One of the most common questions I see popping up in Facebook groups and other places where freelancers are interacting is about how to price their work.
The difficult response to this is: it depends. You’re not always going to be able to find a good way to price your work easily. There are so many different factors that go into pricing your work, including what a client is willing to pay as well as your individual background and experience.
Why Pricing Your Editing Work is Different
I usually tell freelancers not to charge hourly. However, editing is an exception. When you are editing, you don’t know how long it’s going to take you. One of the worst things you can do is quote a fixed price based on reviewing someone’s first sample chapter that seems like it is going to be okay, but it ends up taking you ten times as long. The first chapter isn’t always indicative of the rest of the editing work.
If you price your freelance editing work using an hourly rate, you will have some flexibility. You may have clients who want you to do more editing or less editing. It also depends on the quality of the work that they bring to you. Editing a book for somebody who doesn’t speak English as their first language is going to take an intensive amount of time; the best way to account for that is to charge on an hourly basis.
What You Need to Look At Before You Start Any Editing Project
When you use an hourly rate for your freelance editing, your client may say that they want a cap on it or you’re to let them know when you hit a certain number of hours. The client may still want some good insight into how long you think a particular piece will take.
I like to give people ranges so that they have an idea, and they don’t feel sticker shock when they receive an invoice for ten hours. Some clients just don’t have a good idea of how long it might take to edit something.
In order to get a better sense of this, you’re going to want to ask for a piece of what needs to be edited. If it’s a blog, you don’t really need to see too much. They might just send you one blog. If it’s larger pieces of content like whitepapers, academic papers, books, etc., you’re going to want at least a portion of it to see the quality of the work. You’ll also want to clarify upfront how many rounds of revisions or editing may be included.
Once you see a sample of the work, you can price your freelance editing work accordingly. Even on an hourly basis, work that requires a lot of fixes and changes is going to be more difficult to edit than something where you’re doing a copyediting pass.
Setting Your Hourly Rate
There are so many factors that go into choosing an hourly rate: your experience in the field, your expertise, if you’ve ever served in a professional writing or editing role before, if you have advanced degrees in journalism, communication, writing, things of that nature, that can boost your hourly income.
One of the best ways to figure out whether or not you are charging the right amount as a freelance editor is to start with a basic established rate for your first couple of projects. Then you can tweak it from there. Did you feel like this was fair after the fact? You can also evaluate people’s work and perhaps adjust your hourly rate based on how intense it’s going to be.
How should you price your freelance editing work? The simple answer is to do it on an hourly basis. I hope these tips help you as you launch your freelance career.
For more tips about a freelance writing and editing career and how to get started, subscribe to my YouTube channel, Freelance Freedom.
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