Setting Freelance Technical Writer Rates - Are You Working Per an Hour Or Per Page?

One of the many decisions a freelance technical writer needs to make is the method by which they will paid. I'm not referring to the transfer of funds to a bank account but rather to the rate or method of determining their pay. Basically there are two choices. You can be paid on a time basis, by the hour, or by a page or word count method. You have to decide which you think is better for your business.

Now immediately we come to a roadblock. If for instance you think you would rather be paid by the page or by the word count but the job you apply for stipulates that you are to be paid by the hour, what do you do? You really want the job or perhaps you really need the job but you do not like working on a task when you're being paid by the hour. Well one suggestion is that you approach the employer and tell them of your preference for being paid by another method. You would need to be polite and professional and you would need to explain how you think that that type of payment would be better for both parties. It's worth a try.

What's the difference between working for hour or per page?

If you are working by the hour, the agency which has brought you and the employee together will usually provide a form of software so that you can accurately record the amount of time you spend on the task. This software is recognized by all parties. A possible problem with this system is that you could spend an inordinate amount of time finishing the task and upset the employer. They may look at the job and say that it can be done in five hours and yet it may take you eight or 10 hours to complete. This could be because you're not a brilliant freelancer or it could be because the task is very difficult and nobody could complete in five hours. So this is an issue you need to consider.

If on the other hand you are being paid per page or on the word count, then there is no dispute as to how much you should be paid. It would be a rate per page or per word and at the end of the task you simply count up the number of words or pages created and that brings you to the fee. To many freelancers this is a fair way of being paid because if they create a significant amount of material they receive the appropriate fee.

To avoid the problem of having the employer say that parts, even a large part, of the work you have produced is irrelevant and needs to be removed, thus significantly reducing your income, you should send the work in stages. Each stage is approved by the employer before you move on to the next one. If you follow this process by the time you get to the end all or nearly all of the work will be acceptable and therefore it is easy to work out the fee.

It's a matter of personal preference. If you're happy to work on an hourly rate, and the employer is happy with that situation, then away you go. If you and the employer can agree that you will be paid a set amount per page or per word, then that too is an acceptable situation.