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When Setting Freelance Writing Fees Add Something for Contingencies

contingencies - woman with water thrown in her faceI regularly add an amount for contingencies when I’m creating the price for proposals. My goal is to protect myself and my business in the unforeseen events that can happen between a client and me as their writer.

Since I generally work by flat fees, I simply add between ten and twenty percent, even twenty-five percent,  to the total proposal. I don’t spell out that I’m adding a charge – there’s no reason to because my fees are my fees; how I got there really isn’t any of the client’s business.

I decide how much to add based on the type of project and how I feel about the client. If the project seems not clear enough and I can’t get clarity I’ll add at least ten percent. When the client seems difficult, I tend to go for the higher addition.

Here are the four reasons I love factoring in fees for contingencies:

Covers you for some scope creep

Scope creep is that sometimes subtle client request for additions that aren’t included in your proposal and contract. Left unchecked they can eat into your profit. Although you want to refuse or get more pay for major changes in the scope of the project, it’s also nice to accommodate the client’s request for some additions and know your price was high enough to allow you to do so without resentment.

Adding for contingencies gets you paid for surprises

It’s not unusual for something important to get left out of proposals for bigger projects. If you’ve included contingencies in your pricing you can afford to go ahead and make the changes and additions. That’s what the extra fee is designed for.

You don’t have to argue for additional pay

When you add to your price for contingencies you won’t have to argue for more pay if the project changes a bit. Sure your contract also need to spell out under what circumstances your fee will increase, by adding for contingencies in the beginning you get to have it both ways. You’ve got some room to do a bit of extra work while you’re also protected against major scope creep or changes. Nice.

I feel more secure knowing I’ve covered my behind

How well I remember how scared I felt when I first began submitting flat fee proposals. And I blew a few by not charging enough or even thinking about contingencies. A wise business woman suggested I begin to build contingency thinking into my pricing. That too was scary, but it’s worked like a charm over time.

What’s your experience with building in fees for contingencies? Do you? Do you like the idea? Disagree? Let us know in comments.

Write well and often,

{ 4 comments… add one }
  • Try it and let us know how it works, or doesn’t.

  • Andrea Phillips

    I have never done this but it is a wise idea. Thanks Anne.

  • Anne Wayman

    Yes, Paul, that’s a great observation. It’s also true that writers face expenses and time testing out the right clients to work for. A true tow-way street.

  • I have used freelancers writers extensively on my blog for Task Pigeon and I find that one of the biggest expenses you face in the early days is simply the trial and error of testing out various writing to find the one (or more) that fit your suit and get the type of content you need to produce.

    Once you find them though I have been very pleased with how high quality and committed a lot of freelance writers are in the industry

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