It’s time for another installment of my Freelance Writing Guide For New Freelancers. Setting rates is perhaps the most puzzling of all aspects to a new freelance writer, because of all the conflicting messages presented on the Internet.
In one corner you’ll see the $3 for 400 word article jobs advertised and in another you see that a writer gets paid $0.30 a word which would net him a nice sum of $120 for a 400 word article. Not bad at all, but nothing in relation to getting paid $2 per word or more for offline writing.
So, what are the contributing factors that state what kind of rates we can set and who says you are ready to upgrade them?
The answer is simple: it is YOU that decides on these!
The rate debate
When we start out in freelancing we are often overwhelmed as to how we can determine our rates. The biggest mistake we can make is to compare ourselves to other freelance writers.
You should take their rates only as an indication of what the going rate is for a particular market, but it should never be indicative as to your own.
The reason is that we all live in different parts of the world and what might be a great wage in one country is considered a pittance in another.
Therefore your primary concern should be your local economy and what would be considered a good hourly wage in your neck of the woods. If you can pay the bills and feed your family on the set hourly wages you charge, you are on the right track (even if you just start out).
This will give you a guideline on what to aspire to. For example, if your circumstances require $15/hour and you can write two 400 word articles in that time comfortably on any topic, then you’ll know that your per article charge has to be at least $7.50. Naturally when you first start you want be fully booked right upfront and might only earn a total of 4 hours work in the first weeks.
This isn’t a problem as I hope you don’t just ditch your job to become a freelance writer overnight. Just build up to your desired level of pay and gradually increase your hourly rate if you need more.
To list rates vs not to
I have grumbled with this decision for many months before I said “what the heck” and simply went for it. I feared that if I set my rates in stone (figuratively speaking) I would miss out on clients who can’t afford me and might not be fully booked.
As it turns out, I shouldn’t have worried.
Plus, I realized that I cut myself in the foot with this mind set. I don’t actually want the clients who don’t pay me what I’m worth. It is a simple as that.
Listing my rates has not negatively affected my business at all. As a matter of fact it was the other way round.
What are we really worth?
Our self worth can only be measured by our experience as a writer and what the client feels is right for them. I might be too expensive for some clients and that is fine with me as there are plenty of freelance writers who charge less and they will feed to that market.
My rates are determined by my location, the cost of food and the ability to live. Nothing less, nothing more.
Don’t measure your self worth against another writer who charges more or less. Do what feels right for you and what you are comfortable with.
In the end, a good measure is when we see ourselves fully booked all the time. It means that the prices we charge are just right.
If on the other hand you sit at home wondering where your next job comes from, then maybe just maybe you need to lower your rates to be more competitive.
Rates are a living thing
A freelance writer’s rates are forever moving with the flow. Sure, at some stage we come to hit a plateau. We might in fact be very comfortable by what we charge and feel that we are fair but can make a living.
Despite this sense of security we should never resign to the fact that there is not more to be had if living costs increase.
In the end, you are worth whatever you find is right for you. A match made in heaven is when your clients think the same.