Freelance Rates Survey Results

Survey A few weeks ago, I discovered that freelance editing rates is the most popular search term people use to find this blog and the most popular post is How Much Will It Cost? Average Freelance Editing Rates. I decided to update the information in a new series and created an online survey to gather information.

The results of the survey are available as a PDF download. Only 45 people responded, and most of them were writers rather than editors. I’m not sure how statistically significant the results are, but political polls make headlines with only a thousand or two responses representing millions of voters.

The report includes the following:

  • The data as compiled by Survey Monkey: each question with the number of responses and the corresponding percentage for each multiple choice answer
  • Comments submitted on each question
  • A summary of the results by the length of time the respondents have freelanced—the time frames were compressed in the report because of the small number of respondents
  • Charts showing the breakdown for the length of time (5 or fewer years, 5 to 15 years, and more than 15 years) and for the kind of freelancer (writer, editor, writer-editor)

Highlights of the results:

  • There is a wide range in freelance prices, from less than $5/hour to more than $150/hour.
  • The results are skewed toward less experienced freelancers. Nearly 1/4 of the respondents have freelanced 1 to 5 years part-time; more than 15% have freelanced less than 1 year part-time.
  • More than half are primarily Web writers; only 1 is an editor only; 7 are writer-editors.
  • Regular clients and referrals are the primary ways the respondents find work, but other sources are also important.
  • About 22% charge an hourly rate; an equal number charge by the project.
  • Three respondents charge less than $5/hour. Two charge $100 to $125/hour, and one charges more than $150/hour. The most popular rate is $20 to $30/hour.
  • Rates seemed more closely correlated to length of time freelancing than whether the freelancer is part-time or full-time. All those charging less than $5/hour are part-timers who have freelanced less than 5 years. The writer who charges more than $150/hour is also a part-timer (10 to 15 years as a freelancer).
  • Nearly 2/3 require clients to request a quote and do not post their rates.

I’m not a statistician; in fact, I’m not even good at math. Let me know if you find an error in the report.

Look over the survey results. Do you think the numbers have any statistical validity? Did anything either surprise you or validate your current ideas about freelance rates? Is there anything in the results useful to you, either as a freelancer setting your own prices or as a client wondering how much work will cost? Please leave your thoughts in a comment.

In the next installment in this series (in a week or two), I’ll discuss how to go about setting prices.

Updated 12/3/09 with two points:

  • I have become extremely busy and don’t have time to devote to the research and writing needed to continue this series right away. The series will resume  in January.
  • One question I did not ask that I should have was where the freelancer was located. Someone suggested that I can look up the IP addresses of the respondents and correlate them to a country. I will attempt to do that when I have more time. Perhaps that will give a better picture—$5/hour is less than minimum wage in the US but is respectable pay in some parts of the world.

Creative Commons License photo credit: pinguino

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