What Is A Market Rate?

Mahesh Raj Mohan

Mahesh Raj Mohan

I am a full-time Portland freelance copywriter, editor, and content marketing specialist. I help companies with white papers, case studies, technical writing, product copy, and more.

Last month’s Enlighten Writing blog post discussed why I don’t think writer/editors should work for free. I discussed the importance of a market rate.  But what is a market rate?  And how does a writer or editor determine her or his market rate?

The Business Dictionary defines a market rate as, “the usual price in the market.”  Well, that’s pretty vague!  In my experience, many things determine a freelance writer/editor’s market rate. Talent, years of experience, specific skills, and the time it takes to perform certain tasks are major factors.  The discussion gets a little more complicated for the market rates of salaried writer/editors.  When I wrote and edited content as an employee, healthcare costs, days off, 401(k), and so on, were added to my market rate.  And, of course, market rate is based on what a buyer is willing to pay.

Amber James [was] a marketing copywriter in Portland and the founder of the Copywriter Conclave of Portland.  She said, “the flexibility to set their rates enables freelancers to take control of their income and create some stability for themselves. It’s very difficult to plan your life when you don’t know how much money you’ll have next month. Rates are determined per project, and based on earning preferences.  That’s how freelancers make a living.”

And many companies also understand what goes into a market rate.

Liz McBride is a talent agent at Portland creative staffing agency Vitamin T (a division of Aquent).  She says her client companies, “will set the rate and reach out to talent with particular skill sets in their price range.”  When a company doesn’t understand a particular market rate, agents like Liz will often explain what copywriters and editors charge for certain skills.

If you freelance, and you haven’t thought about your market rate, consider talking with other freelancers in your area, or get in touch with an agency like Vitamin T or Aquent.  Negotiating your fee can also help you learn which clients understand your value and which ones are just “tire kickers.”

If you need a writer or editor, and you want to know more, feel free to contact me!

If you freelance (or you own a small business), how do you determine your market rate?

Image:  Microsoft Clip Art.

Handshake (Microsoft Clip Art)








3 thoughts on “What Is A Market Rate?”

  1. Natalia Sylvester

    That’s one of the first questions most new freelancers ask, and I think it’s so important for them to realize that they’re the ones who have to set their market rate–according to their needs, talents, skills, etc. As a bonus, it’s pretty empowering, too. I recently started speaking with recruiting agents, and I think that’s a great tip. Nice post!

  2. Mahesh Raj Mohan

    Hi Natalia! Totally agreed on the empowerment, because it is so specific to what we’re offering. Thanks for commenting and the compliment, 🙂

  3. Pingback: Time Traveling 2013 Year in Review | Enlighten Writing | Enlighten Writing

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