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Writers: Should You Charge By the Hour, the Job, or….Something Else? by Myra Muili

Writers: Should You Charge By the Hour, the Job, or….Something Else? by Myra Muili

One of the most difficult parts of running a freelance business is figuring out how much to charge. As a freelance writer, your target is not just to make ends meet, but to get paid what you are worth. Or, at least, that is what it ought to be. Over the last year, I have worked with freelance writers, helping them develop a marketing strategy that works for them. I have noticed how baffled writers are when it comes to valuing their work. While pricing is crucial to the writer’s trade, it is unfortunate that the most known and often used model is pricing by the hour, which works for some cases but can leave the writer with less money than they could have earned otherwise.

The most common types of rates I have encountered are pricing by the hour, per word, and per project. When setting their hourly rate, the writer considers factors such as salary, expenses, profit, and billable hours. This type of pricing is simple, and easy to negotiate, allows you to set rush rates for time sensitive jobs, and accommodates a number of job scopes.

Pricing per project may enable you to project your income more easily, and to tailor fees to job scope and client but it, too, presents challenges. For example, what if the client tries to add extras to the project? Renegotiation can be tricky.

However, these methods, while they often work, may tend to demean the writer’s worth if they are not careful. I use a model of pricing that I like to refer to as “pricing per knowledge and expertise.” This model puts into consideration the factors involved in pricing per time and per project, plus one more – the financial value the client derives from your work.

Case in point: Let’s say you charge a client $100 after having considered all the expenses you will incur but then the client gets $100,000 of revenue from content you created. When the value you create as the writer is not proportional to the amount you are paid, you are definitely leaving money on the table. Pricing for knowledge and expertise will put the value generated by the content you create into consideration. The assumption here is that, the better quality content you produce, the more value you create for your client, and the more profits they can expect as a direct result of your work.

This type of pricing will, of course, require you to do some extra research, asking about the client’s intended use for your material. Additionally, it will drive you to deliver content that will more closely match their needs. It may mean that some clients find your fee a bit too high and it would be your job to communicate your value and to educate them why you are the perfect writer for the job

One thing I have come to find out is that clients that pay respectable fees usually value quality over savings. As you price the services you have to offer, put into consideration the value of the expertise you have developed over time! Get paid more for the hard work you have put into your professional development.

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Based in Kenya, Myra Muili is a Social Media Strategist and freelance writer who enjoys writing literary fiction on her free time. Check her out at Myra is currently working on her first fiction novel.



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