How much should a freelancer charge?

“What rate should I ask for?” is the most common question we get asked at The Collective by copywriters, art directors or designers. How much to charge for your freelance services is the million dollar question – of course asking for a million that might be excessive.

The answer to setting freelancer rates is that it depends on your experience and expertise, but mostly on the market.

You should charge what other freelancers are charging and price yourself similarly. People often judge quality based on price.

If you’re a new freelance copywriter it can be quite nerve-racking to set your price. You don’t want to be seen to be cheap and you don’t want to price yourself out of the market. The quick and best way is to ask other freelancers you know who do the same work. If you don’t know any you should make friends quickly as they can help you in many other ways. They will usually tell you their rate because a) they don’t want you to undercut them and b) they don’t want you to earn more than them.

How to charge? By the word, hour or day?

It depends on the type of work and the country. In England for example, if you have to work onsite in an agency they will want a day rate. Whereas in Holland freelancer rates are often quoted as an hourly rate. The hourly rate usually works out better for the freelancer because it can be a long day! You can also charge more per hour for evening and weekend work.

How much to quote for a project?

If you’re working offsite and have been asked to quote for a brochure or website, then it’s important to get a full-written brief and the source material before you quote. The first few times you quote you’ll get it wrong, trial and error is the only way to learn. After a while you will have a rough idea of how long each webpage or brochure page takes to research and write. Think how much you’d like, think how much you would like to get, decide on a number and stick by it. Usually people don’t negotiate back, they think you know what you’re talking about.

Should I charge for travel time?

You should ask 50% of your normal fee for extraordinary travel time. If it’s just going to and from the office every day you can’t ask it, but if you have to fly or drive a long way with the agency for a short meeting with the client, and that travel time was time you would otherwise have spent working on your other clients, then it’s fair to invoice travel time. But always quote before so the agency is aware of it, and don’t surprise them afterwards. You can also agree travel costs in advance as well. Your freelance agent should take care of this for you if you have one.

Freelance Switch offers a calculator to help you understand how much you need to earn as a freelancer, which is useful to know. Though that helps you determine how hard you need to work, not how much you can charge. The best way is to just give it a go. But remember, once you’ve set a rate with a client or an agency it’s very difficult to raise it for the next job, so start high!

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