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Goal Setting Rituals for Freelance Writers & Copywriters.
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Articles on Freelance Writing Success
- Bob Bly
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- Nick Usborne
- Ed Gandia
- Pete Savage
- John Riddle
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- Clayton Makepeace
- Steve Slaunwhite
- Michael Masterson
- Chris Marlow
- Roger C. Parker
- Marcia Yudkin
- Michael Stelzner
- Brian Tracy
by Nick Usborne
There are all kinds of ways to charge for freelance writing and copywriting jobs.
If you are writing articles for print media, you’ll probably get paid by the word.
But if you are working as a freelance copywriter and writing a brochure, a sales letter, a web page or anything else, you’ll usually end up billing by the job or by the hour.
If you bill by the job it’s because you will have negotiated a fixed fee before you got started. For instance, you might have agreed to charge $750 to rewrite a web page.
In that situation, you get paid the same amount, regardless of whether the job takes you three hours or eight hours.
Clients often prefer a fixed estimate like this, because there is a certainty about the total of the final invoice.
For the copywriter, estimating a fixed fee in advance can be a little unnerving, simply because unless you know your client very well, and know accurately how much time various types of jobs will take you, you can end up losing money if the job takes longer than you had anticipated.
And yes, you really will be losing money.
When you agree to do a job for $500, because you think you can get it done in five hours, it feels like a reasonable deal. But when the job actually takes you ten hours instead of five, your hourly income on that job drops to just half.
If you had estimated more accurately at the beginning, maybe you could have negotiated a higher fee.
Always keep in mind that as a freelancer your total annual income is limited by the hours you work, and the amount you can charge per hour.
By the job or by the hour, it’s the same thing.
When you are charging by the job, the fee you ask for is going to be based, in large part, on how long you think the job will take you.
So you try to gauge how many hours you’ll need, and then add a few extra hours for unforeseen changes. You then multiply the number of hours by your hourly rate.
At this point you may look at the figure and, through experience with a particular client, or just by gut feelings, you may think it is a little too high, or too low...and change it accordingly.
But at the outset, with estimating any job, you start with how many hours the job will take.
How to keep track of your hours...
You need to keep good records of the time you spend on each job. And there is more to this than simply making a note of the total hours you spend actually writing.
Break it down like this:
- Time spent on administration
- Time spent on research
- Time spent on writing
Do this for each and every job.
Under administration, you add the time spent on phone calls and emails. Also the time you spend on setting up the project, time keeping and invoicing.
Under research, you estimate the time it will take you to thoroughly research the topic before you actually start writing.
Under writing, you estimate the actual writing time, and include some extra hours in anticipation of having to make revisions and corrections.
The benefits of accurate time-keeping
When you take time-keeping seriously you will be in a much better position to estimate jobs more accurately.
In fact, there are a few key benefits here:
1. More accurate estimates for new jobs, whether you bill by the hour or by the job.
2. Reduced likelihood of under-estimating on future jobs and losing money on the time spent.
3. Increased professionalism in the eyes of your clients, who will appreciate that there is no uncertainty or hesitation in your estimates.
In other words, good time-keeping habits will ensure that you make the money you deserve, and will help build your reputation as a true freelance professional.
NOTE: To increase your productivity as a writer, follow the 5 rituals I lay out in my guide for writers, Writing Rituals. Learn more at the Writing Rituals web site...
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