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Monday, November 16, 2009

Pricing Tips for Freelance Writers

Here are some tips for pricing your products. The number one tip is to be fair. Everything else falls under this heading. This means that you need to be fair both to your clients and to yourself. The tips in this article address three issues you need to consider in establishing your pricing: 1) new kinds of work; 2) time involved; and 3) word count.

New Kinds of Work
The first few times you do a particular kind of project that is new for you, it will take you some time to learn the steps, the style, and your own unique strategies. This is the learning curve. The client shouldn’t have to pay for you to learn. Time yourself so you know how much time is invested, but don’t charge the client for every actual hour. Depending on the kind of project, I always cut my time in half, or even half again when I bill the client. By knowing how much time it actually takes you, you can better figure out how to speed up your work for future jobs. You can also use this information to determine if this is the kind of job you want to take on or not.

So you lose some money on these first few jobs in this particular category; you gain an education. Remember the value of learning something new so you can be fair in how to charge these new clients. I wrote my first few sets of SEO articles for a mere $1.25 per article. It took me about an hour (sometimes more) to write each article. I must be crazy to work for $1.25 per hour! I would never take a job like that! But what I gained from that experience turned into a monetary reward eventually. I learned how to research for several articles at a time: lots of quick Google searches for a general niche, not per keyword; overlapping my writing; speed writing. Now I get $10.00 - $12.00 per hour for SEO articles because I can write 4 – 6 in an hour. Per article, the price is still considerably low - $2.50 - $6.00 – but with better and more efficient strategies, I can justify it. When clients are paying for hundreds of articles, they aren’t willing to pay a lot for each one.

Learn to work efficiently. When working on a particular project, don’t split yourself up into other tasks and projects. Focus on that one assignment and crank it out at your top speed. Get one assignment done and out of your mind. If you let things sit around in your head for days, you end up giving your time and attention to it subconsciously. This is precious time that you are not getting paid for! You know old adage, “Time is Money.” Yes, it’s true. As a writer, you use time differently from most people. A project that sits in your mind keeps you thinking about it, and therefore, working on it until it is gone. So aim to get projects started, finished, and sent to the client in the most efficient time possible. This is the only way to be fair to yourself in terms of how much you are putting into an assignment against what it is paying you monetarily.

Word Count
Lots of writing charge by the number of words on a page. This is fine, but I’m not sure it is the fairest way to price your work. In order to be fair to yourself and get paid for all that is involved before you get those words on the page, you have to charge enough per word so that it balances out. This may not particularly be fair to each client. By charging per number of words, you may get paid a lot of money for easy projects and may only barely cover the cost of your time for more difficult projects. Maybe in the end it all works out, but maybe it doesn’t. If it does, it isn’t necessarily fair to all of your clients. And if it doesn’t, it isn’t fair to anyone – you or your clients.

What works best for me is to have a basic price per page that I work with in my mind as the starting point. Then I charge the client by the project depending on what all is involved. So for example, if I have to do research, that is an added cost. A quick Google search is different from academic research. Consultations, interviews, layout and design, these are all in addition to the number of words.

When pricing your work, keep fairness at the forefront of your mind: be fair to yourself and be fair to the client. Fairness is the “Golden Rule” for freelance writing. It is what will keep you competitive and will also keep clients coming back time and time again.

NOTE: this is 820 words and it took me 25 minutes to write it.

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