How to Work Out Your Hourly Rate

I read this ten seconds ago and rush to bring it to you. I’ll be off now trying this out for myself, will you join me? It’s an online hourly rate calculator for freelancers. Contently just covered it, saying in part:

Many people assume figuring out what your hourly rate should be is a simple task. If you’re a freelancer who wants to make $30,000 a year, just figure out how many hours you work per year and divide, right? Not quite. And as any veteran freelancer will tell you, calculating desired rates requires a much more complicated equation.

Basically, before you know thy employer, you must know thyself. BeeWits, a project management software company, wants to help you with that process, and the company’s new rates calculator is straight out of a freelancer’s dream.

Press “Calculate My Hourly Rate” and presto! Your rate, down to the cent, pops up. It would be great to have an explanation of the calculator’s exact formula, for transparency’s sake. And we’d also love if the calculator could save your numbers to refer back to in the future. But if you’re looking for a thorough tool that can take care of some multi-variable accounting, this is perfect.

The Freelance Rates Calculator We’ve All Been Waiting For – Gabe Rosenberg, Contently (20 May 2015

Read the full piece for their take on it and then use the calculator itself online.

Editors like you to negotiate your fee – within reason

Flashback. Some time in the 1990s. I was doing copywriting for various firms and one rang up with an emergency. What would it cost them to do this right now and send it back? I could hear the desperation and I’m ashamed to say I upped my regular rate by some vast amount. (I’m not being coy, this is ages ago, I can’t remember the figures.)

“Sold,” she said.


So much so that I knew I should’ve asked for more. But I did do one savvy thing: having upped my rate for this one emergency job, I never lowered it again for the ordinary ones that followed.

On the other side of the deal, though, I can tell you that I have never had a freelance writer question a fee or ask for more money.

The website Contently has good piece now about exactly what editors can do financially – short answer: not a lot – and what they think of writers who do negotiate – short answer: quite a lot.

Sometimes, asking for more money is a dead-end; but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. “Most of my clients have a specific budget for content,” said content strategist Jessica Ashley, a former senior editor at Yahoo! Shine who now works as editor-in-chief for “I lobby hard to get writers fair compensation, but I appreciate when writers negotiate their fees. It’s just good business, and I appreciate writers standing up for what they can offer to the site.”

However, standing up for fair compensation does not mean you should pretend to be a hardline agent. The way you present your request will definitely have an impact on how it’s received.

“It’s important to be both confident and kind,” Ashley said. She suggests explaining what you can offer for your proposed rate using “ands” instead of “buts.” For example begin with a direct stance: “My current rate is $200 per post, and I would be thrilled to contribute to this site because…”

How Do Editors Really Feel When You Negotiate Rates? – Meagan Francis, Contently (10 November 2014)

Read Francis’s full piece for more.

Charge your audience by the laugh

A comedy club in Barcelona is experimenting with charging users per laugh, using facial-recognition technology to track how much they enjoyed the show.

The software is installed on tablets attached to the back of each seat at the Teatreneu club.

Each laugh is charged at 0.30 euros (23p) with a cap of 24 euros (£18). Takings are up so far.

Comedy club charges per laugh with facial recognition – Jane Wakefield, BBC News Online (9 October 2014)


End contract prices when your contract ends

You signed up for a contract mobile phone and accepted that it was costing you a bit for the service and a bit for the phone. Mobile phones are very expensive and the cost gets subsidised by the carriers so naturally we have to pay them quite a bit while we’re under contract.

But you don’t stay under contract. After two years, say, the contract is up. Yet people keep paying their regular monthly bill anyway.

I went a bit pale this week when friend-of-the-blog Steve Fitzpatrick pointed it out. Fortunately, I think I have always gone from one subsidised phone to another. But not this time.

This time I am just out of contract but I haven’t bought the new iPhone. So on Steve’s advice, I went back to my carrier and changed my deal. Now that my contract is up, I own my iPhone 5 so for now I’m keeping that and only paying Three for the service.

The difference is huge. I used to pay £42/month and as of this week, that’s down to £18. It’s a slightly better deal in terms of texts and phone minutes but who cares? It’s the all-you-can-eat data that I wanted enough to pay £42 for but I now have for £24 less. Per month. That’s a quarter of a hundred pounds less.

So thank you Steve. And if you’re in this position, go change to a new contract. Specifically a SIM-only contract.

Curiously, two reasons led to the conversation with Steve that got me this saving. One is that there are two iPhones out and they’re big. I need to see them in my hands before I can really decide whether they’re too big for me or not. There are reasons to like the new iPhone beside size but the size could put me off. Consequently I didn’t just pre-order or plan to buy on release day today.

But the second is that I couldn’t really make the numbers work. The price of the phone under a two-year contract is fine but no matter how I sliced it or how I considered switching to other providors, I didn’t like the numbers. All you can eat data is important to me and every deal was coming in at £45 or above.

Now I’ve gone SIM-only and own my iPhone 5, I’m suddenly looking at £18 a month I’m actually paying or anything above £45. That’s a big difference. That’s a big enough difference that I might skip this iPhone.

Incidentally, if I don’t skip it, if I go buy one, I am now committed to my SIM-only deal for £18. I couldn’t get a subsidised iPhone 6 from Three without paying some terminations fees. But I could buy one from Apple and pay over Apple Finance to get a monthly fee. That’d mean paying Apple a bit every month for the phone and Three a bit every month for the service.

It works out at pretty much exactly what I’d have been paying if I had gone straight for having Three subsidise me.

So I’m no worse off with my potential decisions but I am much better off with what I’m actually paying. And I go so pale at the thought I might very well have continued to pay my old monthly cost forever. You know people must do this. You know mobile phone companies would let them.

If that’s you, then, go sort it out and thank Steve.

Your fee is part of how you advertise yourself

There are many online services now where you can hire writers and they all have several things in common. Without fail, the writers are charging practically no money at all or sometimes literally no money at all. This is because everybody thinks they can write and part of their stupidity is that they conclude that the way to get writing jobs is to be cheaper than anyone else.

Cue a race to the bottom as every amateur undercuts every other amateur and the professionals are left being told they’re too expensive.

Now, I’d be okay with this and I might even enjoy the karma that the quality and effectiveness and sometimes actual comprehensibility of the writing you get for free is exactly as bad as you’d imagine.

Unfortunately, companies who are stupid enough to hire writers who charge no money will tend to conclude that writers are crap. You can mock them for this but it won’t change their minds. They’ve gone to a writer, the writer is crap, all writers are crap.

It bothers me that this is what they conclude and I am only a little bit mollified by the fact that they’re going out of business on Tuesday.

There is a word for companies like this and it’s the same word for amateur writers: “goodbye”.

But in this race for the bottom you can unconsciously believe that you have to lower your prices to get any chance of a look in. Often, it’s true. That destroys or at least dents my argument a bit but then this undoes the dent, this repairs it and gives it all a polish: an app developer raised his price as an April Fools’ joke and it worked.

San Francisco-based developer Giacomo Balli doubled his take on his iPhone apps thanks to an April Fools’ Day joke. When he ratcheted up the price to an eye-popping $4.99 for an app that catalogs books, he got downloads instead of complaints.

The App Store lets devs change the sale price of their apps pretty much any time they like, but most folks take conventional routes: cutting prices during sales or dropping prices to free. Balli made his previously free apps premium with just a toggle.

“There weren’t any app updates, either,” he told Cult of Mac over the phone. “Just the price.”

How a dev doubled his revenue with an April Fools’ joke – Rob LeFebrve, Cult of Mac (22 August 2014)

The full piece has some thoughts about how this worked and how it had something to do with the specific target market for this app.

But the thing to take away for me is that your price is part of your advert for yourself. If you say you are worth something, you’re worth it.