I was watching an online training about freelancing a few weeks ago, and something the trainer said threw up a big red flag.
(By the way, sure I already knew most of what he had to say, but I’m always taking new trainings and watching webinars to pick up whatever new tactics are out there. I strongly encourage you to do the same.)
Anyway, this trainer was talking about how to price your services. He asked the studio audience how much they charge and then said, essentially,
“Okay now: Double it. And, once you get lots of clients at that rate, double it again.”
Double it again??
Wait a minute here. As a new copywriter, if you take this advice, you will price yourself right out of business.
I do agree that many service providers are undercharging for their expertise. And I do believe that you should command rates that are worthy of the value you provide.
But…as a new copywriter…your work just isn’t worth $150 an hour.
YET. Will it be eventually? If you keep working and getting experience and honing your skills? Absolutely.
But right now, within the first few years of your copywriting career, if you double and double your rate, you’re going to price yourself right out of business.
When you’re building your experience and your business you need to charge a reasonable rate. (For more about how to calculate your rate, check out this article.) Reasonable means that:
- It adequately compensates you for your time
- It’s a price that’s similar to the going market rate for your level of experience
- It’s a price that your level of clientele is willing to pay
It’s very easy to get squeamish about your rates and charge too little. Very easy. This is one of the biggest reasons that people “don’t make it” as a copywriter. They charge too little, or they charge by the word. (Read more about why that’s a huge mistake here.)
But you also can’t go too extraordinarily high over the going market rate for your level of expertise. If you’re new to copywriting and new copywriters generally make around $40 an hour in your city, no one’s going to hire you for $160 an hour.
(Or, if they do once, they’ll certainly never do it again.)
And remember, too, that your first clients are going to be local small business owners, then likely design shops, and then newer solopreneurs. It’s very probably that they simply can’t afford to pay you $160 per hour for a 15-hour project.
I have no problem with you trying to make as much as you can. In fact, I fully support it! Part of the reason I started this business and created our trainings was to help writers earn comfortable, even cushy, incomes.
But you have to be sure that your rates don’t price you right out of your career. Pricing your services may never be a comfortable subject for you. However, when you calculate what’s reasonable to charge, you have a good baseline to work with.
And then, later on when you’ve developed a great deal of expertise and built a robust portfolio of work, then you can think about doubling your rates. And doubling them again. 🙂
Your turn! What’s the trickiest part for you about calculating or telling new clients your rates? Let us know in the comments below!