What to Charge for Online Writing

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Q: Do you have any suggestions on compensation for writing online? –Jillian L.

A: Unfortunately, there's no easy answer for this question. While there is pay for online writing, there isn't much. Worse yet, it's often hard to come by unless you are an expert in a field that lacks experts or you're writing advertorial text. Even then, I wouldn't count on pulling in big dollars (or even medium dollars).

Magazine and newspaper editors generally don't have a budget for online content (though most are clamoring for one), so they try to compensate writers in ways other than monetary payments—allowing them to plug a book, website or other item; offering writers an advertising spot in a newsletter; etc. These elements (often referred to as "loss-leaders" because you lower your rates up front to make more money on the backend) can be valuable if you have a book to sell or can get people to sign up for a class that you teach. Even if you don't have a product to peddle, at the very least you can gain more credibility as a writer and add to your portfolio of clips. You can also get in good with an editor, making it more likely you can secure print assignment that carry a more significant payout.

If you are looking to quote a price for an editor, WritersMarket.com has a "What to Charge" pay breakdown for several different types of online writing (special thanks to Writer's Market Editor Robert Lee Brewer for allowing me to share this "behind-the-wall" info with you):

• Web page writing: $40-125 per hour (or 21 cents to $2.62 per word)
• E-mail copywriting: $65 -$125 per hour (or $300 per e-mail)
• Online editing: $25-$100 per hour (or $3-4 per page)

While these numbers are a pretty good measure of where to place yourself when given the opportunity to quote a price, they also are by no means a guarantee that you'll get an offer in that range. Much like freelancing for print, it's a market-by-market, assignment-by-assignment type of thing. And far more publishers are offering deals like the ones mentioned at the beginning of this answer (plug a book, gain a clip) than they are offering payment for online content.

Ultimately, the ball will be in your court and you'll have to decide whether the payment you are offered—be it cash or otherwise— is worth your time.

Brian A. Klems is the online community editor of Writer’s Digest magazine.

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