Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Truth About Rates and freelancing.

Oh boy, I am tackling a tough writing subject today.   The next few posts, I will attempt to tackle the subject of freelancing.  Not only am I a freelance writer, but a freelance artist and designer.  I design the following:
·         Scrapbooks-both using the commercial albums that are out there, and making mini books, journals, and folios, as well as art journals.
·         Greeting and note cards
·         Alternative items.  In case you are wondering what that is, most people call it Upcycling.  It is where you decorate something to make it a different piece to function differently or function the same.
Anyway, that is the basics of what I do, but lately, I have been feeling a little stuck.  My Etsy shop has the same old 5 items in it and I have not written for someone in about 2-3 months.   You would think that I have gobs of money in my account.  Nope, ask me later on how I cope.  If you are freelancing, sometimes it is OK to hit a dry spell, right?  Not really.  If you are a writer, a cook, or a crafter, you need to remember that you need to put food on the table.  You have bills to pay, people to entertain (for those with kids), and it would be nice to not work in your jammies every once in a while. 
So how do you earn that extra $1,000 a week, if you still have a job, or if you going at it full time, have the ability to buy at least toothpaste?   Simple, start small.  Sometimes, you have to except projects that pay low or nothing at all, and you need to build from there.  That is what I am tackling for the next few posts and the first one is on the rate you expect your clients to pay you for your services.
I saw this article in Carol Tice’s website, and it is called 113 things you can do to grow your freelance writing-now.  She covers writing, but after looking at this article, I feel that it would apply to any freelance job.   Freelancing, in case you are not familiar with the title, is just a fancy way of saying, self-employed.  You are working for yourself.  You have a time clock, but it is in your head, and you can report to work any time you feel like it.  I do not recommend it, because just like a 9-5 job, the money you earn allows you freedom to do anything you want.  Well not anything, but you get the idea.
With that being said, she gives 3 these tips on rates:
  1. Tell your clients your rates are going up.
  2. Raise your rates for new clients.
  3. Raise your rates every year in the fall, to take effect the following year.
OK, you are probably telling me, “Tricia, that is all well and good, but I am just starting out, and besides that, I am doing a project for Aunt Millie, and I really do not want to charge her.”   I thought the same way, and if you are just starting, I can see why you do not want charge a lot for work at first.  For me, it is ok to do a project for Aunt Millie, the neighbor you have been friends with for 20 years, or your church, but at some point, you cannot do every project at low-no cost.   Again, you have to eat and pay bills.  There is also nothing wrong with bartering either, just as long as it is equal to the amount of services you give a client.
Upon my own research one of the problems that freelancers have is “what is my work worth to my client?”  This means are your skills top notch to the point of charging a rate to begin with?  That is something that you have to ask yourself.   Start by listing your skills.   I will use myself as a guide:
1.       Creative in
a.       Needle crafts
b.      Candle making
c.       Scrapbooking
d.      Card making
e.      Altering items
f.        An eye for detail
g.       Music
h.      Dance
i.         Journal making
j.        Writing
2.       People skills
a.       Good listener
b.      Follows directions well
c.       Investigator
I only listed a few, but note that I did not list just the physical skills, but things that would tell a new client what they need to know about me.   So, the things that you learned in Preschool and Kindergarten do matter.
Next, check out the rates of people who do the same thing.   In the corporate world, it is called checking out the competition.  If you are new to this, you can call to ask questions on how that person charges similar services.   For example, when I started, I checked everyone in custom scrapbooking.  I looked at their websites, and made note of the basic rates.  I looked at the years of experience, comments, and if they charged by the hour or per job.   Most custom scrapbookers and card makers charge by the piece.  Most writers charge per word.  For example:  an 8.5 x 11” scrapbook could run $7.50 per page.  So a 20-page scrapbook, without the fluff (no embellishments) can run about $150 (USD).  An example of a 791 page doc (the point where I typed 791), at $.10(USD) per word, could run a client $79.10.

Last, ask yourself, can I live off charging $150 for a scrapbook and $79.10 for a document, using the same examples?   Probably not, which is a good idea not to quit your day job just yet.  Keep in mind when charging your rates that there is no such thing as an overnight sensation.  You have to build up to the reputation, and that is why Ms. Tice suggest that you change your rates every fall to go into effect by January.  So how do you quit your day job?   Well, that is the next step in this process called freelancing, and the subject of my next post.

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