Advertise your rates?

Subject: Advertise your rates?
From: "Geoff Hart" <geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca>
To: TECHWR-L -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com
Date: Fri, 22 Oct 1999 08:36:46 -0400

Michael (Schiesl?) wondered <<Would you independent
writers recommend advertising a flat rate (range of rates) for
your services, or would you recommend charging
by the project (w/o advertising any figures)? Which is more

Peter Kent's books on making a living in technical writing
(sorry, don't have the titles handy, but should
turn them up quickly) make an excellent introduction to this
subject. If you're going to freelance, buy the most recent
version and read it cover to cover; you won't agree with
everything he says, but you'll have a hard time arguing with
his logic and experience.

My personal feeling is that the Powers That Be aren't making
any more hours, so my hours cost a client the same whether
they want me to sit around and play video games or actually
do some writing. For that reason, I set a flat hourly rate,
which is the minimum I'll currently accept to stop doing
things I'd rather be doing, like playing hockey and watching
the fall leaves turn colors. Big caveat: if I really needed the
money and I was competing with someone else (or multiple
someone elses) for a job, that approach would be way too
rigid. Fortunately, neither usually in my case (since I'm a
wage slave, and my freelance income is gravy, not

<<Which yields a better response from customers? Which
results in a better working arrangement?>>

Customers obviously prefer a flat rate for the entire job,
because there are no surprises and because they often get a
far better total price (particularly if you were careless in your
estimates or in writing in additional fees for additional work).
If you have enough experience to estimate a project well, and
can pin down the customer to provide all the information and
reviews you need, on schedule, you can earn a much higher
hourly rate bidding on a fixed price. You can also lose lots of
money if you underestimate the time requirements and do a
lot of unpaid work because the client keeps changing things.

--Geoff Hart @8^{)} geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca (Pointe-Claire, Quebec)
"Perhaps there is something deep and profound behind all those sevens, something just calling out for us to discover it. But I
that it is only a pernicious, Pythagorean coincidence." George Miller, "The Magical Number Seven" (1956)

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