So you’ve got your resume and your portfolio together, and you’ve checked out the freelancing scene. Maybe you’ve even joined a freelancing website that will serve as your “desk”. Now you are looking around and noticing that different freelancers charge different prices for certain services. You’ve also noticed that there are hourly contracts and fixed rate contracts. Before you can go any further, you need to determine how to price your services as a freelancer, whether you plan to work as a writer, website designer, customer service representative, or in some other capacity.
Fixed Rate Contracts and Hourly Contracts
Employers usually pay in one of two ways: fixed rate contracts or hourly contracts. Fixed rate contracts are where you would bid a flat rate for performing a specific task. For writing, this usually means a certain number of pieces by a certain deadline. Hourly contracts are a lot like a regular job. You work on a schedule, and get paid by the hour. Most freelance writers have a preference between the two, but that doesn’t mean you have to. For example, if you build websites, you might prefer to bid on a job that is a fixed rate for one job, but find another opening that is offering an hourly rate that you just can’t turn down.
Some Observations on Contracts
-Fixed rate contracts are not as schedule-oriented. If you are a night owl and prefer to work certain hours or at a certain pace this may be the way for you to go.
-Hourly contracts, like regular jobs, usually have a cap, or a limit to the number of hours you can work on a project. This also requires that you keep good notes and carefully log your hours.
-Fixed rate contracts are at the employer’s discretion. You will need to ask careful questions about what the employer expects and needs from you. If they are not satisfied with the end result then you may not get paid, and you will have little recourse. Some sites offer an escrow option that holds the funds for the project until you are finished and the employer is pleased with the work. If the employer doesn’t want to pay for any reason, some sites offer arbitration services, but not all sites do.
- Keep in mind that unlike with hourly contracts where the employer checks in frequently and evaluates your work regularly, fixed rate contracts involve a lot more independent work.
Charging By the Job
It is not uncommon for a freelancer to charge for a particular service being performed. For example, many freelance writers will charge a flat rate for a certain number of words. A 300 word article will be a little less than a 500 word article, so on and so forth. It is a good idea to calculate a flat rate for your pieces by the word count, but not to set them in stone. If an employer wants to give you a whole bunch of work, but is only willing to pay slightly less per article than what you would normally charge, it may be more beneficial for you to work with them on the word count rate and make up for it with the volume of work you will be performing.
Bringing It All Together
Think of freelancing like any other job. When you first start out you might make a little less money, or not have the ideal “shift” for you. Freelance work isn’t any different. After you have spent time working on a variety of contracts and developed a good professional standing with your employers then you may begin to charge a little more for your services. It all comes down to the amount of experience you have and the kind of professional relationships you develop.
Employers are paying for quality, not quantity. For instance, an employer will pay more for a functional website than one that doesn’t have the bells and whistles he is looking for. If you are writing, even if you can turn out 5,000 words a day, they had better be 5,000 good words, and not mediocre work. It is better to take more time and submit high quality work than it is to flood your employer’s inbox with so-so work. Freelancing is like any other job out there; you get back what you put into it.