Re: Freelancing Fees

Subject: Re: Freelancing Fees
From: Peter Kent <76711 -dot- 2557 -at- COMPUSERVE -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 16 Feb 1996 10:38:06 EST

>>Richard Farley said: <rtfarley -at- IX -dot- NETCOM -dot- COM>
After years of the corporate world I am entering the freelancing arena. Can
any of you good folks give me some suggestions on establishing realistic fee
schedules? Are there any good books on the business of tech. writing you can
point me towards?<<

Richard,

the problem with freelancing fees is that they are all over the place. A recent
STC salary survey in the Rocky Mt. area found writers charging anywhere from
$6/hour to $110/hour. 82% were charging by the hour, 27% were charging by the
project. (Yes, I know this is 109%, but I think some people said they used both
methods or something.)

More importantly, though, what about actual net incomes? I figure that somewhere
around 1% of freelancers are making over $100,000. The survey I mentioned found
four people making between $100,000 and $124,999, and one person making between
$125,000 and $149,999, out of 71 responses--. That seems consistent with other
surveys I've looked at. The problem is these high figures usually don't appear
on surveys, as they are hidden in the averages and medians.

The survey also found 11 people making from $75,000 to $ 99,999. So almost 23%
are over $75,000.

I know some making $150,000, and one who says he grossed almost $200,000 last
year. Most are making somewhere between $40,000 and $75,000, but they could be
making more if they knew how to sell themselves (and realized how much that 1%
to 2% is making!)

As for setting your rates, that's something that comes from experience. There
are no hard and fast rules. If you are confident and have good sales ability,
you'll be able to ask for a higher rate than someone who doesn't know how to
sell. (There are no "union rates!") You'll start off low, and slowly push the
rates up. If you want to go over $100,000, though, you'll almost certainly have
to start bidding by the project and not by the hour. I do know of some hourly
rates that have been high enough to go over $100,000, but in most areas you
won't find many of those jobs. I like to aim for an hourly rate of $100-$135. If
I ask a client for that, they'll laugh me out of the interview. So their are two
ways to earn that much per hour. You can do what many freelancers do--lie. They
state one rate and bill for more hours than they work. (No, I'm not suggesting
you do this, only that many writers do.) Or you can bill by the project.

Talk to as many freelancers in your area and ask how much you can charge for
your services. (You are doing this to find the lowest rate you should ask, by
the way, because most writers won't realize how much they can earn.) Then
gradually work your way up from there.

Good luck,

Peter Kent


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