This is the latest installment of Dear WordCount, an advice column that answers your questions about writing, blogging and running a freelance business.
A client is asking if I can produce 500-word articles they would post under their name for a trade association. Another client asked me to write and produce a four-page, monthly newsletter.
I’ve done straight up production work in years past and those costs are more definable for me. I have also written mostly analysis and technical books in the past that had fixed prices or were incorporated into a freelance contract. I am finding it challenging to price a la carte articles and newsletter work. I have done searches and found that, like many things, the answers depend on who you ask. The clients haven’t been helpful with establishing a baseline. I am reaching out to better inform my thought process and establish a point of reference. My thought is to charge $200 for a 500-word article, and for the newsletter, $1000 to setup the template and $300 to collect client material and edit each issue.
What do you think?
Great questions. For client #1 that wants you to ghostwrite 500-word articles they’d submit to a trade association: $200 for a 500-word article seems low, especially if you frequently write about their field. If you have accumulated industry expertise and are an experienced writer, you should be able to charge more. I don’t do a lot of marketing writing per se, but I have written for trade magaziness for years and know that the pay can range from .30 to $1.25 or higher per word.
My suggestion: have a bottom price in mind – something that jives with your hourly rate or your normal project rate. Then ask for about 50 percent more so you leave yourself room to negotiate. You didn’t say whether the client wants one article, five, 10 or one a month for the foreseeable future. If this job could turn into an ongoing gig, you might consider charging less – after all, ongoing work means less marketing for you and that’s worth at least a small discount.
While you’re negotiating, ask for a contract, and make sure it includes how many revisions you’ll do for the fee. $1 a word for ghostwriting a trade association magazine article sounds great until you’re on your fourth revision because they can’t make up their mind what they want the article to say. In my experience, one revision is standard. In a contract, spell out who will review your work and the turnaround time, so you’re not getting edited by committee and waiting weeks instead of days for them to get back to you (it happens).
For client #2 who wants the newsletter: $1,000 to set up a template sounds reasonable. But $300 per issue to research and write subsequent issues could be low. It really depends on the subjects to be covered, how much it would take to collect and write the material, if there will be standing columns or features (which I’d highly recommend to make it easier on yourself to write), etc.
If you could do all needed data collection and writing in a couple hours, $300 per issue ends up being pretty good. Do factor reviews and revisions into your production time, as well as any other PITA (pain in the a**) factors. Add 25 to 30 percent to that for unforeseen circumstances. Then multiply that amount by your standard hourly rate – and give them a discount for being an existing client if you want – and you should come up with a price that works. Again, you might want to bump it up slightly to leave yourself some wiggle room during negotiations.
Got a freelancing question? Send it to Dear WordCount at [email protected].