I still remember the very first article I wrote. It was a guide for the ski resort of Ischgl, an 870-word masterpiece of travel writing. At least, that’s what it should have been considering it took me the best part of an entire Sunday to write.
It wasn’t terrible nor was it great but it was the first time I got paid to write, and the $15 I made cramped over an Acer tablet with a crappy Bluetooth keyboard was the best money I ever earned.
I know what you’re thinking. $15 for 870 words, a Sunday lost forever, cramped shoulders, and a pain in my back; what the hell did I have to be happy about?
Well, it’s simple, I had just taken the first steps on my journey to becoming a full-time writer, and I knew it.
My $15 start
I never actually looked for a writing job, one kind of found me. I was teaching full-time and supporting a family of three, and although I enjoyed my work, I knew that the only future I had in teaching a bunch of kids English was another year of teaching a bunch of kids English.
I needed an out, and as luck would have it, an old school friend found me on Facebook, saw that I was teaching and asked if I’d ever thought about writing. Long story short, he hired me for his travel company writing SEO articles for $15 a pop.
I spent about six months writing post after post on anything and everything ski-related. I even had a few bylines saying I was an accomplished ski-boarder (disclaimer – I’ve never been on a ski slope in my life!) And at the end of those six long hard months I had exactly what I needed to further my writing career; a fleshed out portfolio.
Admittedly, this was in the days of writing for search engines, so some of those posts read like a keyword addled mess. But I did have experience, and in turn, confidence which led me to apply for any job I could find on job boards such the one on Problogger.
That time I doubled my rates
Thinking I was the Don at this point, I DOUBLED my rates to a whopping $30. Little did I know that it was this ridiculously cheap rate and not my extensive ski-resort portfolio that was landing me jobs with agencies left, right, and centre.
“$30 per 1000 words you say? I think we might be able to work together” was the most common reply I got to my emails. And understandably so. My writing was good and well researched, and I always delivered on time. Why wouldn’t they want to hire me?
Unfortunately, I was working my fingers to the bone and making very little money, and if I’m completely honest, I thought that I wasn’t ready to step into the big leagues where writers got 3-figure fees for one blog post.
Yes, it seems laughable now, but I really was that green for a long time.
My big revelation
During this time I was eager to learn more and so I joined a few Facebook groups, and Steve Roller’s Copywriter Café was the one that had the most effect on me.
Here was a group of people that wanted to help and didn’t laugh at me when I asked stupid questions. I was still a little in awe of these pro-writers as most had years of experience writing sales copy and all kinds of stuff I had yet to try.
But that all changed when a guy named Ed Estlow introduced me to a book called ‘Breaking the Time Barrier.’ It was available as a free download on Freshbooks, and so I downloaded it and devoured it in double-quick time.
Now this book is about charging for value as opposed to the time you spend on a project, and that got me thinking about my work. I wasn’t charging per hour, so that wasn’t relevant to me, but neither was I charging for the true value of the content I produced.
My mindset changed in a flash.
I needed to charge what the content was worth to the client.
Let me give you an example.
Before I had my big revelation, I had a well-known client in the UK men’s fashion industry. I did a series of blog posts for them that saw their online sales coming directly from the blog jump from around $1000 a month to over $10k a month. They pat me on the back, gave me lots of praise, and I basked in the glory of a job well done.
But that series of four blog posts over the course of a month cost the client only $120, yet they brought in over $10k. When I think about it now, I realise how naive I was to not even consider bumping my rates up.
Of course, that changed once I read ‘Breaking the Time Barrier’ which was just a few short months later. I immediately set my blog post rates at $150 minimum and have never looked back since.
But the thing is, nothing about my writing or work ethic had changed. I simply changed my mindset. I no longer felt like an employee eager to please my boss client, I was now offering a service at a set rate indicative of the value my work brought to the table.
To say it was a gamechanger is a bit of an understatement.
Each year since I have increased my rates and I now routinely write posts for around $300. I am not, however, averse to writing for less and still have a few agencies that I write for each month. It’s regular work, and it’s good to have something to fall back on.
But what about your rates?
Now the big question is, what are you charging your clients and are you happy with it? Truth be told, it’s a confusing topic, and the advice coming at you from all angles makes it all the more difficult.
Some say charge per hour.
Others say charge by the word.
While there are those that tell you it’s all about the project fee.
For this reason, we decided that it was about time someone created a resource that writers like yourself could refer to when setting their rates. A resource that didn’t offer fees set in stone but gave base rates and a reasonable range that you could set your rates within.
So we created The Freelance Writer’s Pricing Guide 2018.
If you’d like a free copy just pop your email in the form below and we’ll send you a download link.
Have a look through the guide and let us know what you think in the comments below. We hope to make this an annual release so any feedback you give us will be put to good use.
By the way, I did mention it’s free, right?