Adding On to Your Base Rates: Sources of Additional Freelance Writing Income

When you walk into a car dealership to buy a new car, you’re thinking in terms of a set price. But the salesman is thinking in terms of what he can add on to that base rate: heated seats, an extended warranty and all those other add-ons that you’re offered before you actually get around to buying the car. There’s a reason they think that way: it can make a single sale more lucrative.

Thinking in terms of add-ons can also work for freelance writers. For most of us, projects are a matter of quoting a base rate and then finishing it. I’m not suggesting some sort of back-and-forth with your clients, but offering a few additional options on top of a basic estimate can make both your bank account and your client happier.

  • A ghost blogger can offer to find and resize photos for posts.
  • An article writer can offer to put together a sidebar.
  • A copy writer can offer to format text for the web with HTML.

To make this approach particularly useful, sit down with the lists of the services you already offer as a matter of course. Think about all the extra touches that would make it easier for your clients to make use of your work. If you need to diagram it out, do so: for each service, you can probably think of at least two or three additional steps. It’s best to set prices for these services on the stop, pegging them to your existing rates.

From there, you can make a habit of mentioning such options as you send out estimates. If you use templates to handle some of the routine parts of communicating with a client, work up a couple of paragraphs to add to your estimate templates.

This sort of thing doesn’t need to be a hard sell. Instead, it’s a matter of suggesting solutions to problems a client may not have even thought of yet. While not following the example of that car salesman willing to play hard ball may not bring in quite as much money, you may be pleasantly surprised by clients making use of the add-ons you offer.


  1. Jamie   •  

    These are great tips! Thanks for sharing them!

  2. Pingback: Freelance Friday - Project Management Tools, Haggling, & Committment | Kristi Hines

  3. Susan Johnston   •  

    Good suggestions, Thursday. Journalists who can create multimedia treatments for their stories (like podcasts or short videos) are also in a good position. The only problem is that with all these options, some clients or editors are *expecting* these add-ons as part of the regular price, which means we’re doing more work for the same amount of money. For instance, I’ve heard several writers say that their editors do not include sidebars in the assigned word count, but they expect a sidebar all the same. And they’re not budgeting for the extra words. I’d be careful about expectations to avoid these kinds of situations.

  4. thursday   •     Author

    @Susan, You have an excellent point. There are some times when I’d say it’s worthwhile to go ahead and write that sidebar without additional payment, but most of the time, I’ll pass on projects where those add-ons don’t bring any extra payment.

    It’s a tough call, but I think my work has value and I expect my clients to think the same way.

  5. Susan Johnston   •  

    If I’d already agreed to the assignment, I’d write the sidebar, too. Not worth making a stink over 100 or so words, but I’d be more careful with that editor/publication in future.

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