price

There really isn’t. It all depends on you. There is no per-word pricing or per hour pricing, the price should be equivalent to your hard work.

You will often find yourself competing against writers who charge way less than your imagination. These are the same writers who don’t think they can provide the required quality, and hence, they lower down their rates to get more work.

And often, good writers get intimidated by these low-paid writers, and they get tempted to lower their rates as well.

Don’t lower your rates to get more work

When I started out, I saw two kinds of freelance writers that appalled me– One who was very rich and decided their own rates. They looked like writers, but they weren’t.

They were running their content writing agencies, giving out work to other writers. These writers cared more about bulk projects than anything else.

And then, there were lowly paid writers who worked for these content writing agencies.

These kinds of writers didn’t decide their own rates. They took whatever rate they were given because they just wanted to work. Most of them were writing 3000-5000 words a day.

But, I didn’t want to be any of these freelance content writers. I wanted to provide quality and that meant I had to increase my rates, more than most writers.

Of course, there was a risk, but I wanted to give it a try because I was sure there were clients around who would appreciate quality over quantity. And I was right!

Keep your rates simple

Do not give every client a new or complicated rate. You are a writer, not an accountant. Keep your rates simple, so its also easier for you to tally.

Remember to negotiate rates from a position of strength. The client does not get to decide the rates, you do.

If you already know the exact amount of work to be done, give the client a total project rate, and be done with it.

If the work will vary, you can decide on per article rates too.

3. Don’t work on hourly rates (If you can)

Clients aren’t paying you for the hours you put into every article, they are paying you for your experience and efforts. 

For instance, I am a technical writer and I handle numerous tech-related content writing projects. 

The first time I handled a technical article about Artificial Intelligence, it took me close to 8-10 hours in total just to research and write this article. But now, several years later, it takes me half the time to write an article about Artificial Intelligence. 

Why? Because I understand the topic really well and I have experience in handling it. I have spent years honing my skills just to cut down the total time it takes for me to handle technical articles.

Does that mean I should charge clients according to 4 hours and not 8 hours? 

No. Because clients are paying me for the expansive experience that I have acquired over the years. That’s why they hire me. 

Do not keep a fixed per word rate

I have seen freelance content writer charge the same fixed per word rate for any kind of project and that is utterly wrong. Some kind of topics might just require an hour to finish 1000 words.

Others might require so much research that it might take you 6-7 hours to complete a 1000 word piece.

Understand the niche, and then charge accordingly. Putting up a fixed rate will only make you end up in a ditch.

Charge for extra work

Don’t just provide extra perks to your clients out of goodwill. While its okay to do some extra work for your long-term clients, some people can take advantage of it.

  • If a client is asking for rushed and priority work, charge extra for it.
  • If a client is asking for extra revisions, charge extra for it

All the work that falls under the scope of the project should be documented and clearly mentioned in your freelance writing contract. You should charge extra for anything that falls outside the scope 

Increase your rates periodically

This is very important when you are just starting. Do not work on the same rates for more than a month. Experiment and increase your prices every now and then. This will give you a space to move on. If you work at the same rates for way too long, you will just end up being at the same place with no scope of improvement.

Do not write FREE SAMPLES for new clients

I cannot stress this enough – Do not write free samples for a client, until and unless you really think they are a genuine client and you don’t have any previously written samples to show them.

The idea is to create an effective portfolio that you can show your clients if they ever ask you for a sample. 

While I sternly believe in not writing free samples for unknown clients, I have written samples for companies like Canva because I really wanted to work with them. This was when I was still a new freelance writer on the block. I knew I could handle the project, but I didn’t have anything to show, which is why I decided to write a sample article for them. I ended up getting Canva as a long-term client and worked with them for over three years.

But keep in mind, most of the clients who ask you for free samples with a promise of ‘I might pay if I like your work’, will never ever pay you. They will probably do the same thing with a number of other writers and VOILA! They have all the articles they wanted, free of charge.

Don’t let anyone trick you into believing you don’t deserve what you are charging

In fact don’t even work with people who tell you that, just run away. These kinds of people are the ones who don’t even appreciate or know good writing, they just want someone who can write for them at cheap rates.

Learn to say no

If a client doesn’t seem to agree with your rates, move on. Trust me when I say this – There are plenty of other fishes in the sea. 

Common FAQs about freelance writing rates

You can charge anything from INR 1-10 per word depending on whether the content is technical or non-technical for website content writing charges in India. You should take into account if you are expected to create content for landing pages that need a lot of impactful taglines.

For highly technical articles, content writers can get an average pay of about INR 4,000-10,000 per 1000-word article. For other niches, the pricing can vary depending on the amount of research and type of content needed 

Anything from INR 5,000 a month to INR 5,00,000. It depends on the niche you handle, your past experience, and the kind of clients you work with. 

Copywriting charges in India can vary greatly. Experienced freelance writers in India charge between INR 4-10 per word

You can charge anything from INR 1-10 per word, depending on the niche of the article (which will be a deciding factor for your rates). If its a simple lifestyle article, you may want to charge less, but you should definitely charge more for technical articles that require a lot of research

Experienced freelance content writers in India charge between INR 4-10 per word. Full-time content writers can expect an annual pay of 7-20 lacs per annum, depending on their experience

Freelance writers usually charge anywhere between $15 - $100 depending on their experience

Freelance content writers should ideally increase their rates by 10-20 percent everywhere. So, to fix your freelance writing 2020 rates, you should make sure to increase your per word pricing. 

You can ask clients to directly pay you through bank transfer or even UPI. There are numerous freelancer payment methods in India that you can use to get paid on time

To get paid on time, you should always raise an invoice to your clients with all the details about the work and the payment. Invoices help you keep track of your money and it also serves as an important document in case the clients refuse to pay you on time. There are many free freelance invoicing apps available online or you can also refer to this freelancer invoice template India.

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17 thoughts on “Freelance Writing Rates in India in 2020: What to Charge?”

  1. What are the current charges per word or 300 or 500 words. Can you please help me? Thank you. Nice information here.

  2. I am also from Mumbai and is doing content writing for some websites, since few year.

    However, as mentioned earlier by few people above, very few companies are ready to lose the purse strings, when payment is concerned. The payment is absolutely abysmal, even though, I do not write less than 40 paisa per word.

    I am interested in meeting you in Bombay. I am also into Bollywood — do you write film scripts (Screenplay) too?

  3. can you help with editing/proof reading rates for beginners ? this will be for proposals, letters, non-tech articles etc. thanks.

  4. Hi thanks for sharing your inputs regarding freelance writing. I recently started to write freelance to make some extra money along my regular job. The nature of writing I do is academic style and needs lot of attention to writing style and referencing. Since I am new to this I would like to know how much could I charge for doing the work ? Thanks

  5. Thanks for the article, but the formatting is such that it is a headache to read. I have to read twice to make out which ones are the questions and which is the answer.

  6. Hey nice read. I am an academic writer who has been writing for an year now for clients. However I am not so happy with the payment per word offered by these agents. I wanted to know how much I could charge per word for scientific level writing from the agencies.

  7. Excellent post. Recently I’ve been hired by Millionairetrek blog (work from home) and they are paying me 50$ per 1000 word article. Do you think it’s worth it as the articles have to be well researched?

  8. Nicely written article. It really gives idea about a lot many factors relating to content writing. I find it very useful. Thanks for sharing.

  9. Hi Ritika,
    I came across your website lately and I’m in love with the content. I can so resonate with your story. I’m a B.Tech graduate too who quit my job to get into content writing. It’s been just 6 months since I’ve been writing, and I’m still finding ways if I’ll be able to do better here. Not sure. But, your website has given me a clearer picture of freelance writing. Thank you so much for the wonderful posts. ♥️

  10. Please let me know the rates for editing, a publishing house has asked me to tell them what I would charge per word for editing.

  11. Your post was very resourceful and helpful and has given me a good idea about the freelancing rates and to keep in mind the fact that not to agree for underpayment just for the sake of getting an assignment.

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