Accurately Pricing Writing Services

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

Note: See companion post: Setting your corporate writing rate –

Before you quote on a project, you need to define the scope of the project. To do this, you have to ask the client a number of questions:
1. When does the project start?
2. When is the project due?
3. What am I expected to produce (the deliverable)?
4. Who will I work with as the primary point person?
5. Will I need to attend meetings to discuss this project? If so, how many, how long, and where will they be held?
6. How many people will I have to interview? By phone or in person?
7. What kind of and volume of background research do you expect me to review? What other research is required?
8. What is the word count?
9. What is the approval process?
10. Who pushes documents through the approval process?
11. How many revisions do you expect?
12. Do you need soft copy (computer files) and/or hard copy (paper)?
13. What file format(s) do you need the files in?
14. Who takes it to the next step (design, printing, distribution, media contact, follow-up, video production…)?
15. Will I be working with that person?

When the client asks you for a quote, take a deep breath and say, “When do you need the quote?” In other words, don’t quote during the conversation. Take an hour; take 24 hours before you issue your quote. …

Get back to the client with the quote, based on the complexity of the job. Generally speaking, look at how many hours you believe you will spend on the job and multiply that by your hourly rate … Don’t quote less than the amount you think a particular job is worth.

There is one other somewhat nebulous factor to consider. An important marketing piece, one that will help your client generate revenue, is more valuable to your client than a price list with short product descriptions. Writing copy for a TV ad that has high production values (costs) is more valuable to your client than short biographies of corporate executives. Writing copy for a reply to a request for a quote is more valuable to your client than an internal document announcing new human resources policies and procedure. With that in mind, before you quote, consider the nature and scope of the job, your hourly rate, and the impact your work may have on the company’s bottom line. Then issue your quote.

If you deliver your quote verbally, follow up with an email message so all the details are in writing. The client may also want to send you a contract or purchase order that outlines the details of the project. Review it and make sure it conforms to what you understand to be the scope of the project.

Conclude any quotes with, “The quote is based on the details we discussed. Any additional writing, meetings, revisions, and interviews beyond what we discussed will be extra. I will advise you if the work has moved beyond the scope of the job as we have defined it.” Use whatever words you are comfortable with, but make sure the client knows you are a professional who expects to be paid for the work you do, and that you will ask to be compensated for work that goes beyond the scope of the original project.

Estimating a writing job

Use the following chart to help you estimate a quote for a writing job. The more quotes you issue, the more you should trust your gut when it comes to coming up with a quote figure. At the same time, it doesn’t hurt to be methodical in your approach to quoting. That helps your gut have an accurate instinctive reaction.

In short, be as accurate as you can be when estimating how much time it will take you to complete a writing job, but don’t sweat the minutes. You will become more accurate over time, with practice.

Stages of Work Estimated Hours
1. Initial briefing/meeting
2. Transcribe meeting notes, if required
3. Read background material
4. Interview sources
5. Other research/meetings
6. Organize research material
7. Write document outline
8. Consult with client and amend outline
9. Write first draft
10. Polish first draft
11. Consult with client
12. Revise, revise, revise
13. Work with photographer/designer
14. Write titles and/or picture cut lines
15. Edit/proof

With all the above in mind, decide on how much should you quote. I know this might all sound a tad vague, but you are doing this work so you can charge your clients a fair rate and so that you will be paid a fair price. Again, the more you do this, the better (and faster) you will become at it. And then, if you land the gig at your quoted rate, you might find yourself thinking, I could have quoted a higher rate! Maybe. Maybe not. The fact is, if you go through the process outlined here, both you and your client should be happy with the rate. And if you are both happy with the rate and you do a great job, then you could find yourself in a long-term relationship with a client. And that is a good place to be.

What if…?

Here are a few other quote-related What ifs? for you to ponder.
– What if you issue a firm quote based on 10 hours of work and it takes 15 (and the scope of the job has not changed)? Live and learn. Next time you will quote more accurately.
– What if it only takes eight hours to complete the job? Treat yourself to lunch. (Do not offer the client a refund!)
– What if you’ve agreed to one revision and the client asks for a second one? If it’s a major revision, especially if the scope of the project has changed, it’s time to speak frankly. If it’s a case of cleaning up a few minor details and you sense the possibility of repeat business, give the client a freebie.

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


One thought on “Accurately Pricing Writing Services

  1. Pingback: Can you become a freelance writer? Quick test will let you know. | Everything You Wanted to Know about Freelance Writing

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