Are Freelance Writing Rates in the Philippines Affordable?

Freelance Writing Rates in the Philippines Are Affordable

Freelance writing rates in the Philippines are affordable. One way to determine that is by comparing GDP per capita. In essence, this measure is an indicator of the standard of living. Another way is to look at the minimum wage.

GPD per Capita and Minimum Wage of Top Freelancer Hiring Countries

Country

GDP per Capita (in US dollars)

Minimum Wage per Hour (in US dollars)

1. United States

$63,543.60

$7.25

2. Australia

$51,812.20

$14.91

3. United Kingdom

$40,284.60

$12.74

4. Canada

$43,258.20

$11.43

5. United Arab Emirates

$43,103.30

6. Singapore

$59,797.80

7. Israel

$43,610.50

$9.33

8. Germany

$46,208.40

$10.99

9. Netherlands

$52,397.10

$11.52

10. New Zealand

$41,477.90

$14.10

Notes:

  • Currency conversion rates used in the table and throughout this article are accurate as of 12 Nov. 2021.
  • The United Arab Emirates and Singapore do not have a minimum wage.
  • In the United States, the federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour but varies at the state level. Washington, for instance, has a minimum wage of $15.20 per hour.

The GDP per capita of the Philippines is US$3,298.80. Under the labor code, the daily minimum wage of Filipinos converts to roughly $1.35 per hour.

Are you an employer from a country with a higher standard of living? If yes, you can hire Filipino content writers without breaking the bank.

Filipino Freelance Writing Rates

As is the case in top freelancer markets, there are no standard rates for freelancing. One way to measure prevailing market rates is to use crowdsourced data.

Annual Salary of Freelance Writers in the Philippines (in USD based on currency exchange rate on November 21, 2021)

Low

Median

High

Salary Expert

6,829.35

9,325.28

11,750.35

Salary Explorer

4,088.01

8,877.40

14,107.65

Talent

5,771.31

7,815.32

9,618.85

Note that the figures cited are only indicators. One reason is that the sample sizes are too small. Talent, for instance, only had 43 respondents out of tens of thousands of Filipino freelance writers. Also, the sources did not categorize the type of content. An example is copywriting, which costs more than blog posts.

How affordable are Filipino freelance writers compared to U.S. writers?

Annual Salary of Freelance Writers in the United States (in USD)

Low

Median

High

Salary Expert

42,000

47,900

52,140

Salary Explorer

68,250

71,788

88,600

Talent

89,710

134,000

142,350

Thus far, the highest figure cited in the Philippines is $14,108. It is not even 10% of $142,350 in the United States.

Do not get carried away, though, because there are limitations to crowdsourced data. I, for one, earn more per year than the highest amount indicated in the Philippines.

How Much Should Filipinos Earn to Live a Simple Life?

In 2015, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) published the results of a nationwide survey on the aspirations, values, and principles of Filipinos.

Ambisyon Natin 2040

An overwhelming 79.2% of Filipinos aspire to a “simple and comfortable” life. For that to happen, a family of four needs a gross monthly income of P120,000 ($2,409.40). Each parent, therefore, needs to earn P60,000 ($1,204.70).

A simple life, in this case, means they can:

  • Own a medium-sized home
  • Own one car
  • Send two children to college
  • Make occasional trips to a local destination
  • Have enough money for daily needs

Such aspiration, however, is far from reality. At present, the minimum wage in the National Capital Region (NCR) is P537 ($10.78) per day. Hence, the monthly income amounts to only P12,888 ($258.77) based on six working days a week.

A realistic goal for most Filipinos is to aspire for a decent life. In this case, the NEDA states that a family of five needs P42,000 ($843.29) a month to survive (Sy et al.). For this reason, I contend that entry-level freelance writers need to earn at least $850 per month. Of course, they have to match that rate with competent skills.

How Much Should Freelance Writers Earn in the Philippines?

Proponents of hiring Philippine remote workers and freelancers profess one thing. Foreign clients can hire talented and skilled Filipinos at low salary rates. These advocates are, of course, the BPO companies and freelancer platforms.

Why Foreigners Outsource to the Philippines

Often, the figure they site ranges from $200 to $500 for a full-time position. They also contend that those rates are already suitable for Filipinos, considering the minimum wage is under $260 per month. One point often overlooked is that these rates do not distinguish between less privileged people and those who attended and graduated from colleges and universities.

On freelancer platforms, many clients offer $10 per 1,000-word article ($0.01 per word) on freelancer platforms. Usually, they are content mills and SEO agencies. Many of them are also freelancers who are “subcontracting” content writing.

These offers are nonsense and based on misleading or missing contexts. Furthermore, it gives a false impression that content writers are cheap.

The more the emphasis on how cheap Filipino remote workers are, the closer it is to borderline insult to dignity.

Anyone, not only Filipinos, who “deserve” low rates cannot write authoritative articles. At best, they are babies who are learning how to write.

As I opined, the least amount of money Filipino writers should make is $850 per month. But the nature of freelancing is that freelancers get paid by the hour or article.

So, how much should Filipino freelance writers earn per hour or article?

What Is the Hourly Rate of Filipino Freelance Writers?

Calculating how much to pay freelance writers is best done by starting from how much they need to earn. After determining the gross monthly income, it is easy to calculate hourly rates.

Average Time Spent to Write an Article

According to Orbit Media, today’s average length of blog posts is 1,416 words. Bloggers, meanwhile, spend an average of 4 hours and 1 minute to write a post (Crestodina). With these figures as the basis, bloggers spend almost three hours writing 1,000 words.

But blogging is not the same as content writing.

For context, here are my thoughts on Orbit Media’s survey.

  • Orbit Media’s 8th annual blogging survey had 1,067 participating bloggers. It is unlikely that many of them worked as freelance writers too. Even so, they responded in their capacity as bloggers.
  • There are no classifications on the type of bloggers and topics. Therefore, a fair assumption is that most of them published personal experiences. Among the most common niches are lifestyle, travel, and food.
  • The bloggers did not account for the time it took to gain experience. An example would be travel bloggers, many of whom do not consider the time and money used to visit a destination.

Freelance writers, for sure, need more time writing an article than typical bloggers. That is because they do not have first-hand experience with the assigned topics in most cases.

Instead of three hours, it is reasonable to increase the time to four hours per thousand words. Four hours is also consistent with most of the hundreds of freelancers I worked with before.

Calculating Freelance Writer Rate per Hour and Word

For simplicity, these are the variables used in calculating the hourly rate.

  • Length of article: 1,000 words
  • Time: 4 hours
  • Monthly income: $850
  • Work hours: 160 hours per month (8 hours per day, five days a week)

Based on $850 per month, it is easy to determine the hourly rate.

  • $850 / 160 hours = $5.31 per hour

Using the hourly rate, it is possible to determine the cost of a 1,000-word article.

  • $5.31 per hour x 4 hours per article = $21.24 per thousand words

After determining the cost of an article with a fixed length, calculating the rate per word is easy.

  • $21.24 per article / 1000 words = $0.02124 per word

$21.24 per thousand words is not far off from the second most typical offer on freelancer markets – $20. Instead of rounding down to $20, though, it is better to increase.

Clients should not disregard the deductions on payments, such as:

  • Freelancer markets take a cut. Upwork, for example, takes a hefty 20% commission.
  • Conversion rates used by payment processors are usually unfavorable.
  • Banks may charge fees, which further reduce the net income of freelancers.

Why should you pay a little more?

Already, finding and hiring talented freelance writers is not easy. But keeping them is even more challenging. One way to maintain competent freelancers is to compensate them based on their merits.

A Fair Rate for Filipino Freelance Writing

Not having standards or regulations is a disadvantage for Filipino freelancers. Far too often, clients base service rates on the country’s minimum wage.

What is a fair rate for freelance writers?

Pay enough so that freelancers can live with dignity. As competence level increases, match it with higher rates.

Recommended Filipino Freelance Writing Rates Starting Points

Level

Rate per Word

Rate per 1,000-word Article

Novice

$0.0200 to $0.02499

$20 to $24.99

Intermediate

$0.0250 to $0.04999

$25 to $49.99

Advanced

$0.0500 to $0.07499

$50 to $74.99

Professional

$0.0750 to $0.09999

$75 to $99.99

Expert

$1.0000 or more

$100 or more

Notes:

  • Novice refers to freelancers who can write a decent article with minimal errors.
  • The rates quoted in the table serve as recommended starting points, not standard guidelines.
  • Professional refers to licensed professionals who write about topics related to their profession.
  • Expert refers to professionals who are industry leaders or at least exert a degree of influence.

The Philippines has a track record of providing outstanding talents. Sadly, many talented freelancers do not receive fair compensation. As a result, most of them leave for the greener pasture, sooner or later.

In my experience, keeping freelancers is one of the most challenging aspects. For me, it is even more perplexing than finding and developing talents.

It is with this understanding that I am proposing better rates than advertised.

Working condition, for sure, is an essential factor all employees and freelancers consider. But feeling gratified is intrinsic to human nature.

One way to show appreciation is to respect the dignity of Filipino freelancers. Do not limit their income potential because of the low standard of living in the Philippines. As long as they deliver superior materials, pay them what they deserve.

Sources and Further Reading

AmBisyon Natin 2040.National Economic and Development Authority. Accessed 14 Nov. 2021.

Content Writer Average Salary in Philippines 2021.Salary Explorer. Accessed 14 Nov. 2021.

Content Writer Salary in Philippines.Talent. Accessed 14 Nov. 2021.

Crestodina, Andy. “How Has Blogging Changed? 5 Years of Blogging Statistics, Data and Trends.” Orbit Media Studios, 15 Oct. 2019. Accessed 14 Nov. 2021.

Freelance Writer Salary.ZipRecruiter. Accessed 14 Nov. 2021.

Freelance Writer Salary Philippines.SalaryExpert, ERI Economic Research Institute. Accessed 14 Nov. 2021.

Sy, Marvin, et al. “NEDA: Family of 5 Needs P42,000 a Month to Survive.PhilStar, 8 June 2018. Accessed 14 Nov. 2021.

ROBERT LEE

I write articles that people actually read and Google loves.

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