Most freelance writers struggle to pay their bills and the reason that is because they sell themselves short. Much has been said about freelance writing charges and how far we can go to make a solid income which in the end relates to your personal business success.
When I started out I started with very low rates and in hindsight I honestly think this wasn’t such a smart idea and I”ll tell you why in a minute. I was selling myself short because I was new to the game and believed that in order to break into the industry I had to set my rates low.
Today I think it was wrong. While I do think that you can price yourself out of the market, I don’t think that you have much to worry about if you continue to deliver high quality work time and time again.
Even for freelancers who use English as their second language, there are plenty of ways with which they can get paid while writing in their native tongue.
When I look at plumbers for example, I still pay $70/hour for an apprentice who has no industry experience and limited knowledge. The same applies to many other service related professions and while plumbers do absolve and apprenticeship to get fully qualified, so do writers, just without an official paper to say they did.
Making the mistake of short selling yourself can cost you a lot of money over the year and only YOU alone know whether you do this or not.
One way to price yourself properly is to establish your rates and here is how you can do this.
Establishing your freelance writing rates
I get a lot of emails from new freelance writers who are lost in regards to setting their rates and I can’t blame them because I was too when I first started out in the industry.
The only way I was able to get a good feeling on rates was by visiting other writers in the industry and see what they charged.
Over time this helped me in establishing my rates to the extent where I was happy. Since then I have seen plenty of other freelance writers who offer higher rates than me and plenty who offer cheaper. I figure there will always be a scenario like this and to be honest, this doesn’t worry me at all.
I do not need to compete with any of you who are in this line of business, because the pot of opportunities is deep enough for many more.
The secret lies in the billable hours
To establish your ideal rates you first need to look at your target annual income. Say you target $40000/year.
Add to this your fixed business expenses, such as Internet provider costs, social security, office supplies (software, computer costs, hosting,domain name, etc.) and health insurance as well as taxes.
Here is how this would look on a spreadsheet:
- Targeted yearly income = $ 40,000
- Extras = $ 20,000 (please note that this figure is just for explanation purposes and not an accurate result of actual costs)
- Total target annually = $ 60,000
So your targeted gross income is $60,000 according to this example. But how can you take this figure and work out acceptable rates when clients knock on your door?
Here is how. Usually, freelance writers work about 21 hours per week. This work is not inclusive of promotion and checking your emails, but the actual work you do for clients.
If you take your target of $ 60,000/year and divide this by 1,000 billable hours it will relate to working around 21 hours per week.
Doping this in our example would mean that your target hourly rate is $60 an hour.
If you want to run a successful freelance writing business, then this is how you should budget your rates. When you first start out, it won’t be that easy because most likely you will not be fully booked from the moment go. But once you are, you need to seriously look at your rates in order to achieve that income you target.