What I’m listening to: Wrong by The Airborne Toxic Event
We’ve all done it.
We’ve asked the question: “How much should I charge for …?”
While there’s nothing inherently wrong with asking other writers “How much do you charge for…?”, by asking how much we should be charging, we are, once again, putting control of our businesses in the hands of others. It’s a good way to be led in the wrong direction, even by well-meaning friends.
Still, that’s not the bigger problem with determining our price for a particular freelance project. To me, the honor of Worst Possible Way to Set Freelance Writing Rates goes to pricing guides.
We’ve all done that too, haven’t we?
Why pricing guides are so bad:
- They’re entirely too general — possibly based on average rates across the country
- The methodology is missing (where are the numbers coming from? Who did they ask?)
- They don’t account for specialty rates
- They assume control over your ability to determine your own rate
There’s no reason to use a pricing guide, either. In fact, there’s a surefire way for freelance writers to get to the project rate easily without every having to look at another pricing guide.
Set your own hourly rate.
Yup. That’s it.
Ah, but you’re not sure how to come to your rate, are you?
The good news: it’s not much tougher than deciding to set that rate.
It does require about 10 minutes of your time.
But it will change your business dramatically if you do so.
For years I’ve been sending people directly to Jenn Mattern’s Freelance Hourly Rate Calculator, which is a simple, five-step questionnaire that calculates it for you once you fill in the desired income level and work hours.
Once you determine that rate, you can use an even simpler method to determine a project rate:
How long will it take me to finish the job?
Get to that price by looking closely at what the client wants.
Then assign a time value to each item or requirement.
Then add 20% to that total.
There’s your project rate.
However, not every project goes as planned (most don’t, in fact). Edits, revisions, additional input from this person or that person… welcome to the feeling of a snowball rolling down the side of the Alps. It’s fast, frenetic, and growing by the second.
Stop that snowball with contracts.
State the price and how many hours of your time that includes.
State hourly rate for any additional work over that time limit.
Limit revisions to two or three (and work that price in as though they’re full-out rewrites).
Ask to know the editorial players to eliminate a committee when you were assuming two people. Put those names in your contract before you start.
Don’t be afraid to mention that the work has gone beyond the contracted limits.
Writers, have you used pricing guides? What has been your experience with them?
How did you come to your hourly rate? How do you calculate your project rate?