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How to freelance & consult: A great resource on what to charge

I heartily recommend What to Charge: Pricing Strategies for Freelancers and Consultants, by Laurie Lewis. The second edition has just been published.

Last week I experienced serendipity.

I was discarding old papers and rediscovered the title of my all-time favorite book on pricing, What to Charge: Pricing Strategies for Freelancers and Consultants. Upon looking it up online, I found—to my delight—that a new edition was published in 2011!

Author Laurie Lewis has been a freelance writer and editor since 1985. Over the years she has maintained careful records of how she quotes projects and the resulting, actual fees per hour.

Based on her experience, she offers two fundamental rules for pricing:

  1. Never quote a price on the spot.

  2. Before quoting a fee, determine the lowest acceptable rate—and the concessions to stipulate if you have to go that low.

Lewis explains exactly how to collect data, how to analyze it and how to communicate with customers.

The book is tremendously down to earth. She takes much of the emotion out of pricing. It’s as if a CPA was looking over your shoulder as you worked out the numbers.

To tell you the truth, I have not implemented her record-keeping system even though I saw it in her first edition years ago. (I probably should have.) But it continues to shape my thinking.

Here are six ways this book is unique:

  1. Lewis allows you to lower your prices in the course of negotiations without insisting that this is a loss of face. But she also suggests procedural brakes so you don’t give up too much.

  2. She has a tremendous chapter on contracts and letters of agreement. I love the sample letter of agreement and it alone is worth the book’s modest price.

  3. The advice applies to all types of freelancing and consulting, not just writing.

  4. The second edition acknowledges two financial upheavals since the first edition was published a decade ago, as well as reflecting email and other electronic developments.

  5. She recognizes the role of self-esteem in pricing decisions, but she doesn’t go all hype-y and law of attraction about it.

  6. She recommends consistent pricing procedures that increase your income over time without setting sky-high pricing goals that make an annual income under “six figures” seem shameful.

The 175-page book is available for approximately $24 plus shipping from the Amazon and Barnes & Noble sites; it’s $9.99 for Kindle. Be careful if buying a used copy because you definitely want the second edition.

This is not an affiliate recommendation though if I ever affiliate with a bookstore site, I will definitely include this book.

Enjoy!

Originally posted 3-6-11

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