This post is in response to some requests I’ve received recently from friends and acquaintances, requests that I’m sure to receive again. What happens is this: I get a Facebook message or email—usually from someone I haven’t spoken with in years and with whom I was never very close—asking if I will perform some editing and/or writing work. Usually, after exchanging a few messages, in which I ask about the project, it becomes clear that I am being asked to do this work for free. The one time I was offered any type of payment up front it was in the form of “I’ll buy you lunch at this beloved but very cheap local restaurant,” which I interpreted as, “In payment for the work you will do for me, I will take you out on a date.”
I always turn these requests down—politely at first, as I tend to operate under the assumption that these people honestly don’t realize how rude they are being—but if the person persists, I stop caring so much about being nice in favor of caring about being valued as a working professional in a very legitimate career field.
For those of you who don’t know, I freelance these services. I have worked freelance or contract projects on web design, writing, developmental editing, copyediting, and consulting. The lowest amount I ever charged was $15/hour for web design work while I was still a student (and even then I short changed myself fairly severely). Now I primarily write and edit for freelance work. I charge between $40 and $65 per hour for this work.
If you have never worked as a freelance writer or editor, or if you have never hired a freelance writer or editor at a fair wage, these prices may seems exorbitantly high. They aren’t. I actually tend to charge on the low- to mid-end of industry standard rates (www.writersmarket.com/assets/pdf/How_Much_Should_I_Charge.pdf). I have never had any professional client balk at these rates. In fact, the rate I pitch is usually accepted right away, without any type of negotiation, which tells me that I still could (and maybe should) make more. Read more…