Even though providing a quote for a new project may be a regular part of running a successful freelance medical writing business, it can be one of the most difficult tasks we freelancers have to do.
Not because the task itself is onerous, but because, as a professional group, we offer such a wide range of hourly rates and there isn’t yet an industry standard.
Our freelance pricing strategies differ tremendously. While new freelance health writers might feel compelled to under quote their services when they’re first starting out, even the most experienced health writers may be uncertain how to quote. Quoting effectively involves understanding the pros and cons of hourly rates versus fixed fees. So here are some key considerations when you’re quoting for your projects.
How will you quote: Hourly or project?
Some writers prefer to charge by the hour, while others prefer to quote for the project as a whole. While it can be a personal preference, one of the biggest challenges for estimating an amount depends on your medical writing efficiency.
It may take you a few hours to complete a project, while other writers may take a full day to complete the same task.
So if you feel charging per hour may disadvantage you, consider charging per project.
What do health & medical writers charge per hour?
Health and medical writers can charge anywhere from $50-$200/hour – but getting your clients to pay your rate is another step altogether in the quoting process.
A quick calculation
If you are quoting for an entire medical writing project, you will need to accurately determine how many hours it will take to complete the project. Obviously, the quickest and most basic way to work out how much to quote is to calculate the number of hours the project will take you to complete and multiply by your hourly rate.
When you’re assessing how much time you’ll need to complete the project, you may need to consider whether you will be charging for any preparatory work – in addition to the writing itself. This could include:
- Travel time, including petrol and parking costs
- Time it may take to interview medical experts
- Time spent on related correspondence, either via email or telephone
- Background reading and research time
- Transcription time of audio or video recordings
- Sourcing images
- Any charges for revisions
There may be other costs depending on the type of health or medical writing project you’re working on – for example purchasing journal articles – and it’s important to be upfront with your clients about these costs from the beginning – which leads in nicely to the next point for consideration.
Open up a dialogue with your client
Rather than sending an estimate to your client based on an approximate calculation and waiting for confirmation, don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and chat with your client about their budget or limitations.
This can work in your favour for many reasons. You may be under quoting without realising how much your client has budgeted for, and regular phone calls also helps build rapport with your clients. If you’re professional and open, your client will appreciate the effort you have invested in preparing your quote and will probably be more receptive to your estimate. Plus, you’re more likely to be able to sell yourself as the ideal writer for the job in a real-life conversation.
Should you reduce your rates?
If your client can’t afford to pay your rate, consider the benefits of making an exception and reducing your rates. There may be future work down the track the client can keep you mind for if they are happy with the quality of your writing, and it may even lead to referrals from other clients. Client satisfaction and word of mouth really has no comparable price!
Talk to the industry about your medical writing projects
Your local professional bodies and associations often have a wealth of online resources available for members to download. Online forums are another great way to find out how other health writers are quoting new projects. You may find colleagues who are very open, honest and willing to share their experiences and perhaps in the process you can start a dialogue about this unspoken topic.
Do you have any other techniques you use to quote your health writing projects?