Ask Me Anything: Networking for Clients and Setting Rates

Kristina Viera asks,

How do you know what to charge?

Deciding how to price your work is one of the hardest part of freelancing. There are so many different factors that can affect your price — your own experience, your location, what type of clients you’re interested in working with — that it’s impossible to say that you should be charging X dollars per hour.

That said, here’s how I came up with my price. First of all, I calculated how much I needed to make per month to cover all of my bills (and I was very pessimistic about that number, assuming big bills). I then padded that number so that I would have something put in savings, as well as enough to cover unexpected emergencies. Then I doubled it — yep, doubled it — for taxes. I’m not in a tax bracket where I’m paying 50 percent of what I make to the IRS and neither are most freelance writers, but when you add in state taxes and any county or municipal taxes you may have, it can come close.

From there, I assumed that I could work 30 billable hours a week (based on having administrative tasks that would eat up about two hours a day) or 120 hours per month. I divided the amount of money I needed to make per month by that number. It was an odd number, with plenty of decimals, so I rounded it up.

Even if you aren’t freelancing full-time, I’d recommend basing your rate on the same calculations. That way, if you find yourself freelancing full-time, you won’t have to immediately raise your rates (and therefore run the risk of losing existing clients).

Leslie Joy asks,

How do you turn networking contacts into clients?

I take networking pretty seriously. I come home from events with stacks of business cards, often with scribbled notes on who I talked to and what I talked to them about. I sit down after meeting someone new and add their email information into Gist. Because I try to end every introduction with some sort of offer to email my new contact (“I’ll give you the name of the tool I use,” “Let me send you a blog post I found on that topic,” etc.), I can immediately follow up with something deeper than “It was nice to meet you yesterday.” It’s important to be helpful and talk more about the contact than yourself. Unless a contact specifically asks me to send my rates and information about my business, I tend not to. I’ve found that building a relationship where I’m not immediately asking for something pays off better in the long run.

Usually, I’ll get a response back. From there, I continue the conversation. If an opportunity to talk about any of my projects comes up, I do so. The goal is to get contacts to think of you as a good connection overall, as well as a great freelancer. That way, they’re more likely to come to you when they have a project.

Have a question about the business side of freelance writing? Send it my way and I’ll answer it here next week!

3 Comments

  1. AndreaVLewis   •  

    As someone who is dipping her toe in the freelance waters in both the advertising and writing rivers, this post provides some great advice in terms of setting rates. Thanks so much for sharing! =]

  2. thursday   •     Author

    @Andrea, Always glad to help. If you have any questions as you build your freelancing business, send your questions my way. I’m happy to answer them here and you never know who else has similar questions!

  3. Pingback: Ask Me Anything: Rates, Cold-Calling and Contracts

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