What should I bid for my writing?
November 13, 2005 9:02 PM   Subscribe

What should I bid for my freelance writing project?

I recently landed a freelance project rewriting a graphic designer's web site. There are at least nine pages that should be rewritten; I'm guessing that they'll each include about 500 words. I'll need to interview the designer, meet with his team, and research some similar sites for ideas. I may also suggest some restructuring or additional pages.

When we spoke on the phone, I suggested $25 an hour, which he thought was reasonable. However, we'd both prefer a flat fee. He's committed to working with me, but I want to make sure my bid seems fair while making some much-needed cash. How long do you think a project like this would take? What would you bid?
posted by hamster to Work & Money (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Hamster, I don't know where you live, but in New York, you should most likely be charging more than $25/hr. I charge about three times that for similar services. You might begin with thinking about a good honest estimate for the actual hours you'll work on the writing itself, and present them with that estimate. I rarely charge clients for meeting time unless it's a crazy amount. Of course any time you imagine you'll spend reworking the structure of the site shold also be included.

For a project like yours, I would imagine I'd spend two days to a week, depending on how bad the existing content is and how much the site structure needed to be reworked.

Anyway, when you work for a flat fee, it should be at a premium, because you never know how many revisions the client will want. You should offer some average between the best and worst-case scenarios.
posted by lackutrol at 9:16 PM on November 13, 2005

i'm not a writer so i can't comment on how long the project will take or how much you should be charging, but as a part-time freelancer, i usually give them the estimate time i'll take to complete the project then give them the full estimate on cost based on your current understanding of the project size.

basically what this means is if you exceed the time you work on the project, you won't charge more - since it is you who underestimated the length you'll need for the project completion. however, if the designer ends up throwing in more work for you than you expected initially, then you'll get more $$.

again, make sure everything is in writing - i have had many nightmare clients who refused to pay for the work i had done for them in the past and i couldn't do anything about it because it wasn't in writing.
posted by grafholic at 9:23 PM on November 13, 2005

From experience, whatever you do, don't underbid. Most clients expect to be charged a certain amount, and vendors who underbid by a lot are thought to be underestimating the work and do not get the contract.
posted by Rothko at 9:30 PM on November 13, 2005

Whatever your estimate of the time involved is, double it. There's your flat fee.

But seriously, flat fee for what? Working until the client is happy? What if the client is never happy?

You really need a detailed brief.

How about something like:

* 1 week's work
* meeting with client at which client gets to suggest changes
* 2 days more work on changes if required
* second meeting with the client at which changes are reviewed
* one more day/re-write if required

and if the client still isn't happy, it's pretty much the client's fault at that point. They get to keep what you've done already and if they want still more work, you start again with a new brief.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 9:56 PM on November 13, 2005

Response by poster: Thanks for the advice... I wound up bidding $1,600 for the project, which I estimate will take about 40 hours of work. Lackutrol, I work in the upper Midwest, but I'm fairly green (less than three years' professional experience), and right now I need to compete on price, especially with smaller clients. There's a strong possibility that this collaboration will lead to future work, in which case I plan to raise rates to about $40/hour. When I worked in marketing our pros charged about $60-75/hour, but I think I'll need a stronger portfolio and more experience before I'm there.

We did sign a contract complete with stipulations about terms of payment; thanks for the advice on that. I learned the hard way to get everything in writing once before--the major appeal of this client was that he pushed for a contract early in the hiring process.
posted by hamster at 1:02 PM on November 14, 2005

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