As a freelancer or copywriter, charging per hour rather than per word (or page) seems daunting – especially with projects that take up several weeks of your time. But, time is money. Here’s how to figure out which payment method is best:
Setting a Rate
Pricing yourself by the hour means considering: (1) how much work you average in an hour’s time, (2) how many hours you work in a week, (3) your expenses, and (4) what others are charging.
Use this Freelance Hourly Rate Calculator from All Indie Writers (http://allindiewriters.com/freelance-hourly-rate-calculator/) to help you calculate your rate. I started small, charging $10 an hour at first, then worked myself up to $25 when I suddenly realized I had more clients and less time. Experience matters. People will pay for it.
Charging per hour can benefit both you and your client. A 10,000-word project at 50 cents per word will run your client $5, 000, but at $20 per hour (assuming you go through 500 words per hour), it would be $400 (20 hours). You might also decide to go with per-hour because the final word count is unsure or you’re working within a time-frame.
I started charging per hour when singer-songwriter Rea le Roux came to me for a press release to announce the start of a new hip-hop dancing group to encourage the local youth. We couldn’t agree on a word count, and the piece had to be translated into Afrikaans. So, I charged per hour, for two hours of work: One hour of interviewing and research, and an hour of writing, translating and editing.
For you, charging per hour could make it easier to calculate (and reach) your goal salary: The more hours you put in, the better you can get paid.
Time: What factors into that measurement?
Time is money, but what is time? Think about what will factor into your per-hour charge beforehand: Time spent writing, editing and proofing are obvious, but what about your travel time and any additional research?
Account for weekends and off days: How many hours aren’t you working? Incorporate these when issuing quotes, progress reports and statements. You might also need more time, say, if you or your client ends up in the hospital, or if your laptop crashes. Both have happened to me.
Run a timer when actively working to include researching, writing and translating. Keep a list of what you did, when you did it, and how much time you put into it. Send this break-down to your client to show them what they are paying for.
Bathroom breaks, trips to the store, and feeding the cats aren’t deductible.
Be willing to negotiate, but decide beforehand how much room for negotiation you will allow, as you would negotiating for a car. You don’t want to be out-negotiated. In other words, know your budget.
What’s your type?
When you’re typing against the clock, speed matters. Learning to type quicker will save you time, too. Use Wapsilon.com to test and improve your typing speed; Typingstudy.com and Typingclub.com are great places to learn touch-typing, which can make you work faster, more effectively, giving you time for more clients.
Alex J Coyne is a South African-based freelance journalist and writer. His work has appeared in People Magazine, The Investor, Writers Write, The Penny Hoarder and Tafelberg’s horror anthology “Skrik op die lyf” (2015), among others.