When starting off freelancing, one of the first things you will need to think about is, “how to charge for freelance work?” There are several different ways you can set your freelance rates. The most common ways of charging for your services are:
- You could choose to be paid by the hour
- Some writers even prefer to be paid daily
- More commonly, writers are paid by the word
As a budding new freelancer, depending on your outlook, it may seem like you have the whole world against you, or a mountain full of opportunities to chase when starting to pick up your first set of clients.
Most of us do this job because we LOVE the second option.
Why work for yourself?
Working for yourself is thrilling, challenging, engaging and also very fulfilling when you get it right. On the other hand… if you get it wrong, you may be left with no safety net, no stable income and just your words to fend off those pesky debt collectors!
I’m going to come across VERY contradictory here but, there is no ‘wrong way’ to charge a client… however, if you charge them the wrong way, you might lose their business forever.
If you are targeting a new customer, they may be very hesitant to accept an hourly or day rate. You have to remember, they don’t know you. They likely haven’t seen much of your work and coming in saying you’re going to be charging £35 an hour might be a bit of a turn off for them…
A lot of companies are so used to using content mills and receiving a sub-par piece of copy for as little as £5 for 1000 words. If they are feeling generous and want higher quality work, they may think they are being generous when they offer you £7 for your time.
Unless you have faster fingers that Van Halen himself, you aren’t going to finish that article in under an hour… especially in a way that satisfies the client. If you take any longer than an hour, you’re then working for less than minimum wage. Remember, this is all before tax too… so just take roughly an extra 20% off the payment you receive to put this into perspective.
So what am I supposed to charge?
Whatever you want. That’s it. The best thing to do is be brutal with yourself and try to work out how much your client values you.
Writers with more experience naturally get paid more money, especially ones that write a niche subject. Writers with a strong social media presence can also afford to charge more as they give more of a personable approach to their work.
A quick overview of how to charge for freelance work
Charging by the word
Different people may have different methods of charging for their work. As mentioned above, a lot of people expect a ‘per word rate’. This is great in the way that it allows you to be consistent, but also doesn’t fully cover the work sometimes.
If a client wants 1500 words for SEO purposes, you may find you can write a perfect 750-word copy that covers the topic, adding any more to it just makes it too fluffy to read. In these situations, you may receive less money for the lower word count, or have to stretch what you’ve written.
Charging by word count also doesn’t take into account any time taken to research to subject, edit the copy you have written or adding in keywords. If this doesn’t suit your needs you may want to try a different method.
If you decide to charge a client an hourly rate this can be good to give you a more stable income. However, it’s important to note that if you are doing repetitive work, you are going to (hopefully) get faster at completing it. This means less money in the long run but could also mean more work. It’s a fine balancing act but requires a great deal of timekeeping.
Charging day rates or project rates could also pose the same problems. You also may not fully know the extent of how difficult or easy the work would be when accepting the contract. This may lead to sticky situations where you are forced to cram due to deadlines.
It also means that you may have to dedicate the whole day to the project. This sounds silly when you say it out loud.. Because that’s what a day rate is… but what happens if you have other work coming in at the same time? It would be a tad unethical to complete that work while getting paid by somebody else…
Charging per project
Charging per project is something that usually only happens when you are very familiar with the customer, or, know a lot about the sector that they work in. This will include a lot of project management to make sure you stay on target with what they want. You may also encounter the dreaded last-minute changes which tend to plague projects. If you charged a rate per word, you wouldn’t be losing out as much in these cases.
I’d love to know what you all think! Are we running on mainly word count for our invoicing? Maybe even factoring in research and editing into the word count cost itself?
If you are looking for a freelancer that can deliver these kinds of blog posts for your site then don’t hesitate to hit me up with an enquiry on the following page.
Let me know in the comments below your methods for how to charge for freelance work and I’d love to jump into a discussion with you