I like giving advice. I like helping others and I like being able to see that my knowledge and experience is of benefit to others, in both business and personal capacities.
When I first got into freelance writing, that’s all I was doing – writing. I would get a few assignments, work out exactly what was needed, confirm this with the client and work through the project until it was finished. I’d send over the pieces via e-mail, get approval, make any amendments if they were requested and then charge for my work. It was a simple and straightforward process.
A few months into my career, I started working with some small businesses. We’d go through the same process mentioned above and everything was great.
As is so often the case with small businesses, they wanted as much help as they could get – SMEs generally don’t have huge budgets and so understandably, any advice they can receive, they’ll gladly take – and I found myself sending e-mails giving advice on all things writing related, from where to publish the pieces through to how it impacts on SEO.
A little while later I was jumping on phone calls to discuss further.
All this time, I was doing these things as ‘favours’. They were still my clients and they were providing me with regular work, but they were only paying me for my writing work – everything else, because it was just ‘now and then’, didn’t seem overly important to either party in terms of costs.
But then I realised I was starting to spend more time ‘consulting’ than I was actually writing – and I needed to do something about it.
I had two approaches – increase my per word rate, giving me the ability to spend more time with each client or charge a consultancy fee. I decided to go for the latter option, with a bit of a tweak and it worked really, really well.
What I essentially offered was a monthly package whereby I split my time between producing content and consulting. It worked great for me – financially, too – and my clients loved it, because they were paying a little extra but getting both the content they required and the knowledge they so desperately needed.
The discussion around freelance writing rates goes on and on and you’ll always find some blog or forum somewhere talking about it. The problem is, the discussions almost all revolve around your writing rates and not your knowledge and experience overall. They don’t take into account the amount of time you spend with a client outside of producing the actual content or any other potential service you could be – or already are unknowingly – offering.
I’m not saying that you should always charge for your advice – jumping on a call occasionally with a client can prove to be a great relationship improver – but you need to define the line between offering free advice and offering what should be a paid service.
Adding another string to your bow and a few extra coins in your pocket, I’ve decreased my consultancy time considerably over the past year because of other commitments, but working with a handful of clients on a consultancy basis was fantastic and arguably one of the best times of my career to date.