One of the biggest roadblocks for freelance writers trying to get private clients is pricing.
When you’re hanging your own shingle, it can be tempting to charge super low rates to get someone – anyone – to buy your services.
Bur if you are serious about writing, you need to set rates that help you earn what you’re worth so you can attract the kind of clients you want to work with, and not the sort of clients who think they should pay writers pennies.
Why Low Rates are a Trap
Maybe you already write for a low-paying content mill and you earn $8 for 300 words. It’s tempting to use the money you already earn to set a new base rate. So, instead of $8 for a 300 word post, you think you’ll take $12.
Why not? It’s a 50 percent raise.
Or maybe you scan Craigslist to see what other writers are asking for, then set your rates on the low end of that to be more competitive than other writers near you and steal their clients.
“I’ll raise my rates once I have 5 clients,” you tell yourself once you’ve used these strategies to set a rate.
Yet 5 clients turns into 10 and then you start to worry that the clients you have will quit if you raise prices, and then you become too afraid to raise your rates. Meanwhile, you feel like you’re worth more than you’re charging and you start to resent the clients you do have.
Before you know it, the quality of your work decreases and your relationship with your client is strained.
Now you’re definitely too scared to raise your rates because you need your low-paying client.
The cycle of settling for low rates continues, and you don’t know how you’ll get out of it.
Does this sound familiar?
There’s a better way to handle rates for freelance writers. It’s not only going to help you feel good, it’s going to help you attract the sort of clients who understand and value you as a content creator. All it takes is a little thinking, a little math, and the courage to change.
How to Earn Your Worth as a Freelance Writer
Instead of setting your rates from a mindset of scarcity, think about what you would like to earn per hour. What will it take for you to not only bang out content, but create really good content that you feel proud of? What will it take for you to write without thinking about whether you’ll make enough money before the internet bill is due the whole time?
Go somewhere quiet and peaceful. Sit down, make yourself comfortable, and spend a few minutes thinking about what that magic number is. Don’t let thoughts of your current rate come into your mind. You aren’t earning what you are worth right now so that number isn’t important.
Then listen for that voice in your head that says, “This is what I need to make per hour to do work I feel good about.”
Then write that number down.
While you need to know how much you want to earn per hour, this won’t be the number you tell your clients. For them, the writing process is mysterious and probably scary (otherwise, they wouldn’t need to hire a writer).
So now, you need to evaluate the content you write in terms of time to assign the right portion of that hourly rate to each content asset. Do this for every type of content you want to offer, like a product description of 150 words or a blog post of 500 words.
- Is this something I can write quickly with knowledge I have, or will I need to spend time researching or thinking about how to structure this content first?
- How long will it take me to research this type of content?
- How long will it take me to write the content?
- Will I do one draft or several drafts?
- Do I usually do revisions for this type of content, or is it one and done?
- How much one-on-one work does this type of content require in the form of email exchanges or Skype calls? Is it hands-off or hands-on?
- Am I finding images or creating graphics for this product
- Am I promoting this content on social media?
- Do I need to spend any money or time traveling to write this?
- Any other questions that are relevant to determining the rates for that specific content asset
Read over the answers and add up how much time you’ve allotted.
If you anticipate writing a 150-word product description in 20 minutes and won’t do any revisions, extra drafts, social media promotion, or research, then you can bang out 5 descriptions in an hour so can charge less per-piece. Or, you might offer a bundle of 10 product description for a set rate to incentivize clients to buy your services in bulk.
On the other hand, if you expect to spend 10 minutes researching a 500-word blog post, 30 minutes writing and 10 minutes finding images and promoting content on social media, that represents 50 minutes of your time. You need to charge a lot more for that blog post.
Once you’ve done this for every type of content, you have your base rates. These rates are your guidelines for every new client relationship. Now, you can negotiate with clients who want a content creator from a place of confidence, not scarcity.
When you can ask for what you are worth, you’ll inevitably scare away some clients. But, if someone can’t pay what you’re worth, then it’s not a good match! Instead of focusing on the clients who can’t afford your rate, keep searching for those who can!
I believe in you. You’re worth more. But before anyone else sees that, you need to believe it!