Freelance 101: Getting Paid What You Are Worth

By: Eden Hensley; Photo by Brooke Dennis for Alt Summit

Successful entrepreneurs do not work for free. Or if they do, they are strategic about the types of projects, the clients, and the duration of those projects.

Equally as dangerous as working for free is performing work for less than market rate. But what is market rate? How does one determine what their skills and their influence are worth?

When we see stories about fashion blogger Bryanboy making $100,000 in 2010 and Scott Schuman of The Sartorialist making more than $250,000 a year, it is easy to think that all content creators are rolling in money. We are just as likely to hear of a blogger being asked to wrangle a team of team of six women to write 30 posts over a month, edit those posts, optimize them for SEO for $1,000. The reality is somewhere in the middle based on a diverse product offering.

Content creators bring a multitude of skills to the table from writing to art direction to styling to event planning to photography and more. Depending on the type of work you are doing, you can expect to be paid for your expertise, your influence (how engaged are your readers and social media fans), or a combination of both your expertise and your influence. Do not be afraid of push back on your fees. Be ready:

  • With your policies and clear contracts that spell out what your rates include and do not include. Know whether you want to bill by project, hourly, or per word. In your proposals and on your invoices, create a line item for each service included in the project: research, styling, photography, writing, and so on. You do not have to charge for everything, but be clear how you have matched your client’s budget. Original posts take more of your time than round up type posts and should be compensated at a higher rate.
  • To talk money. Conversations about money do not have to be awkward; leave the personal emotion out of it and they will not be.
  • With your past successes.
  • To negotiate and to walk away if the relationship is not a win-win for both parties. No matter what, you are not going to get paid what you are worth unless you negotiate. Here are 37 negotiation tactics every freelance writer needs to master.