Setting your corporate writing rate

[Excerpt from Everything You Wanted to Know about Freelance Writing –]

When it comes to setting rates for the corporate market, you have to know the following:

– How much you want to gross per year
– What your time is worth
– What skills, ability, experience you bring to the table
– At what level you are working

What do I mean by “at what level”? When it comes to corporate communications, there is a rate hierarchy. From top to bottom, it goes something like this: strategic planner, consultant, project manager, writer, researcher, editor, and proofreader. I’m sure editors and proofreaders would disagree. And I know we need them (or that I need them). But that rate hierarchy is there. …

For the most part, writers write. It’s possible that as a writer you will give advice, make suggestions, give the client options, help develop strategies, and move the project forward. However, primarily you write and revise. That’s what you charge for. But if the client asks for more (part of your job when quoting is to define—in consultation with the client—your role), you also ask for more.

How much do you charge?
There is no one right answer. I know many writers. They charge anywhere from $35 to $250 an hour. They charge anywhere from $.50 to $5 per word. You determine what you are worth and/or what a job is worth, and set a rate. Of course, if you want to charge $250 per hour, then you have to find clients willing to pay that rate—which is not an impossible task.

Once you set your rate, you negotiate with prospects based on that rate. When negotiating, you choose whether there will be any give and take. But take before you give.

Still find yourself saying, “Yes, but… How much do I charge?” 

How many billable hours do you think you can work per day? Billable hours do not include functions such as market research, marketing, invoicing, filing, or paying your taxes. That you do on your own nickel. With that in mind, let’s say you work, on average, four  billable hours per day, five days per week, 50 weeks per year. Some days you may work more; some days you may work less. But let’s say you average four billable hours per day.

Here is the billable hours formula:

Billable hours per day x 5 = billable hours per week
Billable hours per week x 50 = billable hours per year
Billable hours per year x hourly rate = gross income

Plug in an hourly rate and you know how much you can earn, gross (before expenses and taxes), per year. Let’s say you plug in $50 per hour:

4 hours/day x 5 days/week x 50 weeks/year x $50/hour = $50,000/year.

Plug in $100 per hour, and you will earn $100,000 per year—as long as you work four billable hours per day, five days per week, 50 weeks per year. You could charge more and still work four billable hours per day, five days per week, 50 weeks per year. You could charge more (or less) and work more (or fewer) hours. That all depends on how well you market yourself and on the nature of the clients you acquire.

If you are just getting started, you might find it difficult to come up with $50 or $100 per hour gigs, especially if you are selling your services to small businesses or under-funded not-for-profit organizations. If you have been doing corporate work for a year or more, $50 per hour should be your absolute rock bottom rate. Take $50 per-hour clients only if you have no other work to do. In fact, you might be better off investing time looking for better-paying clients.

Some writers I know charge $100 or more per hour, but offer small businesses and non-profit organizations a discount, as I have done. However, when I invoice the client, I put my full rate on the invoice and then add the discount. It helps me demonstrate and maintain my value. It also helps me boost my rate after working with the client for a while.

Would it be nice if the corporate world paid one rate for writers so we wouldn’t have to figure out what to charge? If that rate was set at $100 per hour, the writers who earn $250 per hour wouldn’t think it was such a hot idea. So think about you, what you offer, and how much you want or need to earn. Set your hourly rate and look for clients who can pay it.


[Excerpt from Everything You Wanted to Know about Freelance Writing –]

3 thoughts on “Setting your corporate writing rate

  1. Pingback: Things I Got Wrong This Week - Relevant Wit

  2. Pingback: Accurately Pricing Writing Services | Everything You Wanted to Know about Freelance Writing

  3. Pingback: What to charge for your writing

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