“How in the World Do I Charge for This Bulk Freelance Writing Job?” Yuwanda Help!

About three weeks ago in the early afternoon, an email arrived in my box from a frantic freelance writer. She’d gotten a bite on what could be a large writing/editing job, and needed some insight on what to charge.

Before I get to her questions, just one thing …

What Do You Want to Know about Freelance Writing?

Or, putting your skills to use writing for yourself? On Friday, I’ll share how my SEO writing knowledge helped me earn almost $1,100 in less than two days. It was on one of my own projects.

I should have been more proactive about asking you all along what you want/need to know more about. But better late than never, no? So send those questions in. As this post illustrates, I tend to go into great detail so that everybody benefits because trust me, if you have a question about something, other freelance writers do too.

Now, to today’s post …

I Don’t Want to Lose Them, But I Don’t Want to Charge Too Little Either!

This freelancer wrote:

Hi Yuwanda,

I would like a bit of guidance from you although I know you don’t quite like these kinds of questions because, there is so much information online to tap into. However, you are a guru and the best resource out there for me!

How should I approach quoting for writing content for a bank’s website where the articles could range from 200+ to 500+ words including re-writing existing copy as well as writing fresh copy for them?

What I find with these types of jobs is that you may end up writing content of a variety of word counts/lengths or re-writing the same copy umpteen times because more than one person has to read it at the institution so you end up doing more than you’ve quoted for.

What rating scheme do you think works best in this type of scenario? Charge them according to word count or use a daily rate to cover the extra work that is bound to come in?

I also don’t want to frighten my client off because clients here aren’t sophisticated enough to realise that the job we do, requires a skill that warrants substantial remuneration. I think basically what I’m seeking is a second opinion or some direction.

Thanks in advance.

My Answer

Even though this freelancer didn’t say it was urgent that I get back to her, I did, almost immediately. She caught me at just the right moment – as I was in my email and on a “response tear.” Anyhoo, following is what I told her.

Insight on How to Price Bulk/Difficult Freelance Writing JobsFor jobs like this, I quote a project rate, which includes X amount of pages of copy, with x amount of rewrites/editing (no more than 2 in my opinion).

Also, be sure to hold them to strict deadlines. When you have clients where everybody has their finger in the pie, it can get really sticky. Deadlines are missed, changes are rampant, focus gets changed, etc. It can be very stressful – and all of this delays your getting paid.

So again – project rates, limited rounds of edits, strict deadlines (eg, copy must be back to me in 3 biz days after I submit to you. I’ll incorporate all changes and get final round of edits back to you in 2 biz days, etc).

Make sure that if they change focus (which of course requires more work for you, that you account for that in your contract. This happens a lot in projects like this.

They start out wanting one thing, then once you start producing copy and they see it, then they’re like, instead of going this direction, we think this would be much better. Can you do this instead, cut that out, include that other part, blah, blah, blah. Not wanting to scare you, of course, just letting you know what could happen.

Also, get a percentage of front (no less than half in my opinion), with the remainder due upon completion.

I’d also add in a kill fee – that way if for any reason they’re lagging on their end or change focus, you’re protected.

Hope this helps, and good luck landing the gig!

4 Things to Look Out for On Large Writing / Rewriting / Editing Jobs

Following is a bit more clarification and insight into not only how to land jobs like this, but how to make them go smoothly when you do.

1. Scope Creep

Jobs like this practically scream that scope creep is coming. And in case you don’t know what it is, it’s defined this way on Wikipedia, which does happen to b ea good resource for some things – LOL! 🙂

Scope creep (also called requirement creep, function creep and feature creep) in project management refers to uncontrolled changes or continuous growth in a project’s scope. This can occur when the scope of a project is not properly defined, documented, or controlled. It is generally considered harmful.

And although some freelance writing clients aren’t mindful of scope creep at all and will suck you dry with their demands, these tend to be few and far in between.

Jobs like this lend themselves to scope creep because the client is feeling his/her way. They’re not quite sure how much rewriting is required, and how much new writing they want, so they may zig zag back and forth until they find that balance.


It doesn’t mean you have to let scope creep happen (or get out of hand). You should be compensated for it if it does, which brings me to my next point.

2. Contract Terms

The onus is upon you as a freelance writer to clearly define what the job entails, what you will do, what they’re expected to do (eg, get rewrites/edits back to you on time), and when the project will be complete.

Be sure to clearly outline things like when you will get the first round of copy to them, and when they will get it back to you; how many round of rewrites/edits you will do; how/when the project will be terminated if deadlines aren’t met, etc.

I find that many freelancers, especially newbies, are afraid to hold clients’ feet to the fire like this because they don’t want to lose them.

Trust me, if you’ve ever been through scope creep with a pain-in-the-a** client, you’ll wish you could lose them! Like I said though, most clients have no idea of what a writing job like this entails. And they shouldn’t. You’re the professional, it’s up to you to guide them.

A good client will not only not run away from you for being so detailed, they’ll look at you as the professional you are and thank you for keeping the project on track – and in many cases, under budget.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a client say, “If you ever want a job as an editorial manager. Man, you stick to those deadlines, don’t ya?!” And yes, I do. I worked in trade publishing for years at Matthew Bender in New York City. It was a legal rade publisher, which was acquired years ago by LexisNexis. Deadlines were hammered home by my bosses.

The reason is, a missed deadline could cost the company thousands of dollars. It pushes the production schedule for everything back. This costs. So you bet your patootie my bosses hammerd the importance of them home. So yeah, I’ll call, I’ll harangue and I’ll quickly let them know that if the project is delayed, I may not be around to complete it because I have other clients lined up.

Again, a client who is a professional like you and values their time will totally get it – and respect you for valuing yours.

3. Dealing with Multiple People

Oftentimes, when a job like this is commissioned, several people within the organization have a say in the project. This is another reason scope creep can creep in – and what can get a project off in a ditch quick, fast and in a hurry.

Sometimes, it can be like herding cats to get it done when you have so many fingers in the writing pie. So what you want to ask for is a point person. Make sure you always have one; that way you’re not explaining the same thing over and over again to three or four different people – and you’re not getting multiple rounds of edits from different people.

This brings me to the last thing to look out for on large writing projects like this …

4. Deadlines

In order to meet them, you’re going to have to run a tight ship from the beginning. That’s why you start with a strong contract that outlines the terms of the project clearly, and has a strong kill fee in case things go awry. This gets everyone on the same page.

Then, you submit an editorial calendar of the submission process and deadlines. And then, all of this will be routed between you and the point person.


I hope this sheds some light on how to handle large, twisty, windy freelance writing projects like this. Just one more thing … little ole me a guru? Why thank you doll! 🙂

She Heard Back from the Prospective Client about the Job!

Update: Right after I finished this post, I emailed the link to the freelancer who contacted me. She wrote back, saying:

Yuwanda, I actually just finished reading it! Excellent!

Funnily enough, I got a response only this morning from the ‘business handler/point person’ saying my quote had been submitted and they were waiting for feedback from the ‘the powers that be’. I had to re-quote them because the job is for two different banks/outfits under the same umbrella. Getting the quote to them was a rush but getting a response from them, I literally almost forgot about them!
I love your analogy of ‘herding cats’!! Inconceivable (in reality) but true! Thanks so much.
I’m adding your post to my freelance writing arsenal and yes, You ARE a guru!

Universe Listen Up!

So let’s all collectively send up good wishes for her to land the gig. There’s power in numbers, and I believe the universe listens. And I am, after all, a guru — so my wish should be granted in her favor. 🙂 #ijs

Have you had writing jobs like this? How would you have handled it?

Let me know in the comments section below. Even though I’m a “guru” (hey, her words, not mine!), I don’t know it all and would love to hear your thoughts.

Coming Friday: Knowing SEO Pays Handsomely – How I Recently Earned Right at $1,100 in Less Than 2 Days (Yep, Santa came early for me!)

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    1. Melissa Woolston says:

      This article really brings to light the issues many freelancers face on a day to day basis.

    2. #3: ‘Find a point person’ otherwise it would be like ‘herding cats’! Hilarious but so true!

      All the points are extremely helpful-we learn something new every day!

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