In part one and part two of this series, I talked about various aspects of having a part-time freelance writing career. From understanding that full time doesn’t have to be your end goal through to always being on the look out for networking opportunities, I’ve drawn on my personal experiences and hopefully provided you with at least some food for thought for your own career development.
Today, I want to take a look at the importance of writing rates and the reason behind this focus is simple:
To be a successful part-time freelance writer, you need to have a perfect handle on your rates.
When I started out writing, I didn’t have a set rate card and even today, although I have rough guide, I tend to price each project separately dependent upon a number of factors, from the actual work required to how much I want to be involved.
If you’re setting out to be purely a part-time writer, I strongly believe your writing rates have to play an integral role in your development from day one.
As a full-time writer, you can afford to be picky, but similarly, you can afford to work on every single project possible. You can say yes to everything (if you wanted to), irrelevant of the rate and get a few extra dollars if you’re wanting to fill a gap in your schedule.
When you’re part-time, every piece counts. You only have a few hours every week to work with and you want to ensure that the money you’re receiving for those hours is as close to what you’re asking for – or need – otherwise you either won’t meet your financial goals or you’ll have to work longer to meet them.
The problem, however, is as a new freelance writer, you have to find that middle ground that combines flexibility and affordable prices (in relation to your experience) with the right amount of personal worth and an understanding on the client’s behalf that they’re paying for quality.
And unless you get this right, you can very easily lose out on client after client.
As I said above, when working full time, it’s not too much of an issue – you don’t get a gig because you’ve priced it wrong. So what? There’s plenty of work out there and you simply move on to the next project. As a part-time writer, you don’t have the luxury of having 40 hours a week to split between actual writing and then marketing / applying for gigs – you might only have 15 hours each week available and if 12 hours are actual work and one hour 30 is for general admin, that’s just 90 minutes for marketing and applying for new projects.
What’s more, the unfortunate news is there aren’t any strict guidelines that you can follow to help you set your freelance writing rates as more often than not, you’ll have to base it on your own judgement.
As a new writer, if you’re happy earning $10 for a 500 word article, then aim slightly higher and negotiate your way down if need be. But if you need to earn $500 per week for 15 hours work, you need to be aiming for around $40 per hour of actual work, assuming two or three hours are for admin, marketing, etc, which in some instances means you may have to work more than your set ‘quota’ of hours to get the money you require.
Freelance writing is difficult enough of a career to succeed in full-time and although it’s understandable to think that part-time might mean half the work, it can often be the more difficult option as the importance of everything is seemingly magnified, as you try to ensure that you successfully work and earn the money you require in the time you have available.
When it comes to setting your writing rates as a part-time freelance writer, although rates will vary between writers, the one piece of general advice I can give is that you need to be versatile. As I mentioned above, I still price each project individually, albeit around a few set rates and I strongly believe this is how you will best be able to move forward as a part-time writer.
Have set rates in your mind, but don’t fix them to a certain project. If you need to earn a little extra one week, try and price yourself higher than you normally would and negotiate down, but likewise, if you can afford to be a little flexible one week, don’t be afraid to offer the client a discount, as reduced pricing may not only be enough to secure you that first gig, but it could pave the way for more work in the future.
I understand that this blog post doesn’t do much in the way of offering a substantial amount of advice, but that’s the nature of the ‘rate’ beast. It’s so difficult to set your rates, but I wanted to touch on it as I really do believe getting your rates right from the off can help you to be the most successful part-time freelance writer possible.