New freelance writers often ask how much they should charge for a particular medical writing project. There is no definitive answer to that: some freelancers charge per hour, others charge per word, and still others charge per project.
I have met medical writers who never charge a flat fee, no matter the project-they think in terms of how much their time is worth. Other writers, however, prefer not to tally hours, but instead put a fixed price on a project-is their decision how many hours to invest in the project.
I believe that the method you choose must depend on your skills, your speed as a writer, and your work habits.
“A slow writer may have a low hourly rate, which would appeal to a client until they get the bill. A faster writer may operate at a premium rate but complete the task in half the time, making him or her cheaper and quicker, which is why you need to talk in terms of the bottom line—the overall cost of the project and the overall benefits to the client. ” (Michael Meanwell, The Wealthy Writer, Writer's Digest Books)
Medical writing hourly rates can be as low as $30 and as high as $180, depending on the type of client, the type of work and the duration of the project.
Type of Client. For instance, a Big Pharma company would pay more per project than a small company. Also, US companies in the East and West coasts are willing to pay more than companies in the Midwest.
Type of Work. Some medical writers charge more for writing than for editing. The reasoning here is that a project that requires research and technical writing is more complex, thus it should be more expensive.
Duration of Project. You may offer discount rates for long projects that will keep you busy for weeks than for short projects that will have you looking for new clients in a few hours.
In most cases, however, you will find that clients already have a figure in mind about how much the project costs. With experience, you'll learn how to approach each type of client and assignment and then charge accordingly.
If you want to get an idea of how much to charge for a specific project, consult chapter 18 of Becoming a Medical Writer (http://www.becomingamedicalwriter.com) or look at some rates in the Writer's Market (http://www.writersmarket.com). You may also ask fellow medical writers how much they would charge for that particular project.
Diego Pineda, MS, is the author of Becoming a Medical Writer: How to launch a successful career writing about medicine and health. For more tips, jobs, courses, certificates, professional organizations, market salaries, resources for freelance writers, and more about medical writing go to http://www.becomingamedicalwriter.com