Readers: Can You Answer These 4 Freelance Writing Questions?

Carol Tice

As you read this, I plan to be lounging by a lake in the hotter part of my state, enjoying the summer. But there’s a problem: Freelance writers have a lot of questions!

My mailbag is bulging. However, I think I have a solution.

This month, I got some questions that I strongly believe my smart blog readers can answer for you.

So this post is an experiment.

I’m just going to post the questions, and let the savvy writers who read my blog give you their answers in the comments.

We’ve got questions about pricing, taking low-paying gigs, breaking into new markets and…pricing. Take your pick!

QUESTION 1:

I have a burning question that comes up every time I am presented with a big project: What should I charge?  Is there a resource freelancers can use to determine what to charge?  I refer frequently to the Writer’s Market, but some projects aren’t as cut and dry as the ones listed in the book.

I have an opportunity to edit a bi-monthly newspaper working from home.  The project requires editing four to 10 stories a month, fact-checking some, rewriting others from press releases and writing photo captions.  I would also be responsible for editing four columns and writing headlines.  The managing editor is open to a flat fee or rate per article.

According to the Writer’s Market, I could charge anywhere from $2,000 to $5,000 per issue, or $185 to $230 per page.  What would you suggest or can you refer me to a good source to help determine rates since this question always comes up?

–Alma

 QUESTION 2:

How do you feel about blogging on HubPages to get at least a little pay? Is it worth it?

–Victoria

QUESTION 3:

I would like to write for business magazines. What advice can you give me to get started?

–Marcie Hill, MarcieWrites

QUESTION 4:

One of my new writing clients asked me for an explanation of my fees. I sent her an e-mail and told her that I charged a flat fee based on each individual project and that I would let her know upfront what that fee was. I also asked her for her writing budget, and told her that I would work within that budget.

She e-mailed me and asked me how do I determine the flat fee for each project. They have a large amount of projects and they want to know what to expect. She also evaded the writing budget question.

She is not a difficult client; I already did a major project for her and quoted her a fee, to which she paid without question. I’m a bit confused as to how I should answer her question.

— Taheerah B.

Take it away, readers! I know many of you have freelance-writing experience to share.

When I return from vacation, I’ll add my own advice in the comments, too.

What’s your advice for these writers? Post it in the comments below.

14 Comments

  1. Carol Tice

    I knew I could count on you, readers! Some great answers here. I especially had hoped to hear from people with HubPages experience since I never did them…so thanks for not letting me down.

    My answers:

    #1 – I think it’s hard for freelance writers to accept that there isn’t some magical resource with all the answers on rates. They just vary. My best bets are asking clients “What’s your budget?” before you bid and seeing if they’ll tip their hand…and asking your writer networks what would be appropriate. Every time I do these two things, I end up earning more.

    #2 – The answer depends on your goals as a writer right now. Just want to write and get a bunch of practice? Need money right away? Need great clips? Hubpages might meet that first goal, but not the other two.

    In general, I think these revshare places are mostly a waste of time for writers trying to build a high-earning career. I’m forever hearing from writers who ‘brag’ about how they’ve made $1,000 from the 100 articles they wrote over the course of 3 years…while I’m thinking I would have made $50,000 from 100 articles and gotten paid right away, writing for good markets. Not sure why the revshare thing continues to appeal to people when so few make anything substantial.

    #3 — I’d need to know more about your experience with business to guide you. Most business magazines do like to see journalism skills, and a demonstrated ability to tell a good business story. If you have that, focus on industries you know well, and consider hitting trade magazines first — they have a harder time finding good writers and don’t get pitched much. Or business weeklies — they often assign freelance, especially if you’ve found an interesting business to profile they hadn’t discovered, or a trend angle that would fit some theme they need in their editorial calendar.

    Then, you can use those clips to pitch the Seattle Business or Entrepreneur type mags. That’s actually exactly how I got into Entrepreneur — leveraging clips from trade pubs, a business weekly, and a city business mag to go up to the national level.

    #4 – I’m going to agree with the British Royalty approach — never apologize, never explain. If you must, give some general explanation that your fees are based on your time estimate and many other factors such as level of sophistication of the work, interviews needed, rewrites you expect, etc. Bottom line: it’s the price you feel makes it worth your time to do it.

    Generally, when you get these kind of reachouts, it means someone is looking to cut their rates. I had one website I wrote $20K worth of content for at good rates — $1 a word for many of the pages. After a lull, I got a request to quote my “best price” for another package. I noted that my rates were my rates. Never heard from them again…think their attitude toward content development had changed and they were now looking for someone to do it for pennies.

    If any of the questioners above have any followup questions, please come on down and leave them in the comments! Happy to answer.

  2. Clara Mae Watrous

    Dear Teerah,

    My question is how did you figure the charge for the last project you did for your client? You say she was happy. Were you?

    I wonder if maybe telling her that you figure your fee based on the time (including when she wants it done) and expense it takes to do a project would satisfy her. Or maybe asking her to give you a sample idea of a project she needs to be done, so you could better calculate, as each project would be different in size and detail.

    It almost sounds like she wants a flat rate for any project, though surely not.

    Cheers,
    Clara Mae

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