I've been freelance writing since 2017, and let me just say, it's been a ride!
I was able to trade in my 9-5 and start freelancing full-time in a little over a year. While I'd call that a win, I'd be lying if I said I didn't make a lot of mistakes as a freelance writer in my early days. (Spoiler: I still do on occasion!) One of those mistakes was how I priced my freelance services.
Here's a story to put it into perspective:
One of my clients introduced me to an acquaintance at a marketing agency he sometimes consults for. While I wasn't looking for work at the time, I was excited to make the connection. I emailed over a few samples and let her know I was available if she ever needed a copywriter.
About a week later, she emailed me on behalf of a friend who needed writing done. In the email, she asked what my hourly rate was. This is where I made a mistake. Rather than listening to my instincts and first asking what the project entailed, I told her.
Guess what? She never emailed me back.
To be fair, I'm not surprised. Here's why.
Even though I followed up my hourly rate with a disclaimer, this potential client was totally hung up on my hourly rate. While my hourly rate is fair and I have many clients who agree, I don't blame her! $75/hour is a big investment and seeing that number alone didn't provide any context as to the value she would get from working with me.
Was she the right client for me? Maybe not, but if I had approached the situation differently, it may have had a different outcome.
Instead of telling her my hourly rate right off the bat, I should have started with more questions about the project like:
- What type of copy/content is the client looking for?
- What is the scope of the project?
- Is this a one time project? If so, what is the desired deadline?
- If this is an ongoing project, what is the frequency? (Weekly, monthly, etc.)
With a clear understanding of what the project entailed, I could have given her a quote based on the project as a whole. Why would this have mattered? Getting a client to agree to a quote comes down to the perceived value of the completed work.
Quoting Work by the Project Will Win You More Work
Rather than telling a potential client what your hourly rate is, quote your price on a per-project basis. Quoting a client based on the cost of the project as a whole can make the price seem like the best investment. If your hourly rate is perceived as too high, the client may not see the value in paying that much for your work. Some clients may even wonder if you're prolonging the project to increase its costs, which can negatively impact your credibility.
Let's say a potential client reached out about writing a blog post for their website. Your normal rate is $80/hour and based on the client's information, you estimate it will take you two hours to complete. When you give the potential client a quote, you can do it one of two ways.
Quoting the project with your hourly rate:
Quoting the project as a whole:
Both quotes equal the same amount, right?
While that's true, each will impact a potential client differently. With the first quote, the client may get hung up on your hour hourly rate. Understandably, $80/hour is a lot of money and can cause the client to question the value.
Note: This is not to say your hourly rate is too high. Yes, your rate does need to to be realistic but it's also important to know how much your time/service is worth.
In comparison, quoting a fixed rate for the same project can do the opposite. Rather than getting sidetracked by your hourly rate, the client is seeing the project as a whole.
By not quoting the project with an hourly rate, your client will stop looking at TIME and start looking at VALUE.
How to Quote Per Project
The most important part of quoting per project is knowing your ideal hourly rate and having a general idea of how much time goes into completing a specific task.
There are several factors that go into calculating your ideal rate and the first step is to identify those factors. To help you get started, I've put together a free workbook that teaches you how to calculate your ideal rate.
Once you've calculated your hourly rate, you can start to quote by the project. In order to do that effectively, you need to know how to estimate how long a project will take to complete. For example, if you know it takes you an average of 2 hours to write and edit a 1,000-word blog post, that will be your baseline when quoting a project.
Other questions to ask yourself when quoting a project include:
- How much research will you need to do?
- How long will it take you to write and edit your work?
- Will you be required to find images that correspond with the topic?
Knowing your ideal hourly rate, how long it takes you to complete tasks, and asking the client the right questions will help you to efficiently quote based on individual projects.
Still, it's important to keep in mind not every project goes according to plan. What seems like a straight-forward project may be a little more complicated than you thought.
P.S. Don't forget to grab your free workbook! 👇🏼
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