We’re excited when we first start our business. We have the freedom to choose who we work with, we’re selective about our work, and…we can figure out our freelancer rates?

The question we all ask ourselves when we’re starting our business – how do we decide what to charge?

Do we charge per item? Per project? Per hour? The pricing questions are endless.

Freelancer rates vary, based on time, value, industry, and location.

Before you set prices for your services, sit down with paper, a pen, and a calculator – free of distractions – and estimate how much time each task will take you.

Think of all the scenarios in your freelance business – from troubleshooting technical concerns to article word count, travel time to visit a client for a photo shoot or a lunch meeting.

Outside of the work, also factor in the cost of doing business – all the behind-the-scenes work that takes place when we create invoices, speak with clients on the phone, and respond to emails.

Here’s a look at popular jobs in the market and the recommended freelancer rates from Upwork, PayScale, Glassdoor, and Comparably.

Content Writing

Hourly rate: $30-100
Average salary: $61,317

Content writing is a versatile service, ranging from writing ad copy to magazine features, researching topics and writing informative blog posts.

For smaller content writing projects, we recommend charging per item. If you’re writing a freelance article for a local newspaper or magazine, the publication will most likely give you a set rate, or they’ll ask you for your rate. Negotiate when needed and make sure you’re paid for your experience.

A few ways to break down your content writing pricing are:

1) Per word – charging per word(s) is a common way to for clients to understand how much content you’ll provide. You’ll know how long it takes you to crank out 500 words versus 1,000 words.

2) Per item – this is most common when publications choose a set rate per article. Keep in mind how long it will take you to complete the article, including research and interview time, so you stay within your paid time limit.

3) Per project – for more extensive content writing that lasts a few months, charging per project guarantees a set number of posts per week and/or per month. This is great for signing on clients to long-term, contracted work.

Think about project revisions, how many edits you’ll include, and how much it will cost the client to request additional article modifications.

Social Media Management

Hourly rate: $15-30
Average salary: $55,066

Many social media management projects focus on writing, photographing, and scheduling posts using software such as Buffer and Hootsuite. As a popular form of online marketing, social media management offers businesses the value of reaching audiences and creating an online presence to back up their experience.

But managing social media for business involves more than writing – it requires engaging the community with questions and comments, interpreting analytics, and guiding clients on the next steps to attract customers after reviewing reports.

Consider social media platforms in your project scope – do you support social media management for Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter to help businesses engage local and national audiences? Or do you focus on Facebook and LinkedIn to attract new business owners to your clients’ services?

Your rate will depend on the platforms you manage, time spent managing each platform, engaging with audiences, and providing reports.

Graphic Design

Hourly rate: $25-150
Average salary: $55,944

Graphic design opportunities are infinite. Logos, printing, artwork, flyers, brochures, business branding. Finding out the client’s target audience and end goal are crucial for providing a rate.

Note the number of revisions you’ll include, estimate the time it takes to brainstorm design options with your client, speaking with the client before, during, and after the project, and reviewing the design market based on your location. 

If you work remotely, you might research what other graphic designers charge in the areas where your clients live.

During the client consultation, clarify where the designs will appear. Small social media infographics – posted in accounts based on followers, customer base, and audience reach – might contain a different value than a large billboard design. The project size and audience exposure may affect your rates.


Average hourly rate: $40-100
Average salary: $40,606

Research and communication are the two most important factors to set your rates as a freelance photographer. Keep in mind, your location and session type will affect your rates.

Find photographers in your area and compare pricing based on the session type. Wedding photography will offer radically different rates than headshot photography.

Setting rates per session is the best way to set expectations for your clients. No two sessions will be the same as photography is a very customized service.

Ask your clients questions to understand what they want, how you can help them, and what price(s) would best fit the project.

You can offer add-on options before, during, and after sessions, such as additional digital products, printed photos, and other custom photo gifts, which may vary per item.

Consider your travel time to and from the session location, as well as the number of retouched photos, additional edits, and any other revisions you might need to complete.

Where is the session? How long will you need to setup at the location? What’s the session length, and how much time will you need in post-production to edit and deliver the final products to the customer?

Ask yourself these questions to determine the best rates for your photography services.

Create clear client proposals to explain your rates.

Websites like AND CO and Wave Financial provide an easy way to create proposals so you can list your freelancer services and send a project scope to kick off your working relationship. Request a deposit when you want to hold your client and yourself accountable.

If something changes at any point in the project, communicate with your clients. Whether you need to charge a rush fee for a quicker turnaround time, or you need an extension to fully complete a task, have a conversation about it.

Once you’ve narrowed down your project rates, include a detailed explanation of services to make the scope clear for your client. Build a professional rapport with your client to make this project – and future projects – run smoothly.

Flat rate vs. hourly rate? Price your projects based on your value.

You’ll get to know your workflow better as you work with more clients and track your project times. There’s no right or wrong answer whether you should charge a flat rate per project or an hourly rate when you own your own business.

Outside of your regular rates, also consider project longevity. How long would you like to work with your client? Are your services something that would benefit your client as a long-term project?

Discover what works best for you, your business, your clients, and stick with it.

Remember: freelancer rates will vary per project and per client. Be proud of your skills and know your value.

Written By: Kelly Lamano
With 9 years of multimedia experience, Kelly helps businesses connect with audiences through quality content and vibrant photographs. Outside of creative projects, you’ll find her exploring nature trails and re-watching episodes of The Office. Keep up with Kelly’s adventures at 
Twentysomething Vision.