How to Ask for More Money – Tips for Freelance Writers

Writers, knowing how to ask for more money takes self-confidence, experience, and a bit ‘o moxy! These tips for freelance writers will help you increase your per word rates from from 50 cents to a dollar or two per word, or from $20 to $50 per hour.

And, it may be easier than you think to make more money writing…

“Exploit the remarkable power of asking. Telling can be perceived as bossy, dismissive, and patronizing,” writes P.M. Forni in in The Civility Solution: What to Do When People Are Rude. “Asking is always validating. Someone is being hostile and rude? Ask what her or she suggests to bring about a satisfactory solution…When you favor asking over telling, the other person is less likely to become defensive and escalate a confrontation. Furthermore, you may come across innovative and smart solutions you wouldn’t have thought of yourself.”

Negotiating your per word or per hour rate as a freelance writer is part of making money writing — and that involves the “ask.” To learn more, read The Wealthy Freelancer: 12 Secrets to a Great Income and an Enviable Lifestyle.

And, here are five tips for making money freelancing…

How to Ask for More Money

1. Ask questions about how much money the client is offering. When a client offers, say, $20 an hour, I say, “Twenty dollars an hour seems a little low to me – it’s lower than my normal freelance writing rate. Can we raise it to $50 per hour?” It’s a simple question, and clients can say no if they want. I may or may not lose the assignment – but I gain self-respect and self-confidence as a freelance writer when I tell potential clients and editors how much money I make writing! Freelancers need to ask for what they want clearly and honestly.

2. Be clear about why you are worth $50 an hour as a freelance writer. Why do I think I deserve $50 an hour as a freelance writer? Because my articles need hardly any editing, I always turn them in on time or early, I cite reliable sources, I stay focused on my topic, I stick to word count, I have a consistent writing style, and I’m easy to work with. If you want to ask for and make more money writing, you need to be clear about why you deserve it. If you feel worthy, your “ask” will be much more confident.

3. Give reasons that support your request for more money. For a couple of years, I freelanced for a magazine that only paid 35 cents a word. It was the first magazine to ever assign me an article, so even when I was earning $1 or $2 per word with other magazines, I stuck with them. But then I decided my freelance writing skills were worth more, so I said, “I’ve enjoyed writing for this magazine for almost two years. Since my work has been good, and I’m prompt and reliable, can we raise my fee to 50 cents a word?” They immediately said yes…and I kicked myself for not asking for more money! Better to ask for too much money and have room for negotiation, than to ask for too little and get it.

4. Take your clients’ and editors’ situations into account. I only asked for 50 cents a word from that magazine because they require so little follow up work. I submit my assignment, and they publish it more or less as is. And they pay on time and promptly send me a copy of the magazine. Also, I know they have a low budget, and most of their articles are written for free.  So, I balanced my request for more money with how great they are to work with. One of the most important tips for freelance writers who want to make money writing is to balance a big paycheck (such as $2 a word for a 1,000 word feature article) with how much work is involved after the article is submitted.

5. Expect to negotiate for more money writing. I’ve rarely had to negotiate my rates — probably because I don’t actively look for writing work. My “Quips and Tips” blogs are my primary source of income, and I’d love to focus on them alone. I don’t pitch article ideas, but I do accept article assignments when editors give them — and I only work for $1 per word or $50 per hour. When an editor or client offers me less, I tell them my standard rates. Sometimes we meet halfway in the middle of my rate and their original offer, sometimes they give me what I want, and sometimes we decide to go separate ways. No matter what, it’s a good learning experience — and I can always blog about it!

If you have any questions or thoughts on how to ask for more money writing, please comment below…

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6 thoughts on “How to Ask for More Money – Tips for Freelance Writers”

  1. Aimee Larsen Stoddard

    Hi, Laurie —

    Thanks for the info. I recently turned down additional work from a newspaper that was paying 10 cents per word. I was finding that the stories required too much effort for too little compensation. I’ve had some second thoughts about my decision, but perhaps it was the right decision after all.

    Thanks again! 🙂

  2. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Hi Aimee,

    I’ve been offered 20 cents a word from the Vancouver Sun, and 50 cents a word from the Globe & Mail. And, I know many people write for their local papers for free, just for the experience.

    So I guess I’d say the ballpark is 20-50 cents a word, depending of course on the newspaper….the rate increases if you’re syndicated, well-known, or a celebrity! I bet the Dog Whisperer Cesar Milan would get far more than $1 a word if he wrote for newspapers 🙂

  3. Aimee Larsen Stoddard

    I’m wondering what the standard rate per word for newspaper writing is. I know this is largely dependent on the circulation, but I’m wondering if you know what the ballpark is. Thanks!

  4. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Hi Annie ~ Yes, I definitely think you can negotiate with newspapers! You can negotiate with any client who pays you money. However, in my experience, newspapers have less money to pay freelancers than magazines do. So, ask for a bit more money — but decide in advance if you’re prepared to continue writing for what you’re already getting. Also, you might consider asking for something in lieu of more money, such as a link to your website or blog from the online articles you’ve written for them.

    Hi John ~ Thanks for your tip for making more money writing! I think it’s brilliant to ask clients what their budgets are for particular projects.

    Happy writing,

  5. Laurie, these are very good ideas for boosting writing income.

    I personally never bring up hourly rates and always bid on the entire project. This allows me to get at least $50 per hour, and usually more.

    And when I’m negotiating the fee, I follow your advice above, especially if they ask me how much I’ll do it for. I reply “What’s your budget for this project?”

  6. Does this advice go out the window when writing for a newspaper? I am getting what I assume to be a flat rate. I am good – I provide articles that meet the brief, require very, very little editing. I am reliable, and deliver on or before deadline. I am also relatively new – but they keep coming back for more work from me, and I have heard from a third party that they rate me highly. Just curious to know in your experience if there is any point in attempting to negotiate what a daily newspaper will pay for features.