What’s the Going Rate for Freelance Services?
I was recently asked, “What’s the going rate for freelance services,” and I had to laugh. As an economics major, the going rate for goods or services is what the market is willing to pay based on supply and demand.
From a freelance writing perspective, I laughed because I’ve heard from many business owners, “Freelance writers really keep their rates a secret.”
Yes, it’s true. If we publish rates, it’s a range or a starting point. I do this because I never want to be locked into a published rate and here’s why:
Pricing Depends on a Variety of Factors
- Length of blog posts requested. 300-500 words is the standard but there is a need for longer form posts.
- Familiarity with the topic or industry. If the topic you request is obscure (at least to me), the pricing will include research time above what is my customary built-in charge.
- Capacity to complete the work. Capacity is dependent on how many retainer (monthly) clients and projects, type of work (blogging, copywriting, content strategy), level of research needed on current workload, experience in writing a particular topic, meetings and networking opportunities.
- Value of an Hour of Time. This goes hand in hand with capacity. The value of an hour depends on how many hours I have available and how I choose to use them. Sometimes I choose to get paid $0 per hour because I’d rather be at a baseball game with my dad. Other times I want to work 12 hour days and max out my income because I want to buy a plane ticket and head to friends and family for a visit.
Truth be told, I have standard rates for my services that are aligned with the type of work I want to do and the target client with whom I want to work.
My going rate for freelance services includes the amount of time it takes to acquire a new client and retain current clients. I looked at the following:
- Was I networking in the right places to get the type of client I desired? Define your target market and network where they network and nowhere else. That may mean saying no to some opportunities and that’s okay.
- How many meetings do I schedule? Even after I meet a target client who is interested in working with me, we have to discuss if we’re a good fit for each other in terms of my writing services and their need, and then develop the scope of work. That takes time.
- What’s my marketing plan? While networking and meeting prospects is part of marketing, there is also the time it takes to develop a strategy, research content, schedule social media, develop an editorial calendar, and blog.
- How many emails and phone calls am I doing? When I first started as a freelance writer, I didn’t factor emails and phone calls to clients and prospects into my going rate.
As you’re looking at the going rate for freelance services, ask yourself:
- What is an hour of your time worth?
- How many hours a day do you want to work?
- How much time are you spending ON your business in meetings, networking, and marketing? How much time should you be spending?
- Do your rates include the time it takes to acquire a client?
My guess is that you’re not charging enough for your skills and expertise. I’ve been told that too. It’s a tough balance between wanting to charge your worth, needing the income, working with people you like, and working with your target market. I’ve found the sweet spot of my rate for freelance services to be when people start telling me no. Those probably aren’t the people who see the value of my skills and expertise which means I probably don’t want to work with them anyway.
If you’re interested in learning more about my blogging and copywriting services, please visit my website www.mcauleyfreelancewriting.com.