Monday, June 17, 2013

A Writer's Worth

By Pamela

Over the past ... oh, wow ... many, many years, I now realize, I've procured a decent, steady income writing and editing as a freelancer. I'm a 1099 vs. a W2. Recently several new doors have opened, and I've found myself staring down the barrel of the what-do-you-charge dilemma.

Like any professional getting paid to perform a service, freelance writers and editors need to get comfortable with setting a fee for their work. Some publications offer a standard rate--you don't get to say what you charge; they tell you what they'll pay. You either agree to their rates or step aside and let them find someone else who does. Other clients might agree to a per-word fee, an hourly rate or expect you to bid on the project as a whole.

Before you establish your rates, here are some things to consider:

  1. Have you worked with this client before? If so, you should have some idea as to how much work will be involved, how receptive they'll be to your suggestions and how much time might be spent rewriting.
  2. Will you be expected to handle revisions and, if so, how many rounds of edits are you willing to do? Make sure you factor this into your rate.
  3. Will you give up your rights to the work? If you submit a story to a publication, are you giving them permission to use it in other pieces, post it online or reprint without your permission? 
  4. Will this open the door to future opportunities? If you foresee a client being someone you'd like to work with long-term, allow some wiggle room with your fee BUT keep in mind it might be hard to command more for your work later on.

What is your time worth? 
Like a tony resort in a coastal town, I've even been tempted to quote seasonal rates during school holidays. It's going to cost someone a bit more to get work from me when my precious child is sitting wide-eyed across the table from me--glaring holes into the back of my laptop, sighing, grunting and occasionally whining about how bored she is. Hazardous pay? You betcha! So far this summer, I've been a bit more choosy and, as hard as this has been for me, said "not this time" and let a couple projects go to someone else.

Most of all, you should decide what your time and talents are worth, factoring in what you're willing to sacrifice to get a foot in the door. If it's a client you really want to work with, you might be willing to write something on spec or offer up a one-time discount so they can view your skills. Just remember your value and what you have to offer. Writing might be easy, but writing well is a rare commodity. If it wasn't, there would be fewer people out there looking for someone like you to compose a piece for them.


  1. Hi as a six-year freelancer who's surviving on it, I caution against discounted or free work. They should hire you based on samples and experience. If you are new, you might consider it to build a portfolio.

    1. Good advice, Liz. An experienced writer is able to command more. And congratulations for being able to sustain a career as a freelancer. You must be great at managing your time!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...