Should You Charge Per Word, Per Hour or Per Project

Should You Charge Per Word, Per Hour or Per Project

June 11, 2019 VA Services Writing 3
freelance pricing models

If you’ve been offering content writing and translation services for a while, then you know that the industry standard is to charge per word or per hour. Some freelancers charge on a per project basis but that’s a less common approach that works best for larger projects. But how to figure out which pricing model works best for you and your clients? Let’s have a look at some scenarios, so that you’ll know how to price your services correctly when you’re negotiating with your next prospective client.

When to Charge Per Word

If you ask around, you’ll find out that most freelance writers, translators, and writing services agencies prefer the per word pricing model. Charging per word is a solid model for articles, blog posts, and white papers, it doesn’t work well for other types of copy.

Let’s have a look at the advantages and disadvantages of charging per word.


  • Simplicity – the writer produces the content, looks at the word counter, and calculates the price of the article.
  • Transparency – the client can predict how much the piece of content will cost and the writer knows how much he or she will earn.


  • Little room for revisions – charging per word doesn’t leave the writer much room for revisions because, unless agreed otherwise, revisions will be free for the client. That’s fine when you’re working with less demanding clients who are happy with your content as is, but it can become a real problem if you’re working with someone who accepts content only after 4-5 revisions.
  • Not suitable for shorter copy – charging per word doesn’t work if your main line of business is writing ad copy, social media copy, and other shorter pieces because you may spend hours polishing a short ad.
  • Not great for fiction translation – if you’re a translator specializing in fiction, you might be better off charging per project or even per hour. Translating fiction usually takes a lot longer than working with other types of text because you basically need to recreate the story in another language. Also, numerous revisions are common in fiction translation, which would result in reduced earnings.

In short, if you’re a paid blogger or an article writer, charging per word can work very well for you. But if you specialize in ad copy, tag lines, brand copy, and fiction translation, you should consider other pricing models.

When to Charge Per Hour

Charging per hour is a pricing model preferred by virtual assistants, creative copywriters specializing in branding and advertising copy, and occasionally translators specializing in fiction. Freelancers working through Upwork and similar platforms also prefer to be paid on a per hour basis. So, let’s see if charging per hour is for you.


  • Worry-free planning – freelancers who charge per hour know that an hour spent on a task means money earned.
  • Financial security for longer projects – if you’re part of a large project or sign a contract for ongoing work, charging for your time gives you financial security, the closest you’d ever get to traditional employment.


  • Overall inefficiency – often, charging per hour means that it pays off to be less efficient and take longer to complete certain tasks. Often, freelance writers slow down subconsciously when they charge per hour instead of per word.
  • The need to use a time tracker – a lot of clients who hire freelancers and pay an hourly rate require the freelancer to install a time tracker app that not only tracks time but also takes random screenshots. Some clients go as far as question every single pause in the freelancer’s activity. And that’s far from pleasant.

Charging per hour is a great billing method as long as you know that you won’t be pressured and your client knows that you won’t be cheating in any way.

When to Charge Per Project

If you go to a freelance marketplace site like Upwork, you’ll see that a lot of projects use a fixed price model. This method makes the most sense for the client because the client decides how much or how little they want to pay for a certain task. But where does charging per project leave you, the freelancer?


  • Clarity – you know from the start how much you’re going to earn.
  • Easier decision-making – if you have the necessary experience as a freelance writer, translator or designer, you will be able to quickly decide whether the price matches your skills or not.


  • Difficult to estimate the workload – with fixed price projects, it can be difficult to assess the project’s difficulty without requesting additional information from the client. Rushing into things may result in spending a lot of time on a project that doesn’t pay very well in the end.
  • Possible disagreements with the client – often, clients come up with additional tasks that weren’t in the original scope. You need to be very careful when you’re signing a contract for a fixed price project and be very specific on what’s included and what’s not. For example, clients often want translators to also act as editors and proofreaders. Make sure you let the client know these services need to be billed as separate items and are not included in the basic translation job.

We hope that this post helped you decide which pricing model works best for you and understand how different freelance project work. Let us know what’s your favorite pricing model and why in your comments!

3 Responses

  1. Mira says:

    Wow, did not know that ! great post.

  2. […] market your products more effectively, boost your social media engagement, and more. VAs usually charge per hour but you may find people who’ll agree on a fixed per-project […]

  3. Margaret says:

    I find that most clients like to work with a per project approach and they seem to always like to add extras. Over the years I’ve made sure to create estimates (client needs to approve) with a note that any additional changes to the scope of work (write all of the details out), will be charged accordingly or at an hourly rate. It keeps everybody on track.

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