“Send me a quote. How much will this cost? What are your freelance writing rates?”
When you have that conversation, it’s a good sign your prospect is interested in hiring you for a writing project, and you’re stoked.
You get off that call, do a little dance, and then freak out about your freelance writing rates.
How much should you charge? Should you just quote your usual rate? Is there a better way to estimate your fee for the project?
You could just take the fast-food approach and quote a price from your project menu or calculate a fee based on your hourly rate. But you could be missing out on potential revenue.
If you’ve been wondering how to raise your freelance writing rates, it’s time to take a closer look at your skills, your niche experience, and the value your get from your writing.
Next time you quote a project, your fee should reflect your value as a writer. It’s a proven way to raise your freelance writing rates. Here’s how it’s done.
Learn how to raise your freelance writing rates
Curious about how to raise your freelance writing rates and charge what you’re worth?
Liz is a certified public accountant and freelance writer for accounting and bookkeeping businesses.
Jonathan is a former software developer and author of the book Hourly Billing Is Nuts: Essays on the insanity of trading time for money.
How much should I charge? It’s one of the most common questions freelancers ask.
There’s more than one way to quote a project. But if you’re interested in giving yourself a raise, charging higher fees, and helping your clients succeed by writing great content, check out this advice from Liz and Jonathan about how to charge what you’re worth and set freelance writing rates.
Q: What is value-pricing for freelance writers?
Liz: Value pricing is not about just charging higher prices. It’s more of a business model and mindset shift that just charging higher freelance writing rates. The general idea is that your price for work should capture a portion of the benefit that your client receives from the work you provide.
Q: Why is value pricing a better method than an hourly rate?
Jonathan: Think about it this way. There are only so many hours in the year. When you charge by the hour, you end up artificially limiting your earning potential. Hourly billing leads to the feast-famine cycle. It’s bad for your profit margins, your state of mind, and your clients. It encourages you to take longer. It encourages you to be inefficient.
On the other hand, value pricing leads to a lot of benefits like increasing your earning potential, developing better client relationships, and improving work-life balance.
Liz: You could bill hourly or use a rate sheet. That works for a lot of copy writers. It’s a fine business model. But if you want to get off the hamster wheel of always cranking out copy, you’re really going to have to find a different way to price your work. Value pricing means you’re looking at the value yo provide based on your capacity, and use that to set your minimum prices.
Q: How do you get a client to see the value of your work?
Jonathan: When a prospect comes to you, this is going to sound terrifying, you try and talk them out of hiring you. You do that by having the “Why conversation,” which has three steps. Here’s what you need to ask:
- Why do you need this project? What’s the purpose? Basically, you have them convince you they need this content to help them achieve a goal.
- Why now? Why not put this off another month, another year? Why is this urgent? You’re looking for projects that are urgent. The tighter the timeline and risk involved if the client doesn’t get this project done, the more you can charge.
- Why do you want to hire me? List off all the people who undercut you, charge less than you, including writers on fiverr and Upwork. If you believe what you do is good, now is the best time to raise those pricing objections, and they’ll see that you’re worth it. Once you get these questions answered, prepare your proposal and include their answers verbatim.
Liz: I like to call it having a value conversation. You ask a series of in-depth questions where you really try to get in deep with your clients, their business, their challenges, and their objectives. You want to ask questions like:
- What are you trying to accomplish?
- What does this piece have to do with your sales cycle?
- What are your pain points?
- Why are you hiring a freelancer instead of producing this in-house?
- What would success look like for you? Can you put a dollar amount on that?
Q: What’s the difference between a typical writer and a freelancer who uses value-based pricing?
Liz: You’re more of a business partner than a vendor. You’re not just providing a service. You’re not an order taker. You’re a freelance writer, and a consultant. You really have to provide a lot more in terms of services and be a business partner. You really have to step up your game and deliver more value. But it also means you’re going to be able to make more money.
Q: If I’m a brand new writer, can I use value pricing?
Jonathan: It’s easy to think hourly is the way to go when you’re starting out. If I was just starting out, I’d start with value pricing. First, I’d find a way to get results for someone. Find three perfect clients. Maybe you do a project for free or a discounted price. And you do this in exchange for feedback and a testimonial. It’s a faster way to learn, get clients, and start making money than attending a creative writing course.
Q: Is this just a strategy to see how much you can charge your clients?
Liz: This is not about trying to gouge your clients. This is about providing value. For a really small client, you might just provide the bare-bones deliverable like a blog post or a case study. But for a bigger client, you might put together a package with images, social media posts, a landing page for the case study, and a blog post to drive traffic to the case study.
Q: How do you quote a project using value-based pricing?
Jonathan: Find out roughly how much the project is worth to your client. Ask those “why questions.” When you ask those questions, you’ll find out how much it’s worth, why it’s important. Think about it like this: Every single thing you buy, even a cup of coffee at Starbucks, is worth the price to you for some reason. A client project is no different. Once you figure out the value and the reasons they need this project completed, prepare a proposal with three different levels and prices.
Liz: After you discuss the project, prepare a proposal with three options. One with the bare minimum deliverables. A mid-range price with the deliverables, plus something extra like images, graphic design work, or SEO research. And the Fist-Bump package with the deliverables, plus everything under the sun so that your client could basic pop everything into their marketing machine and go.
Q: What’s the biggest challenge with value-based pricing for most freelancers?
Liz: It’s really more of a mindset shift than anything else. Before you can raise your freelance writing rates and charge higher fees, you have to sincerely believe that the work you’re providing is worth that price. You have to believe internally that you’re worth it or you will not get those higher prices.
Value your freelance writing skills to earn more
When you understand what your writing skills can accomplish for a client, you can charge higher rates. Take time to ask questions. Find out. Instead of just taking an order for a writing assignment, put on your consultant hat to better understand your client’s business, challenges, and goals. You’ll be more valuable, making it easier for you to move up and earn more.
How do you calculate your freelance writing rates? Let’s discuss in the comments below.
Evan Jensen is the blog editor for Make a Living Writing. When he’s not on a writing deadline or catching up on emails, he’s training to run another 100-mile ultra-marathon.