In fact, when you look at a selection of writing projects, wildly different might be a better definition.
Which is why pricing a freelance writing project can be anything but straight forward. It’s also why the notion of ‘standard’ price or ‘going rate,’ etc. is pretty silly. Nor does the concept of a ‘fair price‘ for writing really hang together.
That said, over and over again we take on pricing freelance writing projects.
Two categories to consider
When you’re pricing the writing, you need to address two categories:
- The nature of the work
- The price you’ll charge
Yes, these two come together, and it sometimes helps to start by approaching them separately.
The nature of the writing you’ll do
It’s always at least a bit exciting when you’re contacted about a writing assignment. That said, you need to be as sure as possible you understand exactly what you’re being asked to do.
For example, if you’re asked to write a course, do they have samples or templates you can use, or are you inventing the thing from scratch. Either is okay, but if you’re doing the inventing it will take you longer.
Do you have the background for what you’re being asked to write? Sure, we writers really are quick studies, but if the topic is totally new to you you’ll need to allow more time.
Do you think you’ll like doing the writing on this project? You don’t have to, although it will make it easier.
What about the person you’re working for and with? Do they have full approval or will it need to go through others to be signed off? If so, it will take you more time.
Do you like and understand the person you’re working for? You don’t have to become BFF, but you do need to rub along reasonably well and you do need to be able to communicate with each other. The project will fall apart if this isn’t true – if it isn’t, maybe you ought to skip it.
Are the deadlines reasonable? What will happen if you don’t make them? You need to know.
Be willing to ask many many questions, and be willing to tell the possible client you will get back to them with a specific proposal, then set a date several days away so you have time to think it through.
The price you’ll charge
Pricing a freelance writing project well takes some time. Chances are you have a price in mind. It probably came to you early in the conversation. The potential problem with that number is it’s almost certain to be too low.
Spend some time determining what’s actually involved. Figure the time you’ll spend based on your understanding of the scope of work. Write it out – X hours in research, X hours in interviews, X hours in writing, X hours in editing, X hours in phone calls, etc. etc. etc. Go over this several times, always checking for what you left out and what you suspect you’re underestimating.
Put this sheet away for at least a few hours, overnight is much better. Review it closely.
Multiply the number of hours times your hourly rate. At the moment this number is only for you. Add 10 percent and see what price that works out to be. The 10 percent is a contingency fee, and potentially your real profit. Don’t mention it to the client, but include it in your thinking.
Go through your list again, but this time see if you can figure out a word count. Sometimes we discover we’re actually writing the equivalent of a book – 30,000-120,000 words or so. If that’s true, know that ghostwriters would charge any where from a dollar a word to twice that or more for such a book.
Sit with both prices for awhile. Listen to your inner voice – it’s amazing how much it knows.
Pick a price, put your proposal together, send it off – take a short break, and on to the next project.
What do you include in your pricing considerations?
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Write well and often,