How to price your services as a freelance writer

Chloe Brooks
Jul 18, 2018 · 6 min read

An easy formula that that doesn’t cap your earning potential

How to price your services as a freelance writer
How to price your services as a freelance writer

Pricing your services is one of the most difficult things to do as a new freelancer, and one of the questions I get asked most as a freelancing coach. There are several factors at play in how much you should charge, and the process is much different than negotiating your salary as an employee.

Though freelance rates may vary depending on service type, project length, expertise, and work involved, the process to determine your rate is the same across the board. Here’s the structure I use to determine my own freelance rates.

1. Set an hourly rate

Calculate your expenses

Image for post
Image for post

Next, add up all of your business expenses. Think carefully about any subscription-based tools you use, faster internet, and banking fees. If you work from a home office, you may need to allow for a higher utility bill than you’re used to.

If you’re not eligible for a spouse’s or parent’s insurance plan, you’ll factor in the cost of your own.

And remember that you’ll need to pay more in taxes than you’re used to since you have no employer making up the difference.

Now add the two together. This is the minimum you’ll need to make each month to live at the level you’re used to … and that’s not considering savings or profit margins. (More on how to prep your finances for freelancing coming soon).

Calculate your working hours

A 40-hour week doesn’t necessarily mean a 40-hour paycheck, so your freelance rate will need to cover the cost of that time.

Let’s say, for the sake of easy math, that you need to earn $100/day, based on your expenses. If you plan to work 5 hours every day, you can afford to charge $20/hour. But if you plan to work only 1 hour each day, you’ll need to charge $100/hour to still break even.

I’ve found that I typically spend anywhere from 25%-50% of my working hours on non billable work. Your percentages may differ depending on how much time you invest in marketing your freelance business.

Calculate your hourly rate

Image for post
Image for post

Note: If you plan to take vacation time or sick days, you’ll need to divide by 48–50 weeks instead of 52.

For some business models you can stop right here. But for others, signing clients at an hourly rate may not be the best decision. Remember, time is your most limited resource, so when you charge by the hour, you limit yourself on how much you can earn.

Ultimately, this cripples your ability to scale and grow your business.

So instead of stopping at an hourly rate, let’s continue on to a method that I’ve used successfully in my freelance career …

2. Set item price

Image for post
Image for post

First, estimate how long one deliverable takes to produce from start to finish. Be sure to include time for research, chasing clients for approval, making revisions, creating visuals, posting online, and any other stage of your process not mentioned here.

I recommend using a free time tracker to get a more accurate picture of how much time you spend on each project. I use Toggl to track all of my work and have found it extremely helpful in creating these estimates.

Now multiply the time spent by your hourly rate to find your product price. For instance, if you know that it takes about 3 hours to complete a blog post and your hourly rate is $50, the product price for a single blog post is $150.

Repeat this process for every deliverable that you offer. Lather, rinse, repeat.

3. Set package price

For instance, I offer my prospective blogging clients the choice of single, bi-weekly, or weekly blog posts.

Packaging your services this way allows you to appeal to more potential clients than you would be able to otherwise.

Every business is different, and not everyone is ready to make the same level of investment into outsourcing to a freelancer.

This tactic gives a few different price points for them to choose from, which gives them more of a chance to work with you.

It’s also much simpler than creating a custom quote from scratch each time someone is interested in working with you. This process is cut-and-paste, which goes a long way toward improving your productivity and scaling your business. But it’s still more customized than a one-size-fits-all approach that they might find at an agency.

Image for post
Image for post

Start charging what you’re worth

Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post

This story is published in The Startup, Medium’s largest entrepreneurship publication followed by 344,974+ people.

Subscribe to receive our top stories here.

Image for post
Image for post

The Startup

Medium's largest active publication, followed by +775K people. Follow to join our community.

Chloe Brooks

Written by

Self-employed social media marketer; learning how to be better at both. Read more about me here: www.chloebrooksmarketing.com.

The Startup

Medium's largest active publication, followed by +775K people. Follow to join our community.

Chloe Brooks

Written by

Self-employed social media marketer; learning how to be better at both. Read more about me here: www.chloebrooksmarketing.com.

The Startup

Medium's largest active publication, followed by +775K people. Follow to join our community.

Medium is an open platform where 170 million readers come to find insightful and dynamic thinking. Here, expert and undiscovered voices alike dive into the heart of any topic and bring new ideas to the surface. Learn more

Follow the writers, publications, and topics that matter to you, and you’ll see them on your homepage and in your inbox. Explore

If you have a story to tell, knowledge to share, or a perspective to offer — welcome home. It’s easy and free to post your thinking on any topic. Write on Medium

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store