Tag Archives: setting freelance fees

Even More Dirty Little Freelance Secrets

dirty secrets writing freelance articles

by Joe Wallace

I love sharing dirty little secrets, especially the ones I don’t think anybody else is willing to spill (or haven’t thought to yet). For experienced freelancers, a few of these are a no-brainer, but for anybody just starting out in the game they can be gold waiting to be mined.


Ever wonder why Freelance-Zone writers put “by so & so” instead of having the username come up on the post or having the author assigned by WordPress instead? SEO. That inclusion of “by Joe Blow” means anytime somebody Googles “Joe Blow” or comes up with that article by Joe Blow in the search results, a little bit more free PR just happened. Repetition is the key to marketing.


Whenever I query a new editor, I use any advantage I can find. They live in the same state as my sainted Aunt? If I can find a way to work the personal connection in there (without being unprofessional or obviously corny) I’ll consider it. Trust is earned when you feel like you know someone.


One day, you will work on a project as a freelancer where you need to do the client a HUGE favor. Before you say no because it’s an unreasonable expectation or totally screwing up your other plans, think about the position it puts you in for future work and recommendations. You might want to render that big favor with the full intention of calling it in at a later date. Trust me, you’ll want to call that favor in someday. Yes you will. Those who think doing good is its own reward haven’t been in the freelance writing game long enough. Continue reading Even More Dirty Little Freelance Secrets

How I Set My Freelance Rates


One of the biggest dilemmas freelancers face in those early days is setting basic rates. It’s true that when you’re on year zero of your new self-employed status, you’re going to bid low for gigs–experience is a reward all its own. But you still need to eat and pay the rent.

There’s no benchmark for how much to charge except how much your peers are charging. As in, people in the same experience and skill level as you. Beginners are in an awkward place because they don’t feel justified charging premium rates when they aren’t sure they can deliver content that lives up to the expectations set by that high price tag.

Some experienced freelancers advise, “Don’t bother asking what Vanity Fair is paying when you can’t even make it into the National Enquirer yet.” That’s a bit harsh, but basically true. Set a figure high enough to justify working on the project, but not so high that the client expects rock star results, or worse yet, walks away because they don’t think you’re up to it at your experience level.

But once you’ve made it out of the early stages of your freelance career, how much SHOULD you charge?

There are three basic rules I use for pricing out freelance fees not pre-set by the client:

  1. How large is the project? I charge more for time-consuming, detail-heavy projects that take me away from other paying gigs.
  2. How “important” is the project? High-profile means larger budgets. I don’t see anything wrong with scaling my fees accordingly. I respect the budgetary constraints of small companies, but bigger companies not only want more, they have higher expectations of the finished product, too. Those expectations cost more money, simple as that.
  3. How badly do they want this done? A reasonable deadline equals more reasonable rates. The inverse is true for ridiculous deadlines or expectations.

Some clients try to get you to lowball yourself by trying to force you to come up with an opening offer. I say you should negotiate from a position of strength. I always ask A)What the budget for the project is, and B)What they have paid freelancers in the past for similar work. Any whiff of BS in this phase of the negotiation makes my fee go up accordingly.

Why do I do that? Two reasons–If I think I’m being played with, maybe I really don’t want to work with this company. But it’s hasty to bail on a negotiation of fees just because you have a bad feeling. But a GOOD company will try to at least haggle with you on a rate they think is getting too high. Secondly, if a company really is full of clowns, but they accept my higher fee without trying to haggle, I’ve got some compensation for putting up with their annoying behavior.

Solid people get reasonable rates and offer reasonable expectations. Dodgy, shoddy, and fast-talking types do not. If you have reasonable expectations, it is only fair to be quoted a reasonable price. What’s reasonable?

That is impossible to quantify across the board, but my rule of thumb is that it should be at least as much as I made on a similar project for a previous client. I charge an amount equitable for the work, comparable to other freelancers at my skill and experience level. If you’re an expert in your area, you deserve to be paid for that expertise. If you’re a newcomer, charge a rate that gives you some financial incentive but isn’t disproportional to what you can actually do for your new client.

Negotiating Freelance Rates for 2009

freelance-writing-advice-3An interesting article at FreelanceWriting.com includes this quote:

“Many individuals who lack writing skills drive down rates, way below what professional writers can rightfully charge. If the true professionals do not keep up their prices, this will become an even bigger problem. Just because writers from other countries want to work for eight or nine American dollars per hour, this doesn’t mean you should.”

That by Brian Scott, who in the same article advises writers to list their rates on a website and collect a retainer up front. I disagree with both of these suggestions for two reasons. I never list my rates on my website–it prevents me from being flexible with small clients who work on limited budgets. Let’s say you find a non-profit you believe in and want to cut them a break–listing your rates up front could scare them away before they even get in touch. In theory, you’re also committed to those rates regardless of how labor-intensive the project winds up being. Continue reading Negotiating Freelance Rates for 2009