Breaking into Corporate Writing For Freelancers: Contracts & Rates

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If you are interested in corporate writing, read today's tip of the day from 102 Ways To Earn Money Writing 1,500 Words or Less by I.J. Schecter. Before accepting any writing assignment, you should know what your rate is and have a freelance writing contract ready for each client/project.

freelance writing | corporate writing

Determining Your Freelance Writing Rate

When your work is accepted by newspapers, magazines, or literary journals, you’ll have little say about what you’re paid. Once you become established, you’ll earn a bit of wiggle room when it comes to negotiating rates upward, but only a bit. For the most part, rates are set. But when you write for the corporate market, it’s you alone who determines what to quote for a given assignment or project, and this will be based on the hourly rate you determine for yourself. Writer’s Market lists low, high, and average rates for every type of writing you can think of. Base your hourly rate on this data. When people ask what you charge, don’t be sheepish. Answer quickly and firmly. The more you sound like you believe in the value of your services, the more potential clients will believe it, too.

Refer to the What Do I Charge? chart in Writer's Market and notice it talks in terms of hours, not dollars. This is because (a) every writer’s rate will be different, so it isn’t fair to assign a blanket dollar amount to a specific type of project, and (b) within the same type of project there will be different sizes of projects.

A presentation might be five slides long or fifty; a speech might be three minutes long or thirty. So when you quote on a project, do it based on a fair assessment of how many hours of your time you think it will require. Don’t approach a project thinking “How much money do I want to make off this?” because you’ll inevitably skew your own estimates according to a number of factors, including how much money you do or don’t have flowing in at a given point. That will lead to inconsistency in your quoting, which clients will come to recognize. But quote according to a true projection of the hours you’ll need to do the project and do it well, and clients will come back again and again.

Create a Standard Writing Contract

Develop your own standard freelance agreement so you’re never in danger of doing a project without having something in writing. (No pun intended.) Companies are often rushed to complete their projects, and the last thing the middle manager assigned to find a writer wants to do is go through the extra step of having to prepare a formal agreement just to allow you to edit his marketing brochure. Send him your own agreement instead, outlining clearly the nature of the project, the expectations on your part, the agreed fee and deadline, and the set number of rounds of revisions before extra time kicks in. This document doesn’t have to be long—mine is barely two pages. The important thing is that you get a signature. You may be reading this and thinking it’s a giant pain in the rear end to create a contract every time you get a corporate assignment.

Consider this scenario: The manager who’s contacted you to write a long marketing piece, along with Web site copy, for a total fee of $3,500 has bolted from his company for a position elsewhere. The marketing piece has been handed off to someone else, and this person doesn’t feel that the expense of a writer is worthwhile. If you had only a verbal agreement with the previous person, you’ve just lost $3,500. If you got it in writing, you’ve made $3,500.

That’s the more elaborate scenario. The much simpler, and more frequent one, involves your having to chase a client for payment. It would be nice if this never happened, but any veteran freelancer can tell you more stories than she’d like about delinquent clients. Without signed agreements, getting them to pay is like trying to précis Hemingway. Get all your corporate assignments in writing and you’ll never have to worry.

To learn more about writing for magazines, newspapers, literary outlets and everything else under the sun, get your own copy of this book today!

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