One of my goals for 2010 is to stop working so much on the weekends. I was fairly good about that during the first few years of my freelance writing career – when I did work on the weekends, it was generally because I either A) took a day off during the week, or B) just wanted to. Over the last year or so, though, life got in the way and I found myself working almost every weekend.
It stops in 2010.
However, before it stops (I’m such a junkie), I’ve decided to spend the first few weekends of 2010 doing some housekeeping – of the writing career variety – and this past weekend, my task was to tackle my freelance writing rates.
I knew I was going to have to do it sooner or later, and the beginning of the year seemed like a much better time than, say, mid-June. Plus, Deb Ng’s recent blog post about making a profit with your freelance writing business provides some solid information about setting and raising rates and proved to be just the kick in the tail I needed.
Setting Your Freelance Writing Rates
I’m not going to pretend I’m qualified enough to advise you on how to set your freelance writing rates. I’m not. When it comes to setting your writing and editing rates, you have to think about things like flat rates and hourly rates; how to use your hourly rates to come up with projects that require flat rates; your rates and how they line up with your expenses, your cost of living, and your profit goal; how your rates compare to the rates of others in your business; and how it all relates to the ever-tricky “How much are you worth?”
However, I’m not saying there aren’t veteran freelancers out there who are in a position to help you do this. There definitely are. If you’re just getting started and haven’t set your rates yet, or if you have but think it’s time to reevaluate them, check out these resources:
- Anne Wayman of About Freelance Writing has an entire blog category dedicated to Dealing With Money. Also be sure to check out her Setting Freelance Rates series and guest post by John Carpenter, How Much Should I Charge?
- The Money Matters section within the Business Tips for Writers part of the FWJ Network includes posts about setting fees, getting paid, and managing your money.
- Allena Tapia’s How Much Should I Charge looks offers several tips for setting your freelance writing rates and includes resources like FreelanceSwitch’s Hourly Rate Calculator and the Editorial Freelancers Association’s rates page.
- Jennifer Mattern’s Guide to Setting Freelance Writing Fees breaks down the difference between writing goals and salaries, working and billable hours, and how to diversify writing income streams. Also take a look at Mattern’s Setting Freelance Writing Rates: Working Hours vs. Billable Hours which, in addition to explaining the difference between working and billable hours, offers a good explanation about setting hourly rates to achieve your desired yearly salaries.
- Jake Rocheleau’s Freelance Folder piece, Tips And Guidelines For Smarter Price Estimates, discusses evaluating skillsets, clarifying the job details, and hourly rates vs. flat fees.
Increasing Your Freelance Writing Rates
How have your skills sharpened since you started freelance writing and editing? How has your cost of living and expenses increased? Do your current rates allow for the profit you want, or are you just making ends meet? Once you’ve brushed up on the rates you’ve been charging, it’s time to think about whether you need to increase those rates.
The thought of increasing rates usually brings about two reactions from freelancers: Excitement about potentially making more money, which is easily handled, and fear of losing clients, which is not-so-easily handled.
Deb Ng’s article I linked to above about making a profit with your freelance writing business is a good resource for those freelancers who wonder if it’s time for a rate increase but afraid of losing clients; so are financial writer Yolander Prinzel’s Associated Content article How to Increase Your Freelance Writing Rates for Existing Clients and Jennifer Mattern’s Raising Freelance Writing Rates: Demand Isn’t Enough.
Sticking To Your Freelance Writing Rates
You might think that sticking to your freelance writing rates is an easy thing to do. Admittedly, for many freelance writers and editors, it is. However, no matter how new or seasoned you are, situations arise when you might be tempted to lower your rates or offer a discount that’s not exactly conducive to your financial goals or representative of the quality and quantity of your services. A nonprofit or charity approaches you, your friend is starting her own business and needs some help, you’re in a bind and really want to land a gig you just read the advertisement for but don’t usually charge what the advertiser wants to pay – you know the situations.
While pro bono work or discounts can be good for your business (and morale), there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. Too, although there are times when accepting a figure less than what you normally charge is okay overall, constantly doing it doesn’t help you get to where you want to be financially.
Consider these tips to help you stick to your freelance writing rates as well as make adjustments when you see fit:
- Put it in writing. Some freelance writers post their rates on their websites; some don’t. Regardless of where you write (or, type) them, make sure you have them somewhere so you can quickly refer to them when you’re replying to job advertisements or clients requesting rates. (Having your current rates in black and white right in front of you will also help you determine your rates for a project that might be new to you.)
- Predetermine your discounts. While you’re “putting it in writing” is a good time to go ahead and figure out – and also put in writing – any discounts special to nonprofits and charities.
- Consider offering packages. Some services lend themselves to being fit into packages. Blog posts and marketing articles, for example, are services you can group into packages and offer at prices slightly less than if the client ordered that many separately.
Do you have any other tips or resources to share for setting, increasing, and sticking to freelance writing rates?