Contracts // Business Forms

Typical contract stipulations

Most often rates of pay will be determined four ways.  The contract should stipulate your rate of pay either by project, word totals, pages or hours completed.  Nothing more or less makes for honest, clear and precise practice.  When you stipulate how and when charges are to be paid the clients will want to have guarantees of word usage, the number of expected drafts and deadlines.  Sometimes contracts will incorporate multiples of the four basic ways to stipulate pay encompassing factors that may change or vary during an assigned project.

Even as a novice, you will want to set your rate of pay, control your workload and define acceptable payment terms.  It is solely up to you to take control of your business and your income right out of the gate.  Your time served and experience gained will allow you to rise up the pay level plateaus naturally.  A fair rate of pay is often relative to one’s experience.

Other factors involved in pay rates per job

Other factors that raise the level of pay are research requirements, the complexity of the subject or project, the length of the piece and sometimes even style and formats.  Always try to be as fair as possible.  Making sure of the required research time can be challenging but must be agreed upon and stated.  You are the ultimate judge here; but, remember overcharging can be as lethal as undercharging.  All parties should be in complete compliance.

There will be many job postings that state up front the compensation offered for the assignment.  You are the boss of yourself!  Do not hesitate to pass or accept any job offer for you are in control.  As I stated in the last chapter, be cautious of the content mills as these jobs can be as low paying as $5 to $10 per finished project.

How to determine fair compensation

There are a number of ways to find out what other freelance writers charge.  Various writers’ websites include the writer’s rate sheets.  The place most trusted by freelancers is the “Editorial Freelancers Association”.  This site will include pay rates and ranges of pay for a number of specific jobs and various projects.  Also, job sites can sometimes divulge what other writers are being paid and/or offered.  Often you can calculate the market value of certain types of assignments from the information released.

Assess all of your time and costs thoroughly

When setting your pay rate remember to incorporate any additional costs you might incur.  If you have set up a corporation, pay for office space, computer program fees, accounting services and more all need to be accounted for.  Self-employment can also involve insurance and cost of living expenses.  It is wise to add approximately 20%-25% more to your hourly rate based upon these expenses.  Over time you can adjust your calculations up or down based upon actual assessments.

Tracking time appropriately

It is so important to track your time appropriately.  Setting up “SpreedSheets”, are the best way to properly track time from start to finish.  You will include research, writing and editing times on these sheets.  Notating things like re-writes, and extended text are critical to arrive at the accurate pay.  When a client requests multiple edits it needs to be noted.  The loss of any time spent costs you and not the employer.  Be diligent with the use of your spreed sheets.  With time you will find it easier to incorporate all the necessary charges and legitimate hours to ensure adequate compensation for your work.

Multiple projects

When you juggle multiple projects the need for precise spreed sheets becomes even more evident.  It will be wise to scrutinize daily the tracking of hours on each project.  Often it is easy to get overwhelmed with multiple projects so to tender this information upfront to a potential client is an honorable and fitting idea.  If they’re completely sold on your value they will appreciate this information and your concern.  However, you should avoid making your scheduled work too arduous.

Where to find business forms

There are many business and accounting software programs available.  “Quick Books” ( is probably the most popular.  More importantly, you can go to ( to compare various programs and weigh their options.  I feel the best way to go is through a number of reputable companies that can personalize all your business forms to enhance and professionalize your appearance.  Local businesses like Staples and Office Depot have similar offerings.

Letterhead, business cards, invoices, and even contracts that are personalized can be copied, scanned and duplicated keeping costs down and appearances professional.

Define your business

The more you define your business the easier it becomes to handle.  With that, I suggest creating a “Yearly Business Spreedsheet”.  This should be an inclusive list showing all twelve months of income and business expenses.  One side of the ledger to list Assets the other side listing Debits.  When you do this you help define your business.  This makes the handling of taxes and accounting so much simpler.