Ed. note: this is an excerpt of Write Your Way Out of the Rat Race…And Step Into a Career You Love, an e-book by Linda Formichelli that launches today.
Before you jump into a writing career, you need to be absolutely clear that you are writing for money. You want to leave the rat race, and you need to earn a good income from your writing in order to do so.
Too many writers feel that because they’re new to the game, they need to underprice themselves. Then they get stuck in the limbo of $5 articles, penny-per-word blog posts, and “free sample” case studies—and can’t climb out.
So the question is: How much should you expect for your writing?
Not an easy question to answer. But one thing I can tell you for sure is you should not base your pricing on what other writers charge or what you think the client can afford.
Figure out how much you need to make per year to pay your bills and make a profit that’s acceptable to you. Calculate how many billable hours you’ll be working per year and how much you’ll need to charge per hour to make it work. That number is different for every freelancer.
This is a very simplistic formula. For more detail on setting your prices, download Erik Sherman’s free e-book Planning a Writing Business.
But that’s not the only way to price your writing services. You know what I do when someone asks me for a price? I make one up that feels good to me. (And typically that comes out to $250 per hour.)
I always felt like a slacker doing that, until I read Your Right Price, a free e-book by Mark Silver. He discusses heart-centered pricing, which is basically using your heart and your intuition to determine the right price for you.
Magazines and online publications typically pay by the word (for example, 50 cents per word), but it’s smart to figure out how much you make per hour with each client. You’ll sometimes find that the $2.00/word client ends up paying you less per hour than the $.50/word client, because the higher-paying client is more of a pain in the butt to work for and requires multiple revisions.
As for copywriting and other forms of writing where you charge by the project, don’t make the mistake of revealing your hourly rate to clients. This opens up an opportunity for the client to micromanage you in order to get the number of hours down, and to question the speed of your writing. (Also, more experienced writers write faster—and why should they be penalized for that?)
Instead, estimate how many hours the project will take, pad it a bit to make sure you’re covered, factor in a couple rounds of edits and revisions, multiply this by your target hourly rate, and quote a project price to the client. (Or do what I do and go with your gut on pricing!)
You Can’t Please ‘Em All
No matter what price you choose, you will lose out on clients who can’t afford you.
I promise, there are plenty of clients who can pay what you want. So if you set your price at $80 per hour, you will find clients who can pay that, and those who can only budget for $40 per hour will take a pass. If you charge $100 per hour, you’ll miss out on clients who can only pay $80 per hour, but you’ll find yourself getting assignments from that higher tier of clients.
Of course, you must offer enough value to the client to make your price worth it to them. But that said, you don’t need to mold your price strategy to what you think a particular client can afford. That’s a sure route to driving yourself crazy as you try to guess what the client wants to pay.
Linda Formichelli has written for close to 150 magazines since 1997—including Redbook, USA Weekend, Writer’s Digest, Inc., andFitness—and more than two dozen copywriting and content marketing clients. Today (October 10) at 12 pm EDT, Linda is launching her e-book Write Your Way Out of the Rat Race…And Step Into a Career You Love, which will help you leave the 9-5 to pursue the career of your dreams. Click on the link to be the first to know about the limited-time low-price offer Linda has in store!