Writing Freelance: How to Set your Price


 

If there is one unifying element in freelancing it’s pricing, or at least, confusion about pricing. Not a day goes by that I am not being asked by another copywriter what and how I charge. The truth of the matter, though, (and I know you don’t want to hear this) is that price is based on the individual.

Some people price per word, others per project, some by the page and still others by the hour and then there are content mill revenue share models. They all have their merits, in different situations. And there are a lot of variables to take into consideration when it comes to pricing – none of which have anything to do with being the lowest price in town.

Never compete on price

Pricing can be a challenge for any freelancer. When I first started out, I had horribly low fees, naively trying to “beat the competition,” to get jobs. What a mistake! What I found is, when you compete solely on price, you attract clients who shop solely on price. This removes value from the equation and is the worst kind of client you can land. Clients who chose based on price alone, are among the least loyal clients on the planet, easily lured away by a lower price. Ironically, these price vultures are also the most demanding clients (because they do not value what you do.)

 

Ask for what you’re worth

So how do you determine your price? By figuring out what really goes into what it is you do. Remember, your clients aren’t just paying for what you do, but for what you know. Your expertise is part of the package, as is your willingness to take on the risk of being a business. Arm yourself with some basic information to guide you in your pricing journey.

• Figure out what your yearly expenses are (cell phone, wifi, insurance, postage, subscriptions and memberships etc. – anything you can claim on schedule C.)
• Find out what you would be paid if you were employed full-time (try sites like salary.com and payscale.com.)
• Add these two figures together – this is your minimum base gross.

 


Pricing Models

Decide which pricing model you feel most comfortable with, based upon your own preferences and the market segment you work in.

• Some segments (like small business) prefer to pay hourly and do projects in small manageable pieces.
• In journalism, its often per word.
• Per project is the way many mid-size and corporate businesses prefer to see bids.
• Content mills run different variations on the revenue share model.
• Many freelancers (like copyeditors and proofreaders) work per page with an average number of words per page specified in the quote (e.g. 8 pages per hour at 250 words per page.)

Evaluate your needs and monetary requirements, take into account your experience and the average market rate (e.g. average freelance copywriting hourly fees range from $75 to $150 an hour) and consider what your market segment prefers in pricing.

But whatever model you choose, make an informed decision – one that factors in YOU and not just what your competition charges. Knowing your base allows you to discern whether taking on that next assignment will be time well spent towards your bottom line.

Have a comment, idea or project for The Portland Writer?