Tag Archives: setting freelance rates

Negotiating Freelance Rates

Joe-Wallace-Vinyl-Collector-and-authorSince I’ve recently come off a round of negotiating–on BOTH sides of the table for two separate projects–I thought it might be a good time to share a few freelance rate negotiation tactics that work well for me.

Do Your Math

When I set rates for my freelance writing work, I add up not only how much time it takes me to write the piece, but also the time included for researching, tweaking, and making the piece into a final draft. But most freelancers should already be doing that–my secret weapon here is to anticipate other factors.

For example–how long will my new project take compared to past projects? Does this particular writing assignment require more heavy lifting than my previous work of the same length and approximate subject matter? Is there a unique requirement for volume compressed into a shorter deadline?

Your fee might need adjusting if the project wants something you can do–a dozen articles on donating blood, for example–but wants it in three days. Never forget to factor in these more intangible things that can make an assignment far more difficult.

Research The Client

When you arrive at the bargaining table, your future client might try to cry poor, asking for a lower rate than you’re worth. It doesn’t always happen, but sometimes it does. However, if you know your client is, for example, an ad agency with a string of high profile names on their portfolio, you can feel more comfortable about sticking to your guns.

The reverse is also true; once I was contacted about an editing project for a book that was 100,000 words long. I immediately saw dollar signs until I read that the author was a retired person on a fixed income. I had to turn down the project on that basis as I knew that A) I would feel guilty about charging my usual rates and B) the book would require more time than I could give charitably even if I did agree to work to a reduced fee. My paying clients AND the book author would get shortchanged in the end.

Give Yourself A Raise

When setting rates with a new client, ask yourself how long it has been since you raised your rates. Is it time to adjust for inflation, cost of living increases and other obviously reasonable concerns? Perhaps so.

Joe Wallace is a writer, editor, and multi-media artist. His recent work includes a series of blog posts and articles about personal finance and retail banking. Wallace shows off his latest video installation, “Super Happy Adventure Mashup Time” as part of Adventure Time!, a group art show at Chicago’s OhNo!Doom Gallery which opens on August 11th.

Freelance Advice For Newcomers

This YouTube video, posted by the folks behind LockerGnome.com, is not for anyone currently working as a freelancer. But I refer you to it anyway because we ALL get questions from people who want to–or THINK they want to–become one of us. How many times have you wanted to refer someone to a specific resource or link that could answer some of the basic questions that we’ve all answered 100 times or more?

This video is a great reference primer for people on the outside looking into the freelance world. Bookmark this, send it on to your friends who keep asking you about the freelance life, and save yourself some breath. Admittedly, there is a bit too much self-promotion about LockerGnome for some tastes, but the value of this clip for freelance outsiders can’t be underestimated:

Negotiating Freelance Rates? Give Yourself a Raise

Joe Wallace Turntabling Rare RecordsIt’s easy to forget that the whole world is NOT paying attention to your every move–especially if you freelance online. But who really IS paying attention?

I don’t write that to be insulting. I write that to be ENCOURAGING. As in, who really knows what  you’ve been charging for your freelance services in the last year or two? Sure, if you publish a rate card online you’ll need to be a bit careful when adjusting your fee structure, but when it’s time to talk fees with a new client it may be a good time to ask yourself if it’s time for a raise.

Even a small one.

One of the most difficult parts of the freelance game for many is staying motivated in the tough times. Getting compensated what you feel you’re worth–or at least within spitting distance–is part of that motivation. Have you been working for peanuts? Working too long for peanuts? Have you been working at a reasonable, but somehow still not quite satisfying rate? When you’re the boss, the only person to ask for a raise is YOU.

I struggled with that concept for ages…how could I justify charging my new client more when I was still working at a lower rate for others? When I realized that I wasn’t cheating, but offering my older clients a longevity discount, that’s when it occurred to me that I could indeed up my fee when warranted, and not worry at all about the idea that I might be fudging numbers, shortchanging a newcomer or asking for something I didn’t really earn.

The more experience you get as a freelancer, the more your inherent value as a freelancer goes up…unless you do shoddy work, of course. But this post isn’t aimed at the half-hearted, substandard, or just-barely-good-enough types. I’m talking to you, Mister and Miz Hardworking Freelance Person. Ask yourself–are you due for a pay increase? I bet the answer is “Yes”.

Joe Wallace writes music AND writes ABOUT music. He’s currently working on a video installation project for a gallery opening to be announced soon, sound design and ambiance for an art opening in Ohio, and polishing up his manuscript for WTF Records: The Turntabling.Net Guide To Weird and Wonderful Vinyl. Contact him: jwallace(at)turntabling(dot) net.

Saying No to Freelance Work

Freelance clients and salary negotiationIt seems counter-intuitive to turn down any kind of freelance money, especially in this economy, but there are definitely times when freelancers need to use the n-word.  As in, “NO”.

Or perhaps, “Not only no, but HELL NO”.

Freelance Folder has a very good post about this idea called 21 Times for a Freelancer to Say No. I won’t reinvent the wheel–their post is excellent and covers 99% of the bases. But there’s one thing that should be added to your mental checklist when sizing up a potential client.

Are they showing early warning signs that the relationship is something less than professional?

By this I don’t mean people who flirt with you, or act overly familiar, or display some of the warning signs listed in the “21 Times” piece. Instead, I’m talking about something I personally call “clingy client syndrome”, where you suddenly find yourself dealing with someone calling and messaging you excessively about the project, asking for things outside normal business hours when it’s not appropriate, or simply demanding too much of your time when it isn’t warranted.

I once found myself in negotiations with a potential client who seemed, based on a combination of behaviors I observed in the short time I spent at the company’s offices, more interested in creating an entourage than getting any real work done.

The symptoms included a large up-front payment, combined with randomly shifting priorities and goals. The work letter I drafted was ignored in favor of “idea of the moment” planning, actual deliverables seemed unimportant to the client, and there were lots of detailed emails at very odd hours.

In the end, I had to walk away. I’m a professional writer and editor, not an on-call monkey boy.

If you work in the freelance business long enough, regardless of your specialty, you’ll encounter the same type of person–a socially awkward, semi-isolated person who decides that what they really need is some kind of paid companionship in the guise of a legit business agreement. It’s sad, it’s strange, but it’s common enough. There are plenty of famous people who have done just that–I won’t mention any names, but I will say this–freelancers should pay attention to the sorts of warning signs they think they’re seeing in these cases.

When should you say no to freelance work? Sometimes those alarm bells going off in your head for no specific reason are enough. You can definitely read and heed the 21 scenarios listed in the Freelance Folder blog post, but don’t forget to trust your instincts about the intangible things making you uncomfortable. They might not solidify into solid hunches until later, but they’re worth your attention.

Joe Wallace Vinyl Collector and authorJoe Wallace is a writer, editor, social media manager and collector of bizarre record albums. He loves weird vinyl records so much he wrote a book called WTF Records: The Turntabling.net Guide To Weird and Wonderful Vinyl. Now he’s shopping for an agent. Contact him at jwallace(at) joe-wallace.com

Wallace is available for freelance work and consulting on a selective basis. His social media clients include FHA.com, Bank Administration Institute, and MilitaryHub.com. He writes web content for VALoans.com, FHANewsBlog.com and more; previous clients for his web content and editing work include Motorola.com, Artisan Talent, Verizon Wireless, and the official site for Jason Donnelly, AKA DJ Puzzle.

How to Go Full Time as a Freelancer: Five Painful Steps

Note: After a few horrified responses to this post, I should point out that I am wearing the pointy hat for much of this screed…that is to say I may have actually DONE this, but remember that all editors are slightly crazy and I’d never expect anyone to seriously take this advice unless they are as much of a rabid workaholic and certified nutter as I am.

There is no one tried and true way to make the jump from part time to fulltime…except possibly ONE method, the one I tried myself with great success. (How egotistical is THAT? There’s no way to make it except MY way, HAH!) Yet, when I think about it, this is the only method I know that makes any sense at all IF you have a day job you need to dump with extreme prejudice, and want to get yourself into a freelance situation where you wake up and tell yourself that your job is getting in the way of your career.

Naturally it’s a painful, isolating and downright masochistic path to follow to fulltime freelance success, which is why many people shy away from it. And who can blame them? Do you really want to suffer for your dream? You’ll find out just how committed you are when you contemplate doing “the Crazy Joe Wallace Method”. Also known as “Leaving Las Vegas, For Writers.”

What you do is decide, sort of like Nicholas Cage in that uber-depressing movie, that you’re going to write yourself to death.

Well, not quite. The actual trick is to write so hard that you WISH you were dead, but manage to take care of yourself in the meantime enough to maintain your madness. What madness would that be? Continue reading How to Go Full Time as a Freelancer: Five Painful Steps

Freelancer Tools: Your Local Library

I am a freelance editor and writer. I don’t know how to write PHP, Javascript, or use Linux. So why am I reading a book on how to be a freelance computer consultant? One written ten years ago which is now hopelessly out of date, technology-wise?

Simple…I want to know how other freelancers do business and see if there are any “best practices” I can glean from their experience.

One of the best pieces of advice any freelancer will get about setting their rates is “never work hourly”. Sure enough, it’s true in the freelance computer consulting world, too, but I also got some great tips about dealing with hostile work environments, dealing with on-site freelance situations where hostile employees make your life difficult, and how to structure your payment schedule for long-term projects to make all parties happier with the arrangement.

I learned all this stuff for free, having checked out out the book from my local library. It’s surprising where you can learn cool stuff about the ins and outs of freelancing. I had a good laugh reading a ten-year-old book on marketing via the Internet. DId you know there are these great micro-publishing websites called “weblogs” (blogs for short)?  Ten years ago, people were convinced that television was DOOMED and that while “blogs” are amusing, they could never be taken all that seriously. After all, they’re so niche-driven, where’s the money in THAT? (Sarcasm alert. It makes me sad that I even have to put that in here, but there you go.)

The library is your friend…especially if they stock a copy of that book every new freelancer is tempted to buy, Writer’s Market. You do NOT need to purchase this book! Chances are the library has done it for you.