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How much should I be charging? - writing.

babzward
Community Guru
Barbara W Member Since: Sep 10, 2015
1 of 15

I don't want to overcharge my clients, but I also know that I have been undervaluing myself. I currently do not have plans to adjust my rate on current clients, because that would be rude (and possibly also deemed a breach of contract?) - but I do have one contract that is in a "probationary period" with the discussion for a raise being a very real possibility in the next few weeks - as stated by the client herself, and I want to ensure that future contracts are paying a price worth the quality that I am putting forth.

 

  • I have been writing, professionally, for about two months - but writing for myself since I was in junior high. During the past two months, I don't think I've grown too much in terms of style and skill, as it is such a short time, but the low rates that I initially offered my clients (that I thought were necessary to get my foot in the door) provided me with a great deal of experience. I give my "cheap" clients the same quality I give my "more fairly priced" clients - as client satisfaction is of the utmost importance to me, and I feel that it will help me greatly in my future endeavors.
  • I have what I consider to be a fair amount of work in my portfolio, and I seek to add more. In a way, it's a bit of my stipulation to my clients - "I work for this price for you, and in exchange I seek permission to use these items as portfolio pieces to ensure higher paying clients in the future." So far only my lowest-paying client has explicitly agreed to this, although I have also posted links to the work I have done for clients that received credit. This way they visibly retain all copyrights, and I have accurate, up-to-date work for my portfolio.
  • My favorite client at the moment is the one that pays $6 an hour currently and has discussed the possibility for a raise in the future. It is also my only client with an hourly rate as opposed to a per-word rate, but I would like to keep this arrangement in a similar manner once I request the rate change, after the completion of the initial probationary period. (That meaning, I would love advice on both a per-hour rate and a per-100-words rate.)
  • I am currently living at home and don't have a tremendous amount of financial strain, but I understand that raising my rates will allow me to save for the future and get back out of my mom's house. This is important to me.

I understand that it can be time-consuming to ascertain an appropriate word-price, and I greatly appreciate any input that can be given to me in this regard. I will of course weigh all the advice in order to come up with a "from here on out" rate that more accurately reflects my skills, my experience, and my needs.

 

Thank you for the help!

- Barbara Herrera -
stencil_media
Community Guru
Scott E Member Since: Jul 26, 2015
2 of 15

It's my opinion that if somebody discusses the possibility of a raise in the future, then more often than not, you're never going to get that raise. The fact they feel the need to entice you with a raise means they know they're not paying a very good rate at the moment, but want to give you something to entice you to continue working with them. This could be a tomorrow that never comes kind of situation. 

 

However, I obviously hope that I'm wrong and this is one of the few instances where they do actually mean that they are intending to give you a raise in the not too distant future. 

 

 

"Welcome, humans. I'm ready for you!"
- Box, Logan's Run (1976)
researchediting
Community Guru
Douglas Michael M Member Since: May 22, 2015
3 of 15

Barbara,

 

By timing yourself as you write and using the data provided by the Editorial Freelancers Association rate survey, you can figure out a per-word rate.

 

I'm getting a low rate (19¢/word) for a steady gig that has some marketing value for me. I just bid 50¢ a word in an interview here, which on reflection may have been a little high. My posted hourly rate is based on medical wrting at 50¢ - $1/word.

 

My major learning from the EFA chart is that while I can do the various levels of editing at an industry pace, I'm a painfully slow writer. I tend to bid high to keep some distance between my hourly return and minimum wage.

 

Best,

Michael

 

p.s. Of course, most pave-the-internet-with-crap "publishers" don't pay such rates. If you aspire to them, you need to find clients willing to pay them.

fluentinspanish
Community Leader
Mikila S Member Since: Sep 12, 2015
4 of 15

Barbara, just as you said, factor in your skills, experience and needs and set your price! If your price is 22.22 or 35 or 45.50 then set it. I feel that you come across as too apologetic for setting your rate; like you give too many **edited for Community Guidelines** about trying to please everyone but yourself. Do what you have to do. I get that you want to be strategic in your approach and so, you are careful with how you go about you pricing, but  you need to set your rate and own it.

 

Signed,

A fellow newbie freelancer Smiley Happy

fergusm1970
Community Guru
Fergus M Member Since: May 23, 2015
5 of 15

Based on what I've seen of your writing here I'd suggest you tell your $6 an hour client to sling his hook. You should be looking at a bare minimum of $25 an hour or 3 cents a word, and even that isn't great.

If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.― George Orwell
babzward
Community Guru
Barbara W Member Since: Sep 10, 2015
6 of 15

@fergus M wrote:

Based on what I've seen of your writing here I'd suggest you tell your $6 an hour client to sling his hook. You should be looking at a bare minimum of $25 an hour or 3 cents a word, and even that isn't great.


This is a helpful number for me - although surprising since I got excited about 2c a word from my last finished contract, ha. I guess that shows me I still have so much to learn here. I will consider presenting these numbers to my client when it comes time for that review.

@Scott E wrote:
It's my opinion that if somebody discusses the possibility of a raise in the future, then more often than not, you're never going to get that raise. The fact they feel the need to entice you with a raise means they know they're not paying a very good rate at the moment, but want to give you something to entice you to continue working with them. This could be a tomorrow that never comes kind of situation. 
However, I obviously hope that I'm wrong and this is one of the few instances where they do actually mean that they are intending to give you a raise in the not too distant future. 

I would be inclined to agree with you - except that I was the one who proposed the low rate initially, and she is the one who initiated the discussion of a raise in the future. This was one of the first jobs I applied to on Upwork, before I had attended the webinar, before I had spoken to any of the people on the forums... Before I knew any of the protocol when it came to freelancing. Maybe I'm just a hopeless optimist.

 

- Barbara Herrera -
crhysconsulting
Community Guru
Cairenn R Member Since: Aug 19, 2015
7 of 15

The EFA link is the best advice. I use it and adjust accordingly per project.    

naomij1411
Community Leader
Naomi J Member Since: May 15, 2015
8 of 15

I'm in a similar position to you in that I don't feel able to just jump into charging professional rates given I had no evidence of writing ability apart from undergraduate papers - although I would happily provide them as samples and mention this in my portfolio.

 

It's also tough to tell to what extent the hourly rates you see on others' profiles are starting points for negotiation - as I think most writers prefer to work by word count.

 

So when I started I was asking around what the minimum wage is in the UK - very roughly $12 an hour, but before fees so really it was a little less.  I put some proposals into pave-the-internet jobs (great term!) at around $10-12/1000 words, which felt low but reasonable for the quality of work I was applying for and had a better chance of getting as a newbie.

 

I managed to get a piece the client was happy for me to share, which happened to have been needed very fast.  I actually didnt ask beforehand, but once it was done - and I think she was so surprised with the quality for the price that she agreed happily. 

 

She is now a regular client and pays a bonus on almost every job she offers me.  As I start to get more work at better rates, I may eventually have to suggest a higher rate to her - and risk losing the work, but I'm getting to the point where I could afford to do that.  They are quick, easy writing jobs though that I am currently happy to fit in around other things.

 

A little after this I got a writing/marketing job which pays almost as much as ten times the amount.  It requires more thought than the pave-the-internet jobs, but the client is happy and it boosted my confidence.  I put my rates up to at least $12-15 per 1000 for any work.

 

Since then I have a ghostwriting contract where I suspect the client is again surprised by the quality they are getting for the price.  After the current milestones are over,  I will be reviewing my rates.  They have paid bonuses too, so I would be surprised if they aren't happy to pay a bit more when they see I can consistently provide what they are after.

 

I then got another marketing/writing job which pays at a similar rate to the earlier one, as I was able to clearly explain to a client why they should use me quality writing and someone cheaper for their less important content.  It worked Smiley Happy

 

Basically I was willing to take pay a little under what I absolutely need at first, but I will be putting my rates up slowly but surely and keeping an eye on it.  It's easy to say don't take $6 an hour - but seriously, there is work on here at twice that rate for those with less experience than you now have.  And its probably more interesting too.

 

I have had a couple of weird/try to get free work clients from the internet filler jobs, so I am keen to move on just to get away from that.  If your clients seem happy with what you are writing, charge more!  And consider looking at different types of writing.

 

babzward
Community Guru
Barbara W Member Since: Sep 10, 2015
9 of 15

@Petra R wrote:

Barbara, write some more grtty, high value stuff for your portfolio. We know you're capable of it, clients don't unless you show them!


 What sort of stuff would you recommend? I am working on a couple fiction stories (for myself - well, for future publication and profit, of course) but beyond that I'm not really sure what sort of "high value" stuff should be included. I did recently complete an e-book for a client, but I'm not sure how I would incorporate that into my portfolio as I didn't retain any rights over it. (Since finishing it, I have been told by others that I essentially got ripped off... But it does bear my name and I consider it to be exposure.)

 

Naomi, it sounds to me like your starting rates were pretty close to what mine are currently - after some increases at others' recommendations. This makes me feel all the more embarrassed at how low I started at, but I guess it's all part of the learning process, right? Sigh. I only wish I had been smart enough to do this background research before I started submitting my proposals... I wouldn't have such low rates in my history holding me back now. 

- Barbara Herrera -
petra_r
Community Guru
Petra R Member Since: Aug 3, 2011
10 of 15

Barbara, write some more grtty, high value stuff for your portfolio. We know you're capable of it, clients don't unless you show them!

 

 

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