The freelancer’s guide to setting reasonable rates
When I started out as a freelance writer, I searched endlessly online for an idea of what to charge. Some freelancers shared their rates on their websites, but they varied enormously and were usually just estimates.
In freelancing forums, the usual suggestion was to charge a rate that made the work worth your while.
For a newbie, I found it terribly frustrating. However, it was actually very sound advice.
A freelancer in one part of the world may be able to live lavishly on $5 an hour, while another writer needs to make $200 a day to meet their basic living expenses.
So it really doesn’t matter what your peers charge. What’s important it setting a rate that is realistic, reflects your experience and allows you to live off more than baked beans!
Top tips for setting freelance writing rates
Now that I’ve been doing the freelancing thing for a while, I thought I’d share with you my top tips for setting rates:
1. Use a freelance calculator: Aussie freelancer site Flying Solo has a handy hourly rate calculator. Simply plug in your expected expenses, billable hours and anticipated time off and it churns out a suggested per hour rate.
2. Set strict terms of payment: As a freelancer, your time is incredibly valuable. As well as writing time, you should also factor in the time you’ll spend researching the client’s business, competitors and market. You’ll also need to account for revisions you may need to make after the client has reviewed the copy. I offer two revisions, which I work into my project fees.
3. Add a buffer: Whatever you decide to charge, always assume the project will take a little longer than expected. You may end up sending more emails, having longer Skype calls or writing extra copy. You might like to add an extra hour to account for these unexpected tasks.
4. Believe in your abilities: Many freelancers lack confidence in their skills and their value to clients. If you under-sell yourself, you’ll earn a reputation as a ‘cheap’ copywriter and reduce your earning potential. Set respectable rates and your business will benefit.
The bottom line
Setting your freelance rates can be trial and error. If you’re just starting out, you won’t be able to charge a top rate for your services. But over time, as you gain experience and build your portfolio, you can raise your rates.
Just remember to never sell yourself short. As the celebs say in those L’Oreal ads, ‘you’re worth it!’
How did you set rates for your business?