First Person: Calculating What My Time Is Really Worth

Yahoo Contributor Network

As a freelance writer I rarely price my work based on the amount of hours it takes me to complete it. That is partly because I can't be sure how long my creative process will take. Instead, I charge by the word, and that rate is based on the type of content I'm working on. Recently, a private client asked me to take on a project that would require a significant amount of work, so he wanted to contract me based on my hourly rate. Since I never charge by the hour I had no idea what my hourly rate should be. This is how I determined what my time is really worth.

The hours involved

Freelance writing is and endless job; the moment I complete one article I have to move on to the next. Whether that means researching a new topic, writing a piece, submitting an article, or one of the many other aspects of writing it's all very time-consuming. However, clients don't care what is involved in getting their content to completion, they only care about getting a quality piece on time and within their budget. I've been doing this long enough to know it takes me about 45 minutes per piece without distraction. Given all that I know I would charge one hour per article because that extra 15 minutes would cover the creative process, which a huge part of any written piece.

Calculating my hourly rate

I hadn't put much thought into my hourly rate, so I had to start from scratch. After doing some research, I decided the best way to go about it was to add the amount I earned for each of my last five articles and divide that number by five. Those articles ranged in price from $8 to $30 and totaled $88; the $88 was divided by five, which equals $17.60 an hour. This is my base hourly rate.

What I will actually charge

Now that I know what my base hourly rate should be I have to use that information to help me price my work. Not every job will be the same, so not every client will be charged the same hourly rate. For example, if the client needs a piece on a topic I'm well versed in it will take me less time to write it than it would something I have to spend a lot of time researching, so I would charge that client less per hour.

Now that I know what my time is really worth, it will be easier for me to advertise for and secure more private work, and in the end that means more potential profit.

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