If you are contemplating getting into full time freelancing, one of the many things you would have to consider at the outset is to set your freelance writing rates. If you don’t know the market rates for various kinds of writing, you need to find them out before approaching prospective clients.
And do remember that entering the world of freelance writing is an education in itself because here you will face all kinds of competition: competition from writers as talented as you or more; and those who don’t write well and offer their services at ridiculously low rates. Sadly, these are the writers who swing jobs that you could have, but professionals who are proud of their prowess don’t stoop to work at low rates.
Just so that your prospective clients consider you seriously, do the following:
- Set up your website and put up your rates there
- Don’t waffle on your rates—be consistent
- Ask clients for a retainer fee before you begin the project
It’s natural and normal for you not to know how much to charge if you’re new to this field. But this is your armor, so you need to know this. By making from friends or from the Net, you will get a fair idea of how much you should be charging. If you think this is fair, go with it. But if you think your quality of work demands a higher fee, ask for it with confidence. The trick is to find a client who will agree to pay what you demand.
Factors to consider:
However, before we get into rates, check out these factors which will give you a solid basis to get to that elusive number—your fee.
The current market rate for your kind of writing: The first thing to do is to research the market for rates for your kind of writing. I mean, are you into technical writing or poetry or articles… the list is endless. Ask around what other established freelancers are getting and which companies or websites pay that kind of money. Usually, freelancers won’t come up with real figures, but what you get could give you a range. You could also look at the rates of related freelancers, such as visualizers and use that as a ballpark figure for yourself.
Your training and experience: This is your next parameter for judging a fair fee. If you have considerable experience in a particular line of writing and the necessary training, you could set your rates quite confidently. The more experience you have, the more samples you can show prospective clients and the more you can charge. Also, if you have been servicing one client for a good many years, this too warrants a good freelance pay, especially if you can prove that you have, in so many years, brought value to him or her.
Flawless writing, good research: If you produce well-thought out, well-written articles, you can certainly command a high freelance writing rate. Give all your attention to the quality of your work, only then can you justify your demand for higher rates.
What else can you ask for? It’s not just money that a freelancer can earn for the effort he or she takes to write. In return for a low rate, you can always ask for revenue sharing or earning based on incoming traffic to your site.
The kind of Internet exposure you can give: If you’re a social media buff, this could be one more reason why clients should offer you a better deal. After all, every time you write an article or report, it’s going to make the headlines on LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter. If you have a strong social media presence, leverage this for a better writing fee.
Here are some basic guidelines to set your freelance writing fees and make a success of your career as a freelance writer:
It’s very difficult to quote an exact price for different kinds of writing services, but the truth also is that there are some writers who charge excessively while others charge way too little for the same job.
You could also check rates with those given below so that you have more than a fair idea of what to charge.
Take a look:
- Web-related news articles: $15-$50 per page
- E-books: $15-$25 per page
- Novels and books: $75 per page
- Radio Commentary: $200 per hour
- Magazine articles: About $600-$2000 per article
- Articles for web content (not news): $10-$50 per article based on word count, keywords and other parameters
Ways of setting your rates
Per hour: In your freelancing career, you will come across several times when you will need to charge per hour. If you take this route, a lot depends on how knowledgeable you are in a particular topic on which you are asked to write. If you are, you can write really fast and this could lower your overall earnings than if you wrote slowly. After all, here time is the factor on which you are being paid. On the other hand, you can use this as a guideline to know how much to charge clients in general.
Whether you eventually choose to charge per hour or not, remember that if you are an expert in your field, you can charge anything between $30 and $75 an hour. However, if you are a complete novice in this field, don’t start out by charging $100 an hour. Instead, be realistic and mark down your rates.
Per word: If you charge by the word, decide the figure and stick to it, no matter how big or small your client or project may be.
- How to charge correctly: In the initial months of launching into a freelance writing career, you may inadvertently charge too low. This will naturally go against you in the long run as clients will see you as inexperienced or unskilled for the job at hand.
The rationale behind this is that clients wanting good content are willing to pay well for it, so they will naturally gravitate towards those who charge more than not. They will consider them skilled and professional and worthy of taking up the job and doing it well. So, by undercharging, you’re not just selling yourself short but passing by good opportunities.
Per project: Once you determine an hourly rate, you can estimate your fee per project. As you win projects, you can see how long each one takes to do and the kinds of projects you want to work on.
Kind of project: How you set your fees is also dependent on the kind of writing project you take up. It helps you understand the full scope of work that you’re taking on and the best compensation for the work to be done. For example, perhaps you’ve been asked to write a 500-word press release. Ask yourself how much time and work this involves. If the writing is heavy and extensive and requires a lot of research, escalate your fee accordingly.
Easy or tough deadlines: When you accept a freelance writing project, you must also check what deadlines are involved. If the turnaround time is difficult with work always wanted yesterday, you might not always be able to meet them. So, don’t fall for unnecessary pressure on deadlines. Do work with comfortable deadlines so that you don’t compromise on quality. Also, if you’re not comfortable with the deadline mentioned, ask your client for more time. However, if your client is adamant about his deadlines, either ask for more money or refuse the job.
Research the freelance writing project thoroughly: If you don’t do adequate research on a project, you might not understand its entire scope where, you the writer, are involved. This might end up in your not giving 100% output to your client, who will then decide never to hire your services again. So, spend enough time in a library, online or offline, and research the project before you start work.
Expenses on projects: Often, projects will involve costs such as traveling to a particular destination to gather data or telephone costs for contacting people involved or postage. If you envisage such costs, let your client know so that he can be prepared to bear them. This will ensure that you don’t go out of pocket on any project.
Copyrights: If you client means to hold all copyrights of the work you do for him, make sure he spells it out at the outset. If that is so, he should be paying you more for this for creating original content. See that you agree on copyright terms for contractual work before you start work.
Determine a final freelance fee: As a freelancer, you might never do a 40-hour work week as anyone in the corporate world. So, it’s necessary for that you mark up your rates to take care of the idle hours. Also, never offer a discount to clients as this only cheapens your services, instead offer introductory specials or trial packages where clients can test out your abilities and then agree to pay your fees, though high.
Parameters of setting freelance fees:
Here are some parameters of charging freelance writing fees correctly:
Do you have the appropriate skill set? If you’re approached to write for a particular niche, are you up to it? Do you have the experience and training to do a good job? If yes, you have every reason to charge more than a generalist writer because you can leverage your training and experience. For instance, if you’ve worked for a travel agency, perhaps you have reason enough to choose this domain to write about holiday destinations, etc. Or, if you are a nurse or doctor, you can write about medical conditions and treatments.
Who are your competitors? Your experience and skills notwithstanding, you should spend some time to check out your competition before finalizing your rates. After all, it wouldn’t help if you priced yourself overly or way below, but somewhere between these two extremes.
What do you bring to the table? Now, it’s time to quantify your talents and show your clients what a difference you can make to their product. If you find like minded freelancers with a similar background, use this to develop a ballpark figure of your final freelance rates.
Whom to ask for fair freelance rates:
Here are some organizations you can ask for freelance writing fee-setting:
- American Independent Writers
- Educational Freelancers Association (EFA)
- American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP)
- Association of Independents in Radio (AIR)
- American Translators Association (ATA)
- American Literary Translators Association (ALTA)
- American Medical Writers Association (AMWA)
- American Society of Journalists & Authors (ASJA)
- Angela Hoy’s Writers Weekly
Negotiate your freelance fees:
Besides all the above-mentioned methods of setting your freelance rates, there is one more way of doing this and it is by negotiating your fees. Clients have a low perception of freelancers and their rates and believe that they can be beaten down to giving professionals like you a pittance for bulk work. At such times, instead of living with a battered ego and no work, it’s practical to negotiate for a mid-path where your rates are concerned.
This is a particularly wise step to take if you value a new client and the work it will bring you, and the possibility of leveraging this for better-paid assignments in future. So, be open to negotiating your rates. However, if you feel makes you a very low offer and you feel it’s too low and doesn’t work for you, don’t accept it.
However, instead of that, you could make him an offer of writing a shorter but highly informative article at a slightly higher rate than what he was offering you. If he agrees, you’re still in business and it works out to be cost-effective for you.
Once you learn to work with each other and understand each other well, you might want to get into a long-term understanding with him and ask for a long-term rate which could be a little lower than the rate you advertise for your work. However, you need to be sure that the client will always have work for you before you ask him for a long-term rate.
There are other ways of billing your client. You could choose to bill on an hourly basis, or ask for a flat fee or even on a per word basis. However you might choose to bill your client is up to you, but before you reach that stage, first sign an agreement with your client regarding your billing procedure.
To reach a realistic figure of your freelance rates, first estimate how long it will take you to finish. This includes everything—from researching, conducting interviews (if you must) to actually writing and editing your work. You could also speak to fellow writers for the going rates and use their figures to start with. Now, consider how doing this project will be advantageous to you. Will it fetch you the desired visibility, or will it give you good exposure? Does it introduce you to a new kind of writing that everyone wants? Will the money you earn from this help pay big bills?
Now, distance yourself from the project by telling your prospective client that you could perhaps work on it for $___ if he approves. This gives him a little room to negotiate rates with you and make you a counteroffer, but you could lose the project too. So, this is a gamble which you must expect to lose. Despite this, if you get it, that’s great.
Now, consider the offer he makes and see if it’s worth your while or not. If yes, you’re in business, or else you need to spend some more time scouting for other projects.
Tips for successful negotiation:
#1: Impress on the client the value of your writing services, not their cost: Your client will be interested to know what a difference you can make and how you are different from any other freelance writer. So, you need to justify the cost of your writing services to him or he might think that you are being unnecessarily expensive.
#2: Project your rates as an investment for the client, not an expense: Put your rates across to your client in such a way that it looks like he’s investing in you rather than paying your fees. Stress on your expertise, the kind of work you’ve done in the past and what you can deliver now and mention a couple of way by which you can help to improve his business. This means that you strongly believe in yourself and your capabilities and skills. If you are truly confident, it will show through and you can negotiate for a good fee successfully.
#3: Work at reduced rates for a short time: If at the start of your freelance career, you’re forced to accept low rates, don’t do this meekly. Stand your ground by making a tradeoff with your client. Give your client a deadline for accepting the rates that he offers. Tell him that once that period is over (say, two or three months), you will be ready to renegotiate rates with him.
By doing this, you protect yourself from being seen as a low-paid writer, which will be very difficult for you to shake off if you want to move forward in your career. Besides, it prevents the client from exploiting you at the same low rates forever.
#4: Remember, your client is not your boss but your peer: Often, freelancers allow the client to assume a higher position while they take orders from them. In reality, however, it shouldn’t be like this as it is a harmonious relationship where both need each other. You are both at different ends of a business spectrum, so when you negotiate, it’s not just over prices but also to see how well you suit each other. Once he sees you as a consultant, you can negotiate with confidence.
Overall, it needs courage and confidence to negotiate prices with clients. For this, you need to do a lot of preparation and be honest with your clients about your rates. With time and practice, you can be a good negotiator.
Filed Under: Freelance Writing Insights
About the Author: Hi! This is Amit Bhagat.(Founder of Digital Creative Network). I am the voice behind this Blog. I am a full-time freelance writer, a successful affiliate, and a mentor [a full-time Entrepreneur]. I love writing. When I am not writing for clients, I am writing for my blog or eBook or promoting my affiliate business. I love sharing my experiences and helping others to make money online. Follow me on Twitter, Facebook., LinkedIn, Google+