How Should You Charge for Freelance Editing?

Deciding how to charge for editing can be difficult. Here are some of the issues involved.

Occasionally, I am asked to edit something. When I first started out as a freelancer, I took editing jobs because I had to. Now, though, I try to avoid editing jobs. Because it’s not something I’m overly fond of. But, if I really like you, I can be induced to edit something for you.

One of the reasons I don’t like taking editing jobs is because it’s such a pain to figure out how to charge. Anytime you have to set rates as a freelancer, it requires thought. However, it just seems like setting rates for editing is much more fraught with difficulty. When you write, it’s easy to say, “This is how much I charge for a blog post. This is how much I charge for creating a press release. This is what web content will cost you.”

Editing is a different animal altogether. But, as you consider your rates, here are some things to keep in mind:

What Type of Editing Are You Doing?

The first task is to identify what type of editing you are doing. Different types of editing come with different challenges and difficulties. Some types of editing are more involved than others. There are three main types of editing:

  • Proofreading: This is the easiest type of editing. Proofreading is about getting rid of the cosmetic errors. It is usually the last step in the writing/editing process. It’s not meant to be comprehensive; when you are proofreading, you shouldn’t be re-working text, or re-arranging content. Proofreading is about doing a last run-through to catch surface problems with the content.
  • Copy editing: Copy editing is about improving style, formatting, and accuracy. Copy editing is about making sure there aren’t inconsistencies, and that the style flows well — in addition to being grammatically correct. There are different levels of copy editing: light, medium, and heavy. Light copy editing might consist of double-checking accuracy and taking care of most grammatical issues. Medium copy editing includes heavier lifting, such as correcting flow and re-working some of the text. With heavy copy editing, the editor might re-structure some paragraphs, or heavily correct style, flow, and grammar.
  • Content editing: When you are involved in content editing, the work is much more intensive. You might need to add things that were left out, or re-write sections of content. This takes copy editing to the next level, and can include some level of content creation along with making corrections.

Your first job is to figure out which type of editing will be done. The harder the work, the more you should charge.

Hourly? Or Per-Page?

Once you figure out what type of work you will be doing, you need to figure out how you will charge. If you charge hourly, often the difficulty takes care of itself. After all, the more intense your efforts, the longer it will take, and the more the job will pay. A beginning editor can expect to charge right around $20 an hour. However, an experienced content editor can charge more, as much as $50 to $85 an hour. Even as a proofreader, after you have established yourself, you can charge $25 – $35 an hour.

Another option is to charge by the page. (It’s possible to charge by the word, but that can get tricky in some cases, especially if you have to add quite a bit.) Many editors like to charge by the page. When charging by the page, the type of editing matters. According to The Writer’s Market, the average for proofreading is $3 per page, for copy editing $4 per page, and for content editing you can expect to charge around $7.50 per page.

I have charged both hourly, and per-page, and don’t really have a preference. When I’m going through and editing old posts that a blogger might have, I often charge by the hour. When I have a manuscript, though, I usually charge by the page. In the end, though, it’s about how much experience you have, and how much work you are putting in.

Image source: The Land via Wikimedia Commons

77 Responses to How Should You Charge for Freelance Editing?

  1. I am finding that figuring out how much to charge for self-employment is among the most difficult parts of the whole process. Being paid for your time and not driving away customers is difficult, since the business I am starting is in tax preparation. The free programs are generally okay, but I find they each seem to have their quirks. The large franchises charge a premium based on their overhead and franchise costs. The do-it-yourself programs are nice, but if the user has a concept error, their only assistance is someone on the other end of a phone, reading from a playbook.

    • Trying to find that balance between what you think you’re worth, and what others think you’re worth, is definitely hard. And I can see where it would be hard with tax prep, since there are so many cheap programs. But I’m right there with you. I have an accountant that I’ve used for years do my taxes. It’s worth the money to get that personal service.

  2. This was a very timely post for me! Question, how are you providing your editing remarks to your clients. I use track changes and comments in word to mark up their original Word doc…and I also provide a “clean edit” version so they can read how it flows without being interrupted by the mark-ups. My rates are a good bit higher – especially for content editing – than what you noted. It can take 1/4 – 1/2 hour to content edit a page depending on the condition of the original draft so $7.50 would be a tad too low. Plus there’s the time for collaborating with the author…

    • I agree that it’s hard to figure out what to charge. I think I’d be more inclined to do it per-hour, instead of per-page. Like you, I thought the $7.50 per page sounded a little low for content editing, but that’s what I could find on a couple of different sites. Like you, I use track changes, plus a clean one, when track changes is possible.

  3. Hi Miranda,
    I found your article quite helpful. If I could impose, I thought I’d ask for your opinion on a delicate issue, which freelancers might face from time to time.

    How do you handle requests for editing a large project for charitable purposes. In this case, one of my wife’s colleagues is writing a book about his experiences with leukemia. He says it will be partly a fundraiser for The Leukemia Society as well as for his own future medical expenses. He’s planning on 85K words and has about 60K completed.

    It seems he needs something between proofreading and content editing. I don’t have to tell you how much work this will be. I’m going to do it for him pro bono, but in general, how would you handle such requests? There is a reality that one is operating a business and only has so much time.



    • If I believe in the cause, I’m happy to help out, gratis. But I do warn that it might be slower going, since I have to fit it around the paid work. And, there are times that, just as when you have to say no, you need to pass. Really it comes down to what you can handle, and what you have time for. And for a large project like that, I would be up front about it taking a little bit longer. You want to help out, but you also need to earn a living.

        • I’ve been told on this topic, first to quote my usual price, but then to say, “But for you I’ll do it for free.”
          This give you the acknowledgement of your worth, and then allows you to make such a gift. Everyone knows then what is truly going on. Makes everyone act differently re: gratitude, etc.
          Also there is the matter of a receipt, and tax purposes. The quote is needed.

  4. Thank you. I’ve done a lot of editing as a “favor” in my writer’s group, but am now being asked outside of that group and I didn’t have a clue.
    I believe I’ll charge by the single space page.

  5. This might be a silly question, but if I’m providing light copy editing and proofreading together, is the rate combined? (Ex. if a going rate for proofreading is $3/hr and light copy editing $4/hr – would you combine both under the $4 rate?).

    Thank you for your website. It is very user friendly and informative!

  6. If you think a company may want to use you on a regular basis, what would you think about charging a kind of retainer fee, i.e., per month or per issue if a publication.

  7. Hi Miranda

    Enjoyed your article but my question is what does one charge for website proofing/ copy editing. Like you, I’m more of an article writer and have my rates I use. However, I have no idea what to charge for this kind of project. $20.00 an hour sounds fair to me because there are several pages/ links to go over. Any input you have about this type project would be helpful.


    • Hi Doug, it really depends on what kind of editing you are doing. $20 is probably good for simple proofing, but if you are more experienced, you might want to charge $25 to $30 per hour. More in-depth editing, where you are line-editing, and you are dealing with a lot of links, is probably something more int eh $40 to $50 range. If you are doing a lot with links, and cleaning it up and doing SEO, you might want to charge around $60 or $70 per hour. I know really good editors who charge $100 to $120 an hour, but that might not be feasible in your situation.

      The real issue, though, is whether or not that $20 per hour is worth giving up writing gigs to do the editing. When I work out my hourly rate, it’s not worth it for me to do editing when I could be writing something instead. The problem with editing, and doing it on an hourly basis, is that you’ll only make that much each hour, and you might be able to do something more profitable. I stopped taking editing jobs because no matter how much I make hourly for editing, my time is more profitably spent writing an article or two.

  8. You know, if it wasn’t for websites like yours, I really doubt I ever be able to figuire all of this stuff out. This has been very helpful as I am considering being a editor and offering my services to people. There’s a lot to learn about all this and its very helpful to have people like you writing about all this. Now I am wondering if I offer to all three types of editing should I still charge only 20 dollars a hour for each?

    • If you charge by the hour, you should charge differently based on the type of editing. The more in-depth it is, the more you should charge. It doesn’t need to be a lot more, but it could be a little more.

  9. My question is about quoting hourly rates in general–that is, before a manuscript has been seen. I’m just getting started in freelancing editing skills developed in Corporation Land. I tend to evaluate any piece from the copy editing point of view with a strong impulse toward content editing. And, my natural inclination is to work dirt cheap. Thanks to your discussion here, I see that’s not necessary (and certainly not desirable on my part). What method might I propose up front to assure a potential client that the time I would charge reflects actual time spent on various types of editing? What do you (or other lancers) suggest?

    • Normally I ask to see the manuscript before I quote a price, and I make sure that the client understands what type of editing they want. That allows me to make a more accurate quote during the times I actually agree to edit something.

  10. Very informative – however I find the per page rate, even at $7.50 per page, incredibly low; and the hourly rate only works if you’re going to be able to calibrate realistically how many hours you’re going to take – most of the authors I deal with are small, self publishing ones. They are concerned about freelancers padding the hours to make the rate higher. I thought a combination of $8.50 to $10.00 per page, plus an additional collaboration rate of $30 to $50 an hour with the author, would be a pretty decent rate. Then you could get an initial deposit of 50% on the current number of pages, and work out the balance upon the finalized copy, plus time spent consulting with the author before, during and after the completion. It would be much better balanced and worth the time and effort. What do you think?

    • I really love your ideas, Gloria Dulan-Wilson!! I am going to write this down and use it to develop my price structure! I just received my first request for book editing in the non-ficton category and had no clue how to structure my pricing to come up with a fair quote for both me and the client. By charging different rates for the editing and consultation, and basing the original quote on the initial page count or word count, it seems more fair to both parties. Also, charging a greater fee for the consultation portion brands the writer/editor as more professional in the value of their time and effort.

    • Great response! This is almost the route I plan on taking. I know some clients may be skeptical about the per hour charge and the actual bill. If the that time was actually used editing and proofreading. Your approach is balanced!

  11. Hi Miranda. I’m grateful to have come upon your site. I’m retired and having my own home-based typing service – doing what I’ve done for the past 40 years – is my ultimate goal; retired at the age of 54 after 30 years of government service. I have always put my skills to work outside of my employment; especially as a single parent. I’ve typed book chapters, proofread and edited religious books, dictaphone transcription, resumes, wills, forms, startup business cards and forms, contracts, basic copy editing, online research and typing – to name a few – LOL!

    Can you give me some pointers on putting it all together to run a home-based typing service? Where do I advertise – I live in Miami, Florida. Your expertise would be greatly appreciated. It appears, from the comments of others on your site, that I’ve been charging way too little for a long time.

    • I suggest looking online for virtual assistant jobs, and being active online. It helps to have an online presence. A blog, and a LinkedIn account are good places to start. People are always looking online for that type of help.

  12. I am starting my firt official Freelance editing job as something for fun. I am new at this and the financial part ( in the sense of rates) scares me and I want to be reasonable since I am doing this for a friend. I enjoy all parts of writing including editing for myself and yes- even for others. So I am more comfortable with your rate $7.50 per page for friends because I am editing a novel right now as we speak and this is a book not meant to be on the caleber of Harry Potter, Twilight series, The Hunger Games series, or other popular books that have turned into movies and T.V series. Now if that was the case and my friend was looking for her novel to be main stream then yes I would see the rates as Gloria would. Please give me advice and comments on how to make sure my conpensation is subtantial and she is not left with nothing.

    • Doing work for friends is always tricky. I’d stick with something lower, since she is your friend and you hoping to do it for fun. Plus, maybe offering a discount could mean a free copy of the book when it’s published!

    • Did you mean “first” instead of “firt,” “caliber” instead of “caleber,” “mainstream” instead of “main stream,” “compensation,” instead of “conpensation,” “substantial” instead of “Subtantial”? — I need to hire someone to edit my papers as English is not my first language, but I’m not willing to pay $7.50 to anyone with glaring copy editing errors.

      • Ouch, Star! This is a great site. It is always advisable to have an editor. All writers make mistakes in their own copy. Hence the editors! I encourage you to hire an excellent professional like Miranda.
        And, as she points out, she refers to averages when she quotes $7.50.
        Freelancers appreciate straight forward clients, but no one wants to work with nastiness.
        Thank you, Miranda, for a stellar site, with great information!

      • Hi Star,

        I’m an English Language teacher and do paid editing and writing work on the side. 20 years of teaching, along with a Masters degree in English from the UK, have given me immense experience. Picking out grammatical goof-ups, punctuation problems, skewed sentence structure and poor paragraphing are second nature to me. Let me know if you want help with your papers.

      • I’m glad you pointed that out. Yes, we all make mistakes. However, this person had multiple mistakes and obviously didn’t even proofread her own work.

  13. I was asked earlier today by a coworker to “proofread” her blog just before she sends it out and, she wants to know how much I will charge her.
    This is new to me, to charge that is. I’ve recently did some proofreading, copy editing and content editing for, her free of charge. As a beginner, how do I rate blogs? Can you please help me figure this out? thanks, Susan

    • Hi Susan, I’d rate them the same as you rate other types of proofing and editing. It’s really a marketing move, so I’d charge about what you’d charge for these services in general. You could provide a discount to friends and family, though.

  14. I just wanted to drop by and say that this article is helping me immensely in creating a website for my freelance nonfiction editing services! I appreciate freelancers like you who provide this type of information.

  15. Hi,

    I’m glad I came across your site. I was just approached with eduting a 70 page book project. I’ve never edited a book.before but I have a professional background in editing and writing for national print publications and digital magazines. I’m thinking $40 an hour but don’t want to overcharge. I also need to find out what type of editing is involved. What are your thoughts on book projects?

    • When editing book projects I usually charge what I would for most others, by the page. Like you said, it depends on the type of editing you will be doing. Additionally, with book editing, you might need to charge a little more if they expect you to watch for plot points and continuity (depending on the type of book).

  16. I am working for friends but as a business arrangement (they have a lot of papers to be edited almost weekly and I do this is in addition to my full time+ professional job, so it’s not for fun). I read elsewhere that $7/page was a low price so I thought that would be fair for friends. I realized, however, that their papers are all double-spaced, so now I feel like I’m charging too much. I’m performing heavy copy editing and content editing, which sometimes includes research, re-writing, and doing a couple pages of references from publications they either provide or I look up. The collaboration time also is substantial as they like to be present during a big part of the process (sometimes we talk through ideas, etc. for several hours). Am I really charging too much? They seemed fine with paying me this amount (in fact, one friend offered more initially). I was thinking of offering them a lower rate in the future if they can simply send me their papers and allow me to work more independently without the face-to-face time. My rationale would be that I have a pretty good understanding of what they want at this point and could save time for both parties by communicating via email or text when necessary.

    • Honestly, if your friends are happy with the arrangement, there’s no need to change things up. Part of deciding what is “too much” is when clients (or friends) balk. If no one’s balking, everyone wins.

  17. I have written poetry and short stories since my teen years but have done nothing professionally. I am wondering if it is important for a writer or editor to know the difference between fiction and nonfiction?

  18. What do you consider experience? I have 35 years of editing experience as an English teacher. In what ways can this count towards being experienced? Thank-you.

  19. This is really helpful information, Miranda! Thank you for laying this out with specificity AND room for variations for experience, etc. Have a good week!

  20. Also, if you have a prospective client who needs proofreading. An editor has already edited the document. Should the client provide a style sheet from his editor? If none is available, should I charge extra for creating my own? I’d need to create one to follow so I remember what styles have been done. This is a 250 page book.

    • You can ask for a stylesheet from the editor so that you understand what you are doing. Up to you whether or not you want to charge extra for creating the style sheet. If you think it will take very long time, Then maybe you should charge. But if it’s something that only takes a few minutes, you might not need to.

  21. How do I start getting paid for editing/reviewing books? I have always been a reader and I review on a site that I track what I’ve read. Here lately, I’ve gotten an overwhelming amount of authors wanting me to edit/review their material. I need to turn this into a stream of income. Can you help me get started?

    • If people are asking you to edit their stuff, start charging them. When someone asks you to edit something, say “I would love to this is my rate.” You can also look on job boards for people who want editors.

  22. Hi Miranda,
    I’m new to your site. It’s very interesting. I have been thinking about doing some proofreading for court reporters. I think I would prefer to charge by the page. Do you think the rates would be the same as other proofreaders? I don’t have any formal training. I usually proofread for friends, relatives, and coworkers right now. I really enjoy it. I was planning on getting a medical dictionary and The Gregg Reference Manual to start. I also found a good online legal dictionary I can use.

  23. I was recently hired to copy edit a manuscript. I generally charge by the page and told writer my rate. She told me she had 225 pages. We agreed and she sent me the manuscript—a single, 225 page paragraph. I spent equal amounts of time cursing my stupidity at not previewing the work before taking the job, and laughing at myself. I decided that I will no longer charge by the page. You live and learn.

  24. A potential client and friend sent me a manuscript to review for editing, proofreading and anything else that needs to be corrected as a trial run. Should I charge for this? It’s 136 pages. Is this customary? I don’t mind at all since I am a “newly professional.” But I’d like to start things off on the right foot and couldn’t say with certainty this won’t take more time than originally thought. Your insight (and others’) would be greatly appreciated.

    • If you want to help your friend, I suggest charging a small amount. The time you spend working on this manuscript means that you won’t have time to do other paying work, so a little compensation isn’t a bad thing.

  25. I love this. I was asked to simply proofread a book and I didn’t think it fair to charge as much as my copy editing rate. I don’t normally even do copy editing either (I do content writing and management for digital media with monthly fees for regular clients). I thought, well, I’d like to charge $25 to make this fair for both of us. And, yeah, the prospect is someone I really like!

  26. I’m so glad I found this site as I have been asked how much I would charge to proofread by a brand new author. I’m not working so I have been known to read all day long. Depending on the size of the novel it could be 2 or 3 books per day. I often read an ARC with the promise for an honest review. I do take the time to notify the author of errors if I find any. However I am not trained so I’m wondering if $20.00/hour or $3.00/page if a fair price? And is there a way of determining which price is more favorable? Is it based on content? Length of story? If I could parlay my love of reading into a job what a wonderful world this would be!

  27. Editing rates can vary widely based on years of experience, areas of expertise, and most of all LOCATION (i.e., cost of living). I have over 30 years of professional experience; I specialize in environmental, engineering, geoscience, health & safety, and other technical documents; and I’m located in the San Francisco Bay Area. My rates as of 2016 range from $90 to $120 an hour.

  28. This article is very helpful. Thank you for writing it. My question is, how do you accept payment for jobs? Do you have a credit card service service set up, or do you use PayPal? Do you require payment upfront? How do you deal with clients who aren’t happy with your work (not with the grammatical corrections–those can’t be argued–but with the more subjective types of input)? Do you refund them at all?

    Sorry if these questions are weird or too invasive. I’m brand new to this.

    • I like PayPal. PayPal can accept credit cards. However, you have to deal with fees. Many designers offer a set number of revisions. You have to ask a lot of questions up front if you want to get an idea of what they want. I like to get paid half up front for large, one-time projects and half at the end.

  29. Thanks for the helpful information, Miranda. I am kick-starting my editing career and am looking into helping my future clients with resumes. In the beginning of your editing career, what did you charge for editing and/or helping to construct resumes and cover letters?

    Thanks again!

    • I started by charging about $15 an hour, but it feels low to me now. Other people I know, though, have a flat-fee structure for that kind of service work. Resume and cover letters can have fees of anywhere between $30 and $300, depending on how much needs to be done. I don’t do much in terms of resumes and cover letters, though.

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