Writers and Editors (Pat McNees's blog)
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How to set your prices as a freelancer or consultant

April 1, 2012

Tags: fees, rates, pricing, freelance rates, per diem

(Updated 11-13-14) How much does an editor earn? What can a writer make? What is the range on proofreading fees? Should I charge by the project, by the hour or day, or by the word or page?
"How much should I charge? ask writers and editors." The answer: That depends (among other things) on
• how good, how fast, and how reliable you are ("Cost. Quality. Speed. Pick any two.")
• how rare or specialized your set of skills (how valued the hairdresser who knows just how to do your hair)
• how deep or specialized your knowledge of the subject (and audience)
• what the market will bear, which varies regionally and by industry (book publishing is dirt cheap)
• how much the client can afford
• how easy you are to work with.

You can learn a great deal from the many following pieces (and books) on how much to charge, and whether to charge by the project, by the hour or day, or by the word or page?
• How Much Should I Charge for My Freelance Services? (Lifehacker 8-17-11)
• Ghostwriter (Wikipedia--see section on Remuneration and Credits, credits being a factor in pricing on collaborations)
• Pricing 101:How To Increase Your Income with Three-Tiered Pricing (Jake Jorgovan, Career Foundry, 11-13-14) "Clients don’t care if it takes you 20 minutes or 20 hours to complete the project. Clients care that the work is done and it is done well."
• How much should I charge? By the hour or by the project? (Allena Tapia, About.com) There is also "per diem."
• How much should I charge? (Lynn Wasnak, NJ Creatives Network, 2011). Lynn provides ranges of fees for various types of work
• How Much Should I Charge? (Lynn Wasnak, Writers Market, PDF of easy-to-read chart, based on summary of 2005-2006 fees)
• Freelance Fee Setting: Quick Guide for When a Client Demands a Price NOW (Kindle edition, 2012) by Laurie Lewis, author of What to Charge: Pricing Strategies for Freelancers and Consultants (see below)
• Tip of the Week: What a Copyeditor Earns (Erin Brenner, Copyediting, 3-13-12). Includes rates for Content Development & Management, 2012, copyediting rates, 2012.
• Tip of the Week: More Copyeditor Earn Rates (Brenner, Copyediting, 3-20-12). Discusses rates in England, Ireland, and Canada.
• Common editorial rates (Editorial Freelancers Association), and common pace of editing, too. Rates are on the low side, reflecting the low rates book publishing traditionally pays--now more than ever.
• Bay Areas Editors' Forum (PDF, summary of results from 2005 member survey of rates and types of work done)
• How to Charge: By the Project, by the Hour, or by the Word or Page? (Katharine O'Moore-Klopf, KOK Edit, 1-24-11)
• Tips for Putting a Price on Your Work (Alina Tugend, New York Times, 1-27-12)
• Freelancers, Here's How To Set Your Rates (Laura Shin, Forbes, 10-27-14) "For instance, writers for content mills may earn as little as $15 a post, writers for esteemed magazines could earn $20,000 for a lengthy story, and some authors can receive millions for a book advance. Even for articles of the same length — say, 1,000 words — some outlets pay as little as $100 and others pay as much as $2,000 (or more)....Three factors will affect how much you can or should charge: Your budget, how good you are at what you do/the price you can fetch, and how much time you have."
• Freelancers, Here's How To Negotiate Raises With Clients (Laura Shin, Forbes, 10-27-14) Track your time. Compare the per-hour rates of various projects and clients. Analyze the spreadsheet to see if there are any clients that could pay more. Use your numbers to negotiate yourself a higher rate. Analyze your time spent to see if you can become more efficient. See if it makes sense for you to outsource any tasks. With examples.
• Graphic Artist's Guild Handbook of Pricing and Ethical Guidelines (13th edition, free when you join the Guild
• How to Set Rates FAQ (HTML Writers Guild, but principles applicable to all entrepreneurs). See also, from the same group: Discussing prices (HTML Writers' Guild FAQ, explaining the organization's rules against discussing prices online, in view of federal regulations against price-fixing)
• The Designer's Guide To Marketing And Pricing: How To Win Clients And What To Charge Them by Ilise Benun and Peleq Top
• Services and fees at Story Circle Editorial Circle (affiliated with Story Circle Network, by, for, and about women)
• Freelance Fees Guide (National Union of Journalists, UK)
• SfEP suggested minimum freelance rates (Society for Editors and Proofreaders, UK)
• Pay rates for technical, business, and trade editing (Megan B. Wyatt, Suite101.com, 8-23-09). Average payment for medical, science and corporate editors (the ones who get paid a decent amount, by contrast with those who work in trade book publishing)
• Thinking About Money: What Freelancers Need to Understand. How to calculate your effective hourly rate, or EHR (American Editor, 10-6-10)
• How to Set Your Copywriting Fees and Earn What You’re Worth (Dean Rieck, Men With Pens). Many comments!
• What to Charge: Pricing Strategies for Freelancers and Consultants, interview with Laurie Lewis for National Association of Independent Writers and Editors
• What to Charge: Pricing Strategies for Freelancers and Consultants by Laurie Lewis (a book about pricing as part of a career strategy, not just a job strategy--solid practical advice and templates)
• Go Ahead, Raise Your Business's Prices (Jason Fried, Inc., 11-1-10). "Sure, some customers will complain, and others might take their business elsewhere. But there’s a good chance you don’t want those kinds of customers, anyway."
• Ghostwriting Prices (Writers for Hire, with fee range on the low side--the ghostwriters of bestsellers are paid more than that)
• Professional Genealogy: A Manual for Researchers, Writers, Editors, Lecturers, and Librarians . Read chapters 9 (Structuring a Business) and 10 (Set Realistic Fees)
• Avoid Pricing and Discounting Mistakes (Karyn Greenstreet, Self-Employed Success, 2-14-13)
• Pricing strategies and cost factors (Encyclopedia of Business)
• What to charge and how to get it (Walt Kania, The Freelancery) See various pieces on website. "...instead of quoting $400, make it $435. It sounds more rational, more acceptable, as if it’s based on something. Instead of quoting $1000 (made up) say $1280. More money, but more reasonable to clients.”ricing?
• Seth Godin's pricing formula (S&S). Substitute & Story. Is there no good substitute for your product? Does your price tell a story?
• Pricing Strategies for Resume Writers (Resume Writers' Digest, 9-7-07)
• What to say to your low-balling clients (Laura Spencer, FreelanceFolder 9-3-09)
• Why should writers work for no pay? Contributors to the Huffington Post have begun to chafe at its no-pay policy. They could take a lesson from stand-up comedians who faced a similar insult in the 1970s. (Michael Walker, OpEd, Los Angeles Times, 4-1-11)
• Should I work for free? (Jessica Hische's amusing and realistic chart)
• When to work for nothing (Michelle Goodman, New York Times, Shifting Careers, 11-9-08)
• Per diem rates, U.S. Department of State. If you're estimating travel costs abroad, these might help.The foreign travel per diem allowances (which vary by country and within a country) provide for lodging, meals, and incidental expenses when an employee is on temporary duty overseas.
• Benchmarks for Estimating Editing Speed by David W. McClintock (originally published in Corrigo: Newsletter of the STC's Technical Editing SIG (June 2002), pp. 1, 3.
• How long does editing take? (Jean Weber Hollis, Technical Editors' Eyre: Resources for technical editors)

Organizations may not set or recommend rates (they can get in trouble for price-fixing), but many (such as EFA and ASJA) do member surveys of rates charged, fees earned, how difficult particular clients were (this can save you hours of grief, particularly regarding the "hassle factor" -- e.g., editors who don't know what they want, change their minds, or who must run everything through a committee which has a preconceived idea what the writer should be saying) and how slow a client is to pay).

The content on this topic also appears on this website (where it is regularly updated) as
How Much Should I Charge? What can a writer or editor expect? under Freelancing, contracting, telecommuting. Let me know if anything helpful is interesting. And feel free to comment below.

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