Your 12-Step Roadmap To Becoming A Well-Paid, Working Web Writer: Module 7

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How To Price Projects

  • How To Set Your Fees
  • Do You Need A Contract?
  • How To Invoice Clients
  • Other Payment Options
  • How To Set Your Fees

    If there’s anything that makes a new web writer anxious, it’s the subject of fees. On one hand, you don’t want to set them too low and risk undervaluing your work. On the other hand, you don’t want to price yourself out of any really great projects.

    So … where do you start?

    Easy. Take advice from those who’ve been in your shoes and went on to achieve six-figure incomes.

    These four resources tell you exactly what you need to know to confidently set your fees.

    Do You Need A Contract?

    A lot of web-writing business is done on good-faith. In other words, there’s not always a contract involved, even when projects amount to $20,000 or more.

    Regardless of whether you draw up a formal contract, you should at least have everything in writing. The great thing about using email as a primary means of communication is that project terms are typically spelled out via email. Plus, emails can be saved and used for future reference.

    Should you decide you don’t want to bother with formal contracts, at least make sure you get these basics confirmed via email:

    • Scope of the project (what you’re expected to write)
    • Fee amount
    • Deadline
    • Revision expectations (Do you offer free revisions for a certain period of time following delivery? Do you offer a set number of revisions?)

    In situations where you decide these details over the phone with your client, take the time to type up the notes from your phone call. Send them to your client via email and say you’d just like to “confirm the details of the project.” When your client writes back a confirmation message, you can feel comfortable knowing you have a written record of your payment details.

    If you prefer the security of a formal contract, that’s fine, too. For tips on what to include in the contract, read The Importance of Contracts to Smooth Customer Relations by Will Newman.

    How To Create An Invoice

    Once the issue of fees is taken care of, the next most common questions we hear are, “How do I actually invoice clients?” “When do I send them a bill?” “What do I send, exactly?” “How should I request payment?”

    For starters, you need a process. You need to define how you’ll handle different fee-related situations.

    In some cases, it makes sense to ask for payment upfront. Other times, you’ll want to spread your fee out over several invoices. Often, you’ll find yourself sending a bill at the conclusion of each project.

    Most web writers base their approach on the scope of the project and the amount of the fee.

    Billing Options

    For example, if you take on a small project for $200 that can be completed in a day or two, it’s pretty standard to send a bill after you turn in the completed project.

    But, if you accept a large project for, say, $16,000 that will take you four months to complete, it’s perfectly acceptable to bill your client as you work. Hypothetically, you could ask for $4,000 upfront followed by four additional payments of $3,000 at the conclusion of each month of work.

    Or, you can bill for half upfront and half upon final delivery of your project.

    Essentially, you need to decide what works best for you. A good starting baseline is to bill upon completion for anything under $1,000, and to split the payments up for anything higher.

    When Should You Send Your Invoice?

    As far as when you actually send your invoice, especially if you’re just billing at the end of a project, there’s no hard-and-fast rule.

    Some writers send their final invoice along with the final delivery of copy, while others wait till a week after delivery. In the case of the latter, this gives the client time to review and ask any questions about the final copy.

    How Do You Create An Invoice?

    Most word-processing programs come with built-in invoice templates. If you don’t have one, or you don’t like the options you have, go to any search engine and type in “free invoice templates.” You’ll find quite a few options to choose from.

    When actually creating the invoice, make sure you include:

    • Your name
    • Billing address
    • Phone number
    • Email address

    Also, if you want the check made out to a business name as opposed to your own name, you’ll need to specify. NOTE: If you prefer to have checks made out to your business name, be sure you take Will Newman’s advice and Avoid This Invoice Trap.

    Your invoice should also list the name and company of the client you’re billing, along with their address.

    If your client used a specific project number or name, or a purchase order number, be sure to include that on your invoice.

    In the itemized section of the invoice, provide a description of the project, the number of projects completed, the price for each project, and the total. For example, you might write five autoresponders for a client at $100 a piece. You’d put “5” in your “Quantity” column, “Autoresponder Copy at $100 per message” in your “Project Description” column, and “$500” in your “Amount” column. You’d provide similar information on each additional line for each project you completed. And then, you’d include a “Total Due” amount that adds up the cost of all the work you completed.

    Finally, if you send your invoices via email (as do most web writers), it’s a good idea to convert your invoices into PDFs before sending them to your client. Not only will this keep your invoice formatting intact, it’ll also guarantee none of your numbers get changed by mistake. We’re not suggesting any client would alter your invoice intentionally, but accidents can certainly happen.

    What Kind of Due Date Should You List?

    In terms of due dates, do whatever you’re comfortable with. Some web writers’ invoices say “Pay Upon Receipt” while others say “Payment Due Within 30 Days.” Most companies pay on a 30-day cycle.

    If a month goes by and you find that a client has not yet paid your bill, it’s worth checking in with them to make sure they received the initial invoice and didn’t have any questions. Also, read Will Newman’s tips on what to do When a Client is Slow to Pay.

    Other Payment Options

    Billing per project and getting checks in the mail is the current standard for the web-writing industry. If you strike up a retainer project with a client (i.e., an ongoing project), you may be able to set up a monthly payment agreement that doesn’t require you to send regular invoices.

    Similarly, depending on the client’s size and capabilities, you may be able to set up a direct-deposit agreement. This is unlikely, though, especially when you work as a freelancer and not as an official staff member at a company.

    One other option for billing clients is to send bills via PayPal, the e-commerce website that allows payments and money transfers to take place over the Internet. This is a particularly good option if you work for smaller clients, especially when they want to pay you via credit card. It can also make it easier to receive payments from international clients.

    It’s up to you whether you’ll accept credit card payments, given that a small service fee is usually involved. Still, if you’re looking at making payments as easy as possible for clients to make, PayPal is an excellent choice.

    Click here to go to Module 8 in your 12-Step Roadmap to Becoming A Well-Paid, Working Web Writer …

    This tutorial is reserved content for Wealthy Web Writer platinum members. To continue reading this module, please log in or become a member today.

Mindy Tyson McHorse

Mindy Tyson McHorse

Executive Editor for The Barefoot Writer, Mindy McHorse writes for clients in the biz-opp, alternative medicine, and self-help world.

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