Determining the best freelance pricing strategies is one of the most difficult aspects of being a freelance writer. Do you need a rate card? What are the pros and cons of hourly rates versus project fees?
Quoting, like many aspects of freelance writing, is a mindset – and, it’s not about charging as much as humanly possible.
Of course, as a professional health and medical writer, you deserve to get paid an industry-standard rate for your work.
But, you don’t have to charge an excessive amount because you can or have seen others doing so. In fact, charging too much could be detrimental to your work prospects and professional reputation in the long run.
Remember: Your rate is not a key selling point
Don’t use your rate alone to demonstrate your skills and level of expertise.
If you tell potential clients that you charge $200 per hour without any context, thinking that it will imply experience and impress them into working with you, you could be making a bad first impression.
If you know that you charge less than other writers, does that mean you do a worse job? No, it means you are competitive and recognise the benefits of being flexible with your rate.
Clients value your benefits – that is, how you can help them achieve their goals. This is what you’re selling. Learn what a client needs, determine whether you can help them, sell your unique journey, skills and experience – then discuss your rate.
What should you charge?
There are three main freelance pricing strategies you can use:
- Hourly – eg $75-250+ per hour
- Per item – eg $250-400+ per blog post/article
- Per project – this is useful if you are quoting for a large project like website copywriting or a series of articles.
Even if you always charge a project fee, having an hourly rate is helpful as it gives you a base for your quotes.
Hourly rates for health & medical writers range from $75-250+, but most health writers I know charge around $100 per hour (plus GST).
That’s a huge range, and I know that it’s not helpful for someone who is starting out.
But it’s important to remember that the quoting process isn’t just about telling a client what your fee is.
There’s an art and science to effective quoting – and, it involves being flexible and ‘reading’ your client to determine the strategy that will resonate.Over the past decade, I’ve experimented with many different freelance pricing strategies and tactics. Here are the two main approaches that have helped me to secure my gold-standard clients.
#1 Include discounts for clients with long-term potential
If you see potential long-term work with a new client, work out a reasonable fee that works for both of you.
I reduce my rate if I foresee a long-term relationship because I won’t then have to pay for:
- pitching and winning the job
- understanding the client’s tone of voice
- re-getting to know a client.
Plus, we become friends, they refer more work to me and I feel like I’m an important member of their team.
Most of my clients are not one-off projects. I aim to work with people who are keen to form long-term relationships that last for months and ideally years.
#2 Adjust your rate based on the amount of background work required
It can be tricky having a strict per-item fee, like a blog or article fee, because one client may have done all the background research while another needs you to do it all.
Requirements gathering is the most important part of a writing job and it can take even longer than the writing process. If you don’t have to do a lot of background research, your rate will be lower.
Some clients give you a 15-page brief, while others give you a one-word theme.
Clients appreciate the value you are giving them when you acknowledge that you won’t have to do all the work if they have already done some.
Similarly, my rate will be different if I know all about the topic versus if everything is new to me because I don’t need to spend as much time researching if I already know about it.
Other freelance pricing strategies that have helped me secure writing work
Here are my other effective freelance pricing strategies you can try when you’re quoting for writing jobs:
- Offer discounts for upfront payment – or payment before a certain date, such as the end of the financial year
- Ask directly what a client’s budget is – if you can work out what their maximum is, you may decide to be a bit flexible on the fee if you really want the job
- Be clear about what’s included in your fee – you are not charging $400 for a blog, you’re charging $400 for background research, expert interviewing, writing, editing, proofreading, two rounds of revisions, ongoing client communication, content adhering to industry standards and best practices, etc
- Sell the value of working with you – clients are paying for your unique skills and experience, the inherent value that only you can provide; emphasise this (having a niche helps you win more jobs)
- Pick up the phone and have a conversation – I can’t stress this enough! Having a chat builds instant rapport, helps you sell your skills and services, and enables you to understand what your client needs so you can work out if you’re the best person for the job.
According to Richard Branson, too many people still measure how successful they are by how much money they make. That’s what leads people to get greedy and overcharge for their services. But freelancing is a long-term venture, not a get-rich-quick scheme. The key to long-term success in our industry is understanding how to create value for money and offer exceptional customer service.
Have you tried any of these freelance pricing strategies?