What To Charge if You Are a Freelancer: Advice from Laurie Lewis
A problem freelance writers and editors often have when clients approach them or they answer an ad is what to charge. If you're a freelancer, how much is your writing expertise worth? If you charge too much, you might lose the client. If you charge too little, then you are working for pennies and not paying your bills.
Luckily, we have a solution, and it's Laurie Lewis! She has written two books about this common problem. She is here with us today to tell us all about her books and how freelancers can use them to figure out what to charge or even to discover if your clients are offering you a fair fee for your work!
Even better, Laurie is giving away one copy of What to Charge: Pricing Strategies for Freelancers and Consultants! If you are interested in winning this book, in either print or digital form, then leave a comment or question below by Monday, February 6.
Here's a little about Laurie: she has enjoyed life as a freelance medical writer and editor since 1985. Her freelance business has been so successful that she can live comfortably in New York, one of the most expensive cities in the country. She has shared her expertise in editing and freelance fee setting in workshops and presentations from coast to coast. We are lucky enough to get to pick her brain right on The Muffin today!So, let's go.
WOW: Welcome, Laurie, to The Muffin. We are so glad you are here with us today to talk about your books. Your subject is one that many freelancers need to know. Tell us, who do you recommend should read What to Charge: Pricing Strategies for Freelancers and Consultants?
Laurie: Every freelancer, whether she is just starting out or has been in business for many years, will find What to Charge: Pricing Strategies for Freelancers and Consultants a useful, even an eye-opening book. I'm not being immodest. This is what readers have told me. I'm especially moved when I hear this from writers who have been freelancing for decades. They'll often say something like, "I wish I had this book when I started out;" or "Thanks to your strategies, my business has really taken off."
WOW: That's great news! No matter what your level of freelancing is, you can find value in this book. Why do you think freelancers have such a hard time knowing how much to charge?
Laurie: If you ask most freelance writers for a one-word definition of themselves, they'll say "writer," not "freelancer." We emphasize our interest and ability in putting words together, not in managing a business. Some freelancers are even surprised when you point out that freelancing is a business. Part of running a business, of course, is making money and figuring out what to charge.
WOW: You really know your audience. It sometimes takes us years to learn that writing is not just creative--you have to have a business mind, too. When a freelance writer or editor is applying for a job and the client wants them to quote a price, what are three things the freelancer should consider when preparing the quote?
Laurie: Funny you should ask that, because my new e-book, Freelance Fee Setting: Quick Guide for When a Client Demands a Price NOW, focuses on this very point: the three things freelancers should consider when pricing a job. The first thing a freelancer should do is to gather as much information as possible about the job. That includes nailing down the specifics of the job and finding out the going rate for this type of assignment. The second thing to consider is the pricing method. What will work best in this situation: an hourly fee, a project rate, or some other method? The final thing to have in mind before naming your price is your negotiating strategy. Too often when a client objects to a fee and suggests a lower price, the freelancer gives in immediately--not a good idea.
WOW: I always think, "My time is worth it!" But sometimes, I give in too easily, too. Thank you for pointing that out. There are probably several of us that need to hear that advice. Does your book actually tell freelancers what to charge, depending on the job or their experience?
Laurie: No, neither of my books gives freelancers the exact dollar figure to charge. That would be impossible because of all the variables. What to Charge, offers pricing strategies that help freelancers determine the best price for the circumstances. My little e-book, Freelance Fee Setting, guides the freelancer with lists of items to consider when pricing.
WOW: Sounds very helpful! Are things changing for freelancers because we are in the middle of a recession? How can freelancers still make a decent living?
Laurie: The recession has greatly affected freelancers. For one thing, the freelance pool has expanded tremendously with people who were laid off from staff jobs. The deepening of the pool, filled with new freelancers who are willing to work at any price, has resulted in lower rates and more competition for jobs. Fewer jobs are available because those who might hire freelancers are holding back to keep their budgets under control, often doing the work themselves or bringing in interns or others who will work for next to nothing.
Despite these forces, many freelancers are still making a decent living. Some with specialized niches are doing very well, although specialization can backfire if the industry segment is hard hit. Think financial writers. Freelancers willing to explore new avenues and expand beyond their usual area stand to do best in the recession. Isn't that entrepreneurial spirit what freelancing is about?
WOW: In other words, you may have to change with the times, but you can still have success! How does your e-book, Freelance Fee-Setting: Quick Guide for When a Client Demands a Price NOW, differ from your book, What to Charge?
Laurie: What to Charge: Pricing Strategies for Freelancers and Consultants covers the entire scope of freelance pricing: what to consider before quoting a fee, what to do while on the job, and how to analyze your pricing experience when the work is done. Freelance Fee Setting: Quick Guide for When a Client Demands a Price NOW looks only at the first part of the picture. I wrote it because I am often approached by panicky freelancers who need help pricing a job ASAP. They feel the client breathing down their necks. They need quick guidance, not an entire book on freelance pricing from A to Z. Freelance Fee Setting uses a quick-access format: questions, pros and cons lists, and bullet points. What to Charge is filled with detailed examples that illustrate pricing strategies and offers templates that freelancers can adapt to their own needs.
WOW: Thank you for that very clear explanation. I think Muffin readers will now know exactly which book will help them with their careers--or maybe they need both. Where can freelancers find your books?
Laurie: What to Charge: Pricing Strategies for Freelancers and Consultants is available in print and electronic format from online retailers, including Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Outskirts Press. Freelance Fee Setting: Quick Guide for When a Client Demands a Price NOW is available in electronic format only because a freelancer in need of quick help doesn't have time to wait for a print copy. It is debuting this month on Smashwords, which both sells directly to readers and distributes to vendors of all e-book devices.
WOW: Remember, Muffin readers, we are also giving a copy away of What to Charge: Pricing Strategies for Freelancers and Consultants. Anyone can enter to win the book by leaving a comment or question for Laurie below by Monday, February 6. We will randomly choose a winner on Tuesday, February 7 and post the winner here, in the comments section. Please include your e-mail address with your comment, so we can easily contact you.
Laurie, thank you for giving away a copy. Is there anything else you'd like to add to help freelancers?
Laurie: I could go on forever! But I know your readers are anxious to get back to their writing, so let's stop here.
WOW: Thank you, Laurie, for sharing your wisdom with us! I know these are two handbooks that freelancers NEED on their shelves--physical and electronic. (smiles)
Leave your comments and questions below for a chance to win. . .
interview by Margo L. Dill