How To Charge More Than $10 Per Article — Part 2

By Dan Smith

[Editor’s note: when this was originally published there were still writers earning less than $10 for a piece of web content. Though I’d like to think that these days, your starting rate would be at least $50, the rest of the advice is still valid - Sharon]

This post is the second in the series, with the first part able to be found here — How To Charge More Than $10 Per Article — Part 1.

After reading last week’s post and implementing the points listed, you should have started to increase your popularity in the freelance writing community and feel like you have at least struck up a basic relationship with a number of freelance writers.

What you have to keep in mind is that the points in part one are there to help establish you in the community as a writer and although you should see some results in just seven days, it can take weeks or even months for you to get to the point where you’re particularly friendly with various writers and are known as a writer who comments regularly on various blogs.

Once you’ve got to this point and you feel like you’ve established yourself in the freelance writing community, it’s time to start increasing your rates.

Simply put, it takes a lot of bottle and guts to increase your rates, as although it’s opening up a whole new market to you, it means that you’re moving out of your comfort zone and this is why you need to feel confident and be well-known amongst other writers — the freelance writing community is an extremely friendly one and all you ever need to do if you’ve got a problem is ask.

When you get to the point where you want to take the jump, the following five points should help make the transition as smooth as possible.

1. Work out your next per article / per word rate

On some similar guides on how to increase your freelance writing rates, this step is often written as ‘work out your chosen per article / per word rate’.

Whilst it is recommended that you have an overall or ideal per article / per word rate in mind, what you have to understand is that no matter how good of a writer you are, you’ll find it particularly difficult to go from charging $10 per article to $100 per article in one go, as it’s likely that you’ll only have a minimal amount of writing experience at a level where you can charge $100 a piece.

Increasing your freelance writing rates needs to be something that is a progressive process and therefore rather than aiming for your ideal rate straight away, start by going from, for example, $10 per article to $20 per article and once you’ve gained experience at this level after a few months, increase your rates again.

The way I like to think of it is to set points every few months — or even after you’ve gained a certain number of clients — to review your rates.

For instance, if you’ve increased your rates to $15 per piece, after you’ve got half a dozen clients at this rate, increase your price to $18 for your next clients — if you find a lot of them say no, haggle back to $15; if a lot of them say yes, $18 now acts as your base level.

2. Be flexible with your existing clients

One of the primary concerns for a lot of writers who are looking to increase their rates is that as soon as they do, they’ll lose all of their existing clients, something that can understandably be worrying.

The simple way to remove this worry — or at least lower the level of worry — is to understand that you have to be flexible with your current clients.

It’s a given that you should approach the clients that you currently work with and inform them that you’re increasing your rates, though it’s important that you not only don’t just think if they don’t like your new rates, you’ll have to lose them as a client, but that if they don’t like your new rates, you’ll back down and write for them at your existing rate, something which completely defeats the object of contacting them.

The key point is to simply be as flexible as possible, taking into consideration the amount of work that they offer you on a weekly or monthly basis and how long they’ve been a client for.

I deliberated for weeks over whether or not to contact my biggest client of the time, as although I’d doubled my rates, I’d have been a lot worse off if they’d have said they couldn’t afford my new rates and decided to use a cheaper writer.

After some words of encouragement from another writer, I bit the bullet and contacted them.

Whilst they said they couldn’t accommodate what was effectively a 100% rise in the amount of money they were paying me on a monthly basis, we were able to negotiate a rise of an additional 50% of the existing rate — it wasn’t what I set out for, but it was definitely something that I was going to accept, especially as the conversation resulted in my workload from them doubling.

3. Publicize your rates on a dedicated business blog

In my previous post, I explained that you need to start blogging regularly for various reasons.

If the blog you set up wasn’t a dedicated business one, acting as a portfolio to showcase your services and past work, it’s strongly recommended that you set up this type of blog straight away.

Talking about everything to do with your work, it’s advisable to publicize your rates on your blog.

This point is one that’s discussed a lot in the freelance writing community, with a lot of writers preferring not to openly show their rates.

The reason why I do — and recommend that other writers do — is that it simply saves a lot of time, as people aren’t contacting you asking if you can write pieces for well below your rates.

Whilst this can seem like you’re segregating yourself a lot, as you’re effectively saying you won’t write for less than your stated rates, even if you will, the idea is to let people who are reading your blog know that there’s the opportunity to get a better rate if they contact you.

On my blog, for example, I explain that I’m more than happy to negotiate on the prices depending on the size or length of the project and I openly state that if you would like a tailored quote, you simply have to contact me.

This removes the likelihood of people contacting me asking for cheap work to be carried out, but also passes the message on to those clients are genuinely interested in having me write for them that there could be a discount available if they contact me.

4. Don’t discount any contact made from a potential client

An amalgamation of points two and three, something that I started doing when I first increased my rates and something which I continue to do today, it’s strongly advised that you don’t automatically discount any contact made from a potential client.

As mentioned above, flexibility is the key to succeeding as a writer when you’re in the process of increasing your rates and therefore if you get an e-mail or a phone call from a potential client asking you to write for them at $15 per article, even though you state that your rate is $25 and that the lowest you thought you’d accept would be $20, find out some more information about the project first.

For example, if it’s going to be a long term project, I always lower my rates as working freelance provides minimal financial stability, meaning if you can tie someone into a 12 month project, you should look to be as accommodating as you can be (obviously ensuring you remain above your old rate).

5. Have a contingency plan

When I made the jump and increased my freelance writing rates, I was lucky enough that for the most part, it went pretty smoothly. Most of my existing clients were happy to pay an increased rate and I didn’t have any major problems asking for my new rates when talking to potential clients.

Nevertheless, I had a contingency plan in place that I could fall back on should the whole process have went awry and this was in the form of content mills.

Do I like how content mills work? No, not really.

Do I recommend writers use them for a normal income? Not at all.

They do, however, have their uses.

I’m a massive believer that we all have to do what we have to do to survive. I’m not saying you have to do anything illegal here, but if you were working a 9 to 5 and you lost your job, you’d head out and take whatever work you could find if it meant keeping a roof over your head.

That’s exactly the same way as I viewed content mills at the time. I signed up to one of the most prominent ones, submitted an article to make sure I understood what it was they were after and that gave me the peace of mind to increase my rates, as I knew I could fall back on the content mill for money if need be.

This doesn’t have to be your contingency plan and it might be something completely different, but if you’re planning on increasing your freelance writing rates, I strongly suggest you have something in place to fall back on should the need arise.

Summary

Looking back on the time when I actually started to increase my rates, I think the most important quality to have is flexibility.

I never once had the train of thought that “Hey, I’m now charging $30 a piece — I wouldn’t accept $20 in a million years!” and was as open and as flexible to as many clients as I could be.

Increasing your rates and gaining work at your new rates can be a stressful and worrying time for any freelance writer, but it’s a process that any writer can follow and whilst we’ve covered how to establish yourself in the freelance writing community and how to actually increase your rates, I’ve got a few more posts on the subject coming up in the next few weeks.

Image: Leo Reynolds (Flickr)