5 Brutal Truths About Setting Your Freelance Writing Rates

 

5 Brutal Truths About Setting Your Freelance Writing Rates

Freelance writing rates can make the best of us feel like the lone fish in a sea of freelancers who know what they’re doing.

Before I figured out my freelance writing rates, I felt the same way. I was convinced I was the only one having so much trouble with setting my rates.

Every time I had to quote my rates, my internal dialogue went something like this:

Are my rates too low? Am I undercharging myself? Will this client be able to pay my rates? Oh god, what if the client tells me my rates are too high?

If you ask yourself any of these questions, you’re in the same boat as I was.

Depending on how long you’ve been freelancing and the kind of clients you’re attracting, it can take you anywhere from a few months to a few years to figure out your rates.

Since I’d rather you spend those months and years growing your freelance business, I’m sharing the five brutal truths I discovered about setting your freelance writing rates.

  1. When it comes to freelance writing rates, there’s no such thing as “market” rates

I routinely get emails from subscribers telling me they can’t charge more even if they want to because the market rate for a 500 words post is $5.

Uhh … no, it’s not.

The market rate for a 500-word blog post is whatever amount you charge.

What we all tend to forget is that we’re part of the market too. So whether you charge $5, $50, or $500 – those are the market rates.

The next time a client tells you about market rates, pretend like you didn’t hear them. Instead, talk about the value you bring to the table. Tell them what your writing will help them achieve.

Will it get them better search engine rankings? Will it bring them more customers? Will it turn them into authority figures?

Go one step further and explain what achieving all those things mean for them and their business.

  • Better search engine rankings = more website traffic.
  • More customers = more money.
  • Becoming an authority figure = interviews and speaking at conferences.

I haven’t come across a single client – even the tightfisted ones – who don’t want these things.

  1. There is definitely such a thing as “low” rates

There may be no such thing as market rates, but there is definitely such a thing as “low” rates.

If you’re unhappy with your rates, if you’re resenting the work you’re doing, if you wish you could charge more, then your rates are low.

The figure doesn’t matter. Freelance writing rates are all about you. They’re about the value of your work and how you feel about the rates you’re charging for that value.

  1. If you’re not asking for a figure that embarrasses you, you’re not asking for enough

If you’re an email subscriber of mine, you already know this bit of advice isn’t mine. Somebody had retweeted the tweet below and it made an impact on me.

At first glance, there’s nothing profound about it. Aren’t we all uncomfortable asking for money?

The answer surprised me. I wasn’t embarrassed charging the amount I was charging at the time. In fact, a client was even surprised at how “reasonable” my rates were.

I didn’t think anything about my client’s reaction until I read this tweet. It made me realize I’d gotten comfortable with my rates. None of the prospective clients I was attracting questioned them.

How do you feel about your rates? Are you embarrassed telling your clients about them?

If you’re not, then it’s time to raise your rates and charge an amount you’re uncomfortable with.

Again, it doesn’t matter how much you charge. What’s important is how you feel about it.

If you’re charging $10, you may be uncomfortable asking for $25.

I was uncomfortable charging $300 when I’d previously been charging $100. But guess what? The first client I quoted the new price to didn’t even blink. And I got paid in advance.

Tip: Asking for an amount you’re uncomfortable with gives you room to negotiate. Chances are, even after the negotiations, you’ll still be making more than you otherwise would have.
  1. It’s okay to charge low in the beginning – as long as the “beginning” has an expiry date

There’s no shame in charging low rates in the beginning.

I’m a big advocate of “you gotta do what you gotta do” school of thought. If that means writing $5 articles to get your foot in the door, then so be it.

Everyone has to start somewhere. I started at $5 per article. James Chartrand started at an even lower rate.

As long as you use these rates as a stepping stone, you’re on the right track. But charging low in the beginning needs to have an expiry date. You can’t charge the same low rates a year later. There has to be progress.

Three months is long enough time to get the experience and samples you need to charge more.

Of course, I’m not saying you jump from $10 to $100. But a jump to $25? Entirely possible.

Tip: Until you reach $100 per post/article, raise your rates every three months.
  1. It’s not about the money – it’s about you!

Have you noticed how when it comes to setting your freelance writing rates, it’s not about the money but ALL about you?

Freelance rates are subjective – to your experience, your confidence, and a bunch of other things unique to your business.

Don’t waste your time comparing your rates to other freelancers. Focus on yourself. Ask yourself tough questions like:

  • How long have I been charging my current rates?
  • When was the last time a client questioned my rates?
  • What results have my clients gotten from my writing?

Once you have the answers, I can guarantee you won’t feel like you can’t raise your rates.

Take action (aka Just do it!)

Raise your rates today. Seriously. You don’t have to make it official by making an announcement or sending an email to your clients.

Wherever you record your current rates – be it a piece of paper or a Word document – increase them.

Raise your rates today even if it’s just by $5.

The next time a prospective client comes knocking on your door, send him your updated rate sheet and sit tight. And when the client accepts your new rates without a squeak, come back and tell me about it so we can celebrate.

Do this and it won’t be long before you’re one of the fishes who know exactly what they’re doing when it comes to freelance writing rates.

How to Attract Freelance Writing Clients with Optin Feature Box WordPress Plugin

Editor’s note: There’s a 20% discount code for an awesome WordPress plug-in at the end of this post so don’t forget to scroll all the way down!

Optin-Feature-Plugmatter

When it comes to finding freelance work, nothing works better than an email list filled with prospective clients.

Think about it – an email list full of prospective clients just waiting to hear from you. That’s the proverbial golden egg!

If you’re thinking “Samar, that sounds great, but it’s just not realistic”, let me tell you about my friend Henneke Duistermaat of Enchanting Marketing.

Wait, I’ll let her tell you about it:

Henneke

Henneke

My approach has been pretty low key. Rather than sell my copywriting services, I show potential clients I can write. I share my ‘secret’ tricks on how to write persuasive copy in my free snackable writing course (and on my blog, of course). In my email footer, I have the text “Would you like to get in touch? Just hit reply. I’d love to hear from you.”

As my email list grows reasonably fast, this generates more copywriting inquiries than I can handle. If your list doesn’t grow so fast, then you might want to make that statement a little bolder, like: Would you like help with your copy? Just hit reply.

Henneke, Enchanting Marketing.

Henneke didn’t originally set up her email newsletter to attract clients. Prospective clients contacting her through her newsletter were a happy byproduct of publishing content that showed off her expertise as a writer.

Instead of writing about how to be a copywriter, she wrote about:

  • Writing mesmerizing sales copy like Apple
  • Creating mouth-watering blog post titles
  • Mastering the art of writing persuasive emails
  • Crafting sales copy that doesn’t come across as sleazy or pushy
  • Boosting business by wooing readers through your copy

If you were looking for a copywriter, who would you hire? A copywriter who blogs about being a copywriter, Or Henneke, who writes about copy that converts and showcases her skills as a writer?

Henneke might not have intentionally set out to create an email list full of prospective clients, but that’s exactly what happened.

And now that you know it can be done successfully, you can do the same for your business.

Don’t spend hours on marketing tactics that may or may not get you clients. Focus on the one tactic that has been proven to work.

So set up an email list, write content for prospective clients, and focus on growing your email list.

Setting up an email list for your blog or website (or both)

One of my biggest pet peeves about marketing advice is that it tells you what to do but not how to do it.

Take this post, for example. The advice is great. Set up an email newsletter and target prospective customers.

But how are you going to set up an email newsletter sign up form on your blog? You’re a writer, not a web designer or developer! You don’t know how to do all the tech stuff.

On top of it all, you’re a bootstrapping freelancer. You don’t have the money to hire a web designer either.

And because I hate advice that tells you what to do, but not how to do it, I’m going to tell you what I did and tell you about the tool I use.

Your best option is to find a tool that sets up an email newsletter opt-in box on your website for you.

Introducing: The Plugmatter Optin Feature Box WordPress Plugin

When I was setting up Freelance Flyer, I knew I wanted a subscription form at the very top of my site.

Derek Halpern of Social Triggers has one and he swears by how well it converts.

I didn’t want to launch Freelance Flyer without one and I couldn’t afford a designer either. To make matters worse, I couldn’t find a WordPress plug-in that helped me set up a sign up form the way I wanted.

The launch of Freelance Flyer got delayed by four months because I couldn’t find a solution to my problem. All I knew was that I wasn’t launching without an email newsletter opt-in box.

Then I came across Plugmatter’s WordPress plug-in called Optin Feature Box and I … couldn’t believe my eyes.

It felt too good to be true. I was sure it was some kind of a gimmick and it wouldn’t be as awesome as they said it was.

How Plugmatter’s Optin Feature Box won me over

Plugmatter won me over within minutes of landing on their website. All it took was their live demo tool.

Plug Matter Optin Box Demo

I was able to see exactly how their plug-in worked. I could customize every single bit of the sign up form – from the colors to the text and even the image!

All this before I’d even checked the price tag.

After I’d designed the opt-in box to match my site’s design, I knew I had to have it.

It was such a relief to realize that it was an incredibly affordable plugin. Phew!

Using Feature Optin Box is an absolute breeze. The folks at Plugmatter have created detailed documentation to walk you through the setup too. But if you know your way around WordPress, you wouldn’t need them. They’ve made it that simple!

Now before we get to the price, here’s a brief look at the features:

  • 10 Fully customizable templates – it lets you customize everything!
  • Mobile responsive templates – your opt-in form would look amazing even on tablets and mobiles.
  • Video templates – as easy as entering your video’s YouTube or Vimeo URL
  • Custom design – Just copy/paste your HTML or CSS code.
  • A/B split testing – for maximum conversion
  • Mini feature boxes – for posts and pages you don’t want to display the full template on.
  • Much, much, more.

For more details, just go to their site and check it out. But wait!

A 20% Discount for Freelance Flyer Readers

Because I love Plugmatter’s Optin Feature Box so much and because I love you more, the folks at Plugmatter have graciously offered Freelance Flyer readers a 20% discount. w00t!

The discount is applicable on all their packages. Their single site license costs $37 which is a steal even before the discount! So grab it before the coupon expires.

All you have to do is enter this code at checkout: PLUG20OFF

Get your copy of Optin Feature Box here.

A 25% Discount for Newsletter Subscribers

You know who you are.

You’re the ones who get free coaching from me. The ones who get an inside look into my freelance business. The ones who’re the first to know what’s coming next on the blog.

And you’re the lucky ones who get a bigger discount than the one being offered to non-subscribers.

So if you haven’t already, check your email for the code that’ll give you 25% off the original price.

And if you’re not a subscriber, you can sign up now to get the 25% off. Just reply to my welcome email and I’ll send it along.

Get your copy of Optin Feature Box WordPress Plugin

Click here!

(Don’t forget your discount code!)

You now have everything you need to attract clients to your freelance business.

You know what to do and how to do it. You even have a discount to help you get started.

I’ve taken away all your excuses. If you don’t act now, it’s all on you.

Sounds mean, doesn’t it? But it is the truth.

The question is: Can you handle it?

The Freelance Writer’s Manifesto We All Need (Poster)

Scroll down for a full-sized graphic you can share and download.

Scroll down for a full-sized graphic you can share and download.

When it comes to freelancing, I believe in a few principles that guide my writing business on a daily basis.

Over the years I’ve called them many things – guiding principles, golden rules, affirmations, to name just a few.

They’ve helped me keep my head straight during the highs of my career and sustained me through the lows.

Today, I turn these principles into a manifesto and offer them to you.

You can download it, share it, print it – even embed it on your site if you want.

Whatever you do – USE this manifesto. Let it help you make a success of your freelance business.

[Read more…]

How to Create an Action Plan for Your Freelance Writing Business (That You’ll Actually Use)

Freelance Business Action Plan

I know what you’re thinking.

Another plan? Enough of those already!

A business plan, a marketing plan, and now an action plan.

Not only do they take a ton of time but they’re often based on a bunch of assumptions you pulled out of thin air.

Any plan you make is doomed to fail from the start.

You should know because that plan you made in your first year of freelancing? It’s busy collecting dust.

Most business plans are abstract, inflexible, and quite honestly – pretentious.

They might be a good idea for bigger businesses that know what they’re doing. But for the average freelancer like you, they just don’t work. Heck, most of us start freelancing to “see where this goes” before getting serious about it.

The good news is, you aren’t an anomaly – you’re the norm. So if you’ve been blaming a document for your lack of success, I’m here to tell you that’s not why you haven’t succeeded yet.

The bad news is, you’re what’s keeping you from succeeding.

You might not need a business plan but if you hope to make a success of your freelance writing business, you do need a plan. An action plan, to be exact.

[Read more…]

21 Marketing Tips for Freelancers From The Most Successful Women in the Industry

21 Marketing Tips For Freelancers
If you’re anything like me, the idea of marketing your freelance business makes you break out in a cold sweat.

On your good days, you push the idea of marketing at the back of your mind. You convince yourself you’re too busy to market. That you don’t even need to right now because hey, business is good.

But on your bad days – when you have no choice but to market your freelance business, you feel like someone’s holding a gun to your head.

And if you’re just starting out as a freelancer and need to market your business from scratch – God help you.

But whether you’ve been freelancing for a while or are just starting out, the absolutely worst part is not knowing how to market your freelance business.

Where do you start? Who do you talk to? What do you do?

It’s all so overwhelming!

Which is why I asked 21 successful female entrepreneurs in the industry to share their most actionable marketing tips. These are women I’ve admired for a long time for their business acumen and marketing smarts.

They’ve taught me most of what I know about running an online business and they’ve all helped my business in one way or the other. Some by giving excellent advice on their blogs and newsletters, and others by giving me advice or an opportunity when I needed them most.

Below, these amazing women have shared marketing tactics that worked for them and did wonder for their respective businesses.
[Read more…]