What I’m listening to: Incomplete by James Bay
It happened again. Another forum discussion on rates, another person asking about rates.
This time, the writer was reviewing the various pricing guides and thinking it was either time to raise rates or use those extremely general price ranges to show clients the bargain they’re getting.
I get it. We freelance writers often struggle at first with knowing what to charge. We need help. So we turn to a ready-made chart listing ranges of pricing. I did it once upon a time. So did you, I’d bet.
And it’s probably a really lousy way to set your rate for these reasons:
- These rates are often based on averages of all writers, not just those who know how to charge appropriately
- They don’t take into consideration your experience
- The rates are for general writing, not any one specific area
- They could be based on something completely different than what you think they mean
- None of them seem to be based in actual facts or figures
So when you see a list that suggests charging $50 an hour for web writing, does that mean for writing an article, a blog post, an entire website? You can’t really tell, can you? And where did the $50 figure come from? Again, no idea.
There’s no science behind it. Just random, possibly arbitrary figures made up by someone who may or may not have the experience to understand the nuances of our profession and the wide variations in projects across all genres.
So why are we following these guides at all? Good question.
Your rate isn’t that tough to come to. You need to understand one thing first:Your freelance writing rate is yours alone to set. Click To Tweet
Got that? Good. So how are you going to set a rate that you think is fair and one that will give you the amount of money you want to earn?
You could do the math. In that case, use the tool most of us have used at one time or another: Jenn Mattern’s Freelance Hourly Rate Calculator.
If you’ve done this for a few years and you’re looking to justify a rate hike, here’s your method:
Yes, it is that simple. You don’t have to ask permission, explain yourself, or answer to anyone for it. Some of your clients may not like it and yes, you may lose a few because of it. Or you could do what I’ve done whenever I’ve had to raise rates — I do so for new clients, keeping the existing clients at the old rate for as long as it makes sense.
Keep in mind as you set or adjust your rates that you have to account for all your expenses: healthcare, insurance, retirement, savings, bills, home and car maintenance, etc. Most clients understand what they’re not paying in benefits and full-time pay is reflected in your higher rate.
Writers, are your rates where you want them to be?
How did you give yourself that first raise? If you’re not there yet, what’s getting in the way?
How did you come to your current rate?