The Business Side of Freelance Writing

The First Draft

Article by Wendy McCance

I have written several articles on freelance writing.  I have written about How to Find Writing Jobs as a New Freelance Writer, Tips on Having a Successful Writing Career and Being Prepared Before You Get That First Writing Job.  What I haven’t written about is the business side of a freelance writing career.  What needs to be in place and what maintenance needs to be done as your business grows.

When you get an inquiry about doing an assignment, there are several things that you need to have ready to go.

1.  You should have a pricing guide.  Think of all of the different types of assignments that you are comfortable handling and set a price for each of the projects you are willing to work on.

If you are unsure of pricing, The Writer’s Digest is a wonderful book to have on hand. The book has pages of information about rates in the low, medium and high categories.  You can find everything you need from a simple article to writing a press release or even ghost writing a book.  When I started my writing career, the book was invaluable.  It still is to this day.

 2.  You will need to have a contract template ready to go.   Then, all you need to do is fill out the client information and project details.  A great place to get a free contract template is at: http://www.entrepreneur.com/formnet/marketingforms.html or you can try:  http://www.tidyforms.com/press-release-template.html

If you don’t see what you are looking for google “writing contract template”.  You should never have to pay for a template.  There are a variety of templates that can be used for quotes, proposals and billing statements as well.

note: Please keep in mind that a contract is a legal document and you should always check with a lawyer before using the contract you have created.  If you are using a contract, you will want it to stand up in court in case you aren’t paid.  Using a lawyer to go over the document is the only way you can be assured that what you submit to the client will be legally binding.

3.  Know your terms for payment.  Some writers will charge a retainer fee of half of the project fee paid up front.  Other writers will charge their fee at the end of each step in a project, and still other writers will charge their fee when the entire project is completed.

Decide what feels most comfortable for you.  You probably aren’t going to want to charge all of your fee at the end of a lengthy project.  I use a step program for long assignments. The steps are outlined and I get paid each time a step is completed.  The client is happy because the payments are more manageable and they don’t pay until they are happy with the completed portion.  It helps me out as well.  I don’t have to worry about investing too much time without seeing a payment.

4.  Determine how long it will take to do a given project.  Consider conference calls, meetings and research.  Equate that into your price and make sure the client understands it will be included.

5.  Keep track of your mileage.  You will need to write down mileage for meetings because you can deduct it off of your taxes when you file.  Write the date, who you are meeting and the address of the place you are going.  You can map quest the route to get the amount of miles you drove.

6.  Keep track of any supplies you need for your business.  Keep a receipt and a log of the items you bought.  Keep phone and internet bills as well.  You might also be able to deduct those items on your taxes.

note:  Please speak with your accountant to see what can and can’t be deducted.  Because I am not an accountant, I can only throw out suggestions, but can’t legally assure you that each item can be deducted.  It all depends on your personal circumstances.  Your accountant should have some additional ideas of what you should keep track of for deduction purposes.

7.  Keep a list of potential clients.  A chart tends to work best.  Make sure you write in the prospects name, address, phone number, email, company and when you connected with them.  Have a note section to write in what was discussed, when they might be willing to do a project and any other information you find relevant.  each month, check back and go over the list so you can follow-up with an email or phone call.

8.  Keep a list of clients that you are working with.  Use a chart to write in the name, address, phone number, email, company, date you started working, project details and any relevant notes.

9.  Make up some business cards and carry them with you at all times.  Even if you leave them in your car, it’s good to have them available.  You never know when you will meet someone who is considering working with you.

10.  Finally, read!!!  Read often to stay on top of the latest information.  The more you read, the more you know.  The more you know, the more success you will have.

Oh yeah, one more thing.  I wish I had found a writer’s site that showed their price list.  I have actually put my own price list on a page for you to view.  This is the actual price list I use.  Hopefully it will help you in determining what items you would like on your own list and how much you might want to charge.

Just go to the here: http://www.searchingforthehappiness.com/pricing-chart/ to see my pricing guide.  Hope you find this information helpful.

Wendy McCance

Wendy McCance is a Michigan based freelance writer and social media consultant. Wendy has gained attention as the founder of the popular blog Searching for the Happiness which can be viewed in 9 local papers online, including the Oakland Press. The combination of writing skills and social media knowledge is what makes Wendy such a powerhouse to work with. Stay tuned for opportunities to advertise, guest post and as always, have your questions answered.

To contact Wendy McCance about a writing or social media assignment, interview or speaking engagement, please email her at: mccance.wendy@gmail.com

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11 thoughts on “The Business Side of Freelance Writing

  1. Thanks for very good advice! On my behalf I would like to add one more point: List the hours you use for any particular job. Then, at the end you can calculate, how much per hour you have made. It is very educative.

  2. Starting a new business can be very daunting and many of the little things can get lost in the shuffle. This is a great checklist of things that any business owner needs to have. 🙂

  3. Good list! There are a lot of details, especially when starting out, and it can get a little overwhelming . . . the golden rule so far has been “Keep Everything” and it’s served me well.

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