Have you ever had a client ask what forms of freelance writer payment you accept? Do you list them on your website so that clients know up front which ones are available to them? You have several options available and by offering more choices, you may be able to increase your client base.
Most freelancers have run into the dreaded scope creep at some point during their careers. It occurs when you start working on a project that you think is going to encompass one set of parameters and then what is expected of you starts growing beyond your original understanding. If the client ask for a minor change to something, your first response may be to deal with it and move on, especially if you have had a good working relationship so far. But what do you do when you continue to get requests to “add this” and “change that” and “I wonder if you could….”.
Here’s a scenario that most, if not all, freelance writers who have been working for a while are familiar with: you start communicating with a prospective client and discussing a project. It sounds like something you would be interested in taking on, and you can fit it into your schedule without too much difficulty. So far, so good. Everything seems is lining up really well. Then either you or the client brings up the subject of the budget for the project and how you will be paid. You are asked to give a quote, now that you know the scope of the project – are you better off telling the client that you will be billing by the hour or by project?
Any time the question of freelance writer rates comes up, a heated discussion rapidly ensues. No doubt there are many different opinions about whether it is appropriate to post rates on your website for potential clients (and your competition) to see, or if you are better off inviting your clients to contact you for a quote instead. We’re going to examine different options so that you can decide which will work best for your business.
As business owners, freelance writers need billing software programs that make invoicing an easy process. You also need to be able to send late-payment reminders, track time and expenses, and see how your business is growing month-to-month and over the year.
As business owners, freelancers must always keep one eye firmly on their expenses to stay profitable. When you are busy and have cash available, it can be tempting to want to spend money to upgrade your office fixtures or software, or invest in other items. Do weigh out each purchase carefully to ensure that it makes sense for you and your business before you reach into your pocket.
Taxes are a fact of life for freelancers and while you can’t get away from having to deal with them, you can make the process run a little more smoothly. E-filing your taxes is a convenient way to look after this necessary task.
Another shocking statistic:
76% of companies do *not* have any form of conversion optimization… and 48% believe they have zero control over conversion.
I think that is ridiculous.
Conversions are one of the few things you do control. Unlike most marketing efforts – which require third-party sites like Google or Twitter – conversion exists on your site, which puts you in 100% control of your destiny.
But can you improve conversions? Absolutely.
Here’s how… [Read more…]
There is perhaps no other topic in the freelance writing world that generates more controversy than the concept of writers writing for free. Bring it up and lines in invisible sand are drawn, commenting spikes and in the case of Harlan Ellison, a few F-bombs are dropped.
It’s understandable. Shady publishers and editors prey on vunerable writers who want to see their names in print. Writers are constantly burned by “write for free now and earn later” promises in which “later” never comes.
However, in the angry buzz of the debate something gets lost. Choice and education. There will always be writers who consider using their talent without traditional compensation. Instead of helping writers make informed decisions, we as a community often take the abstinence-only approach – IT’S WRONG, NEVER DO IT.
Is it really free?
The first step to weighing a work-for-free option is to look at whether the project has any compensation opportunities. Writers work in exchange for items and services all the time. A little web content work in exchange for a new website. A little PR work in exchange for lessons from a yoga studio.
Just be sure that you follow three simple rules when bartering services:
- Set clear boundaries. Define the services you will provide and the services or products you expect in return. This prevents misunderstandings and keeps either party from taking advantage of the “freebie” situation.
- Determine cost. It should be expected that your standard rates are used for services you provide.
- Put it in writing. This is not only helpful for tax and business record purposes, it makes the transaction official and binding.
Is it for the greater good?
Wielding a hammer may not be some people’s idea of how they want to volunteer, but wielding a keyboard may feel just right. Providing writing services to help a charity or organization is a good thing. Sweating over a keyboard or a hot stove both take time and effort and each can be a great help to someone in need.
Are you prepared for the lack of payoff?
Writing for exposure. *Sigh* That’s a tricky one. Certain publications swear by it, but when their blog only reaches 12 people and four of those are family members, the “exposure” doesn’t help a writer one bit. Then you have the Huffington Post model: huge reach and definite opportunities for exposure. However, when the publication makes a deal for a large sum of money, whether it’s for advertising or through the sale of the blog, there will be writers who feel slighted when left out of the monetary windfall.
There is, of course, the possibility that exposure may never come. Before you get into an “exposure” deal,
- Use metrics to define success. How many blog hits, how many subsequent work requests, book sales, etc.
- Recognize and get comfortable with not being able to eat, spend or pay bills with exposure. Exposure has to translate into dollars through other avenues to be successful.
- Have a time limit and exit strategy. Give the exposure enough time to produce results, but have an end date in place if it doesn’t show signs of panning out.
Can you afford to do it?
Whether working in exchange for goods and services, as a volunteer or for “exposure,” carefully weigh the costs of the commitment. There are time costs, including time away from other business-growing opportunities, i.e. querying, working on gigs for other clients, etc. There are also actual costs: electricity, Internet, the standard writing rate… This is one of those tough choices that a writer has to make from a business perspective, especially if the project will be ongoing.
Most of the time I’m against writing for free. It distracts writers from doing things that can both further their careers and enable them to pay bills. Writing for experience can be accomplished while making money – don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. There are, however, situations in which free can work out for writers though they are not as common as “job” listings would have you believe. It’s a personal, business decision that should be made with research and with realistic expectations.
Have you written for “free?” Why or why not? What other things should writers consider when weighing a non-traditional pay option?
There have been many advances in the field of freelance writing over the last few years: for most publications it is no longer necessary to send in an SASE (self-addressed stamped envelope) query; electronic payments outpace snail mail checks; social media has made it easier to connect to other writers and editors, etc.
The business side of freelance writing has gotten easier with more online applications streamlining mundane tasks many writers loathe. Shoeboxed is one great app that moves shoeboxes full of receipts out of the closet and into cyberspace.