Dear WordCount: A writer launching a new blog approached me about doing social media research. She wants me to find the top 10 bloggers in a particular subject she can contact to help promote the blog. What’s a fair bid for this kind of work? I figure it could take 2-3 hours to find bloggers, determine how popular they are through various rankings, and develop the list. Does $300 seem reasonable, or should I go higher? It suspect that if things go well it could lead to other work. – C.A.
Congrats on the social media research gig. As for how much to charge, your plan of attack – looking up popular bloggers via Alexa, BlogRank, etc. – sounds reasonable. I would calculate how many hours you think it’s going to take, tack on 25 percent or 30 percent extra to cover any unexpected snags that you run into, and then multiply the hours by your typical hourly rate, whether that’s $50, $75, $100 or more.
That said, $300 seems fair – especially if you’re working for a new client who might throw more projects your way in the future. It might be slightly lower than what you’d normally charge, but think of it as a loss leader. If you take that route, just be sure that on future projects you’re charging your regular rate.
Social Media Pay Rates
To find out more about going rates, check out this social media jobs salary guide infographic from Onward Search. It spells out in more detail what the most in-demand jobs are and corresponding salary ranges in various parts of the country. For example, someone in San Francisco working full time as a social media specialist can expect to earn $45,000 to $70,000 a year, while someone with the same job in Austin can expect to make $32,000 to $50,000.
You can use that salary information as leverage in your own contract negotiations. Using the infographic, see what companies are paying full-time social media managers in your neck of the woods. Calculate what that job pays by the hour by finding the total number of work hours in a year (40 hours a week x 52 weeks in a year = 2,080) and dividing that by the salary. If the salary is $60,000, for example, that works out to roughly $29/hour. That doesn’t include benefits and other perks that full-time employees get, which can equal a third or more of a salary. It also doesn’t take into account your overhead, which could add another 10 to 20 percent. Add those to the base hourly rate, and you’re looking at $43.50. Remember when I suggested adding 30 percent to account for unforeseen circumstances? Do that, and the base hourly rate increases to about $57. With that information in hand, you have a better idea of what to ask for in contract negotiations.
One thing that I’d say to the writer who wants you to do blogging or social media management work. It’s a nice to be able to afford to hire someone to manage your blogging and social media presence, which some people call ghost blogging or ghost tweeting. But they HAVE to understand how to use Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and the like themselves, in order to get blog post ideas, track what’s going on in the subject, etc.
Maybe you can sell them on some social media coaching as part of the services you offer.
Dear WordCount is a weekly advice column answering your questions about writing, blogging and running a freelance business. Send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.