Tips to Find the Ideal Balance Between Pricing Your Work Fairly — and Making a Good Living as a Freelancer
Guest Post By Daisy McCarty
Note from Paige: During my long career as a freelance writer, I’ve found that pricing jobs is consistently one of the most challenging parts of being a freelancer. I’ve always felt the pressure of not wanting to charge too much and lose the project, and charging a fair rate so I can actually make a living as a freelancer.
I’ve mostly just priced by the hour. This has always been easy for me and my clients — but am I making all I could and should be making on writing projects?
Daisy provides some great insight and a very handy list of questions to use for pricing by the project.
Thank you Daisy for sharing with us. I’m going to revisit the pricing per project approach in the New Year.
For freelance writers, one of the most challenging aspects of the job is determining how much to charge.
Even as a new freelancer, it won’t take you long to realize that not every project is worth “a dollar a word.” Billing by the hour isn’t a good idea either, since you make less money as you become faster and more efficient.
In fact, there’s no magic formula that will work for every job. Instead, a third way to price jobs is to bid on a per-project basis. To make it work, you need to consider the concept of Scope of Work (SOW).
That’s Why Scope of Work Matters
Understanding the SOW of a project is the key to smart pricing.
Since few clients are completely clear in their project descriptions and may not know exactly what they want, it’s important to ask the right questions before you offer a firm bid.
There are a number of benefits to carefully evaluating the SOW:
- You gain insight into the time commitment involved so you don’t run into trouble juggling multiple projects and rushing to meet deadlines.
- Your client’s response to a request for additional information gives you a clue regarding the quality of their communication, level of professionalism, and overall attitude.
- You can impress your client with a “full-service” bid that details all the great stuff they didn’t know they were getting.
- The client doesn’t make erroneous assumptions about what’s covered based on their experiences with other freelancers, and you can clamp down firmly on “scope creep.”
- You have a starting place to negotiate a smaller scope of work if the client is looking for a lower price.
Scope Questions for Web Content Writing
Here are some important questions to ask before you take on a web content writing project. You can use it as a checklist, turn it into a client questionnaire, or just review it whenever you write a proposal to ensure you’ve covered all your bases:
- What’s the approximate word count per page, post, or article? (Feel free to suggest a word count if the client doesn’t know.)
- What is the desired timeline for completion? (A rushed completion or one that requires to you spend all your time on one project is a good reason to assess a surcharge.)
- Should content be turned in as it is completed, in batches, or when all the work is done? (This information may help when you are scheduling multiple projects simultaneously.)
- Is any research being provided by the client? (A list of hyperlinks they pulled off Google doesn’t count.)
- How many revisions are included? (It’s actually better to tell the client how many revisions you are offering rather than asking this as a question. Otherwise, they’ll probably say they want unlimited revisions and you’ll have to explain why that’s not reasonable.)
Article Writing Questions:
- Will interviews be set up for you, or will you need to find your own sources? (It may take days or weeks of searching to find an industry expert who is willing to speak with you, so having the client set up the interviews is usually best.)
- If the client has already interviewed subjects, will this research be provided in audio file or transcript format? How many minutes are the interviews? (It takes longer to listen to audio than to read text.)
Blog Posting Questions:
- Will the client be uploading and formatting the content? (You should charge extra for uploading and formatting blog posts, including adding meta-descriptions.)
- Will the client need images uploaded with the content? (Due to copyright concerns, it’s best if the client sources the images for you to upload. Otherwise, calculate plenty of additional time to find good images that you can verify as cc licensed or public domain.)
- If the client wants you to guest post, are they finding the guest posting opportunities for you, or do they expect you to find places to guest post? Are they open to sites that ask for payment to host guest blogs? (You can spend a lot of time looking for guest posting opportunities and end up with nothing to show for it. This is one situation where you may want to be paid for effort rather than results.)
Static Web Content Questions:
- How many people will be reviewing the content? (With every person involved in the project, the number of requested revisions usually goes up. Insist on a single point of contact so that all revisions are decided upon before you are asked to rewrite anything.)
- Will you need to participate in any conference calls to discuss the web content strategy? (Consider charging by the hour for these extra meetings to keep the calls brief.)
When you ask questions like these, you can bid with greater clarity and confidence. What questions do you always ask to help you scope out the scope of work? Share your tips in the comments.
Daisy McCarty is the co-founder of Freelance Text and the author of “Make Freelancing REALLY Pay – Communication and Negotiation Strategies That Take You to the Top.” This book helps new and struggling freelancers select the right clients, raise their rates, stabilize their income, and much more. Find out more about the book at makefreelancingpay.com.