By Erica Badino, Freelance Writer
I’ve been a writer my whole life. From a very young age, I knew this was what I wanted to do, and I chased that dream relentlessly. Today, I work as a writer for all kinds of different clients.
Being a freelance writer, I’ve always been sensitive about my rates. I never want to charge too much and scare clients off, but I also have bills to pay. How do you quantify your skills? What do you charge for something simple, versus something complicated? I’ll walk you through my personal process so you can make this decision more easily for yourself.
My Simple and Sweet Process for Deciding Rates
Everyone does their rate calculation differently. For the purposes of this post, I sat down with Jennifer Lockman who works at EssayService to compare notes on how we both decide our rates for writing.
The results were actually quite similar. While there’s no single way to decide your rates, here are several tips that came up in our conversation:
1. Look at What You Need to Survive
First thing’s first: You have to make end’s meet. This starts with looking at your budget for each month and deciding what you need to bring in in order to make it. When you’re first starting out, you may not have a ton of disposable income.
Instead, focus on hitting a comfortable stride in your income, so you can feel like you’re in control of your finances and then focus on growing from there.
2. Consider Your Experience
Experience will give you the foundation you need for higher rates. If you have a lot of experience on the subject, then by all means, charge higher rates. I like to start at a more entry-level rate if I’m well-versed in the topic or the structure of the work.
This way, you’re not only setting up yourself for success, but you’re also managing expectations accordingly. If this is your first time writing about Greek history, but you’re charging like a historian would, you’re going to end up disappointing the client.
Instead, charge the rate relative to your experience, and you’ll get positive feedback, along with continued work.
3. Decide: Word/Page Count vs. Flat Rate
There are two common ways I handle writing work: specific counts, or through a flat rate. This is something you’ll have to discuss with your clients, but there are positives and negatives for both.
For example, a word or page count is nice because you’re paid for exactly what was done, but that also means that your time isn’t valued. You’ll get paid for all the words you put down, but if it takes four hours, that’s not going to be accounted for in the total.
On the other hand, a flat rate could account for the time you need to complete the project. Again, though, if the estimated length goes over, you may not get compensated for the extra work because you already agreed on the original amount.
Think hard about this when you’re pitching rates, and consider which one is better for the specific project and the amount of work you’ll need to do in terms of research.
4. Keep Communication Open
It can be daunting trying to establish rates, especially when the client puts the ball in your court and asks what you want. How are you supposed to know that? You don’t know their production budget.
I’ve always found that it’s best to be open and honest with clients. Talking about rates can be a tough conversation, but if you approach it with honesty and respect, they will listen. Say you’re working on a project, and it’s bloomed into something much bigger than originally anticipated. You should feel comfortable with making that known to your clients.
If a project requires a lot more research than you’re usually used to, you can make that known and talk about a one-time rate increase for the extra work. Things like this are healthy for a positive relationship.
Deciding your rates is something every freelancer will have to do numerous times in their career. I’ve shown you my methods, but what are yours? Let us know in the comments!
About Erica Badino
After helping launch several successful blogs, Erica Badino is on a quest to share her knowledge and experiences with bloggers both new and old.