Do Beginner's Charge?
by Brian S. Konradt of BSK Communications
Commercial freelance writers who have recently gathered enough
experience to write for businesses and industries usually charge their
first clients between $25 and $35+ per hour for their time — and from
that point slowly and steadily increase their salary, seeking bigger and
better projects and clients.
Rarely do they — and absolutely should not — charge less for their
time or work for free once they commit themselves as being established
commercial freelance writers.
But what if you're a beginner to commercial freelance writing and you
have not yet gotten a client? Everything in this area is new to you. How
can you possibly go after a client and charge $25 or more per hour for
your time? Most likely you can't — and it's because you're a beginner.
A beginner is someone who has little experience freelance writing for
the commercial industry (and probably has never done it before) and is
not sure what type of writing services to offer, what to charge, and how
to get his or her first client. If you're new to commercial freelance
writing, you're probably frustrated, bewildered, and anxious to get
started. But to get to the point of getting your first client and being
able to charge $25 an hour, there are two steps that you must follow.
The two steps are:
1) to get experience and 2) to establish connections.
news is that you can get experience and establish connections at the same
time — and all of this can be done in your hometown. Getting
experience will help increase your skills and awareness about what
writing services you'd like to offer, what you're specialty will be,
working with clients, meeting deadlines, developing writing skills to
create various types of copy, and running a business. As a beginner, you
will probably work for free as you gather experience. There is nothing
wrong with this. I always say, "Experience is the solid foundation
on which you'll build your successful business upon."
Establishing connections will help you meet other people who might be
interested in your writing services or know people who would be. For
example, by doing free volunteer work for an organization (as I had
first done), you'll not only gather samples and credentials, but you'll
also be networking with other people who may have an interest in your
Beginner's Luck Or What?
Freelance writer Joseph Kessler got his first client as a result of
volunteering his time writing press releases and creating brochures for
a local organization. His volunteer work helped flesh out his writing
talents, work with people, meet deadlines, and find solutions to
The director of the organization was impressed with his work and, after
a couple of months, she happily referred him to her corporate boss.
Kessler's first paying assignment was to provide copy for an eight panel
brochure — (an overwhelming project at that time, he says) — that
would be used to promote a new health spa.
He charged a low-level beginner's rate of $15 an hour. Looking back on
the experience, he says he should have charged at least $35 an hour —
or better yet, $650 for the entire project. After this project, he
committed himself to charging no less than $25 for his time. That was
five years ago. What does he charge today? $50 an hour. "It's what
my time is worth," he says.
The most common way a beginning freelance writer gets his first client
is via networking; that is, establishing connections. You can already
guess how most beginners get their second clients: as a referral from
their first clients. If this sounds so simplistic, it's because it is!