9 Ways Freelancer Technical Writers Can Increase Rates

I moved into contracting when I moved to the US so I could juggle different projects at the same time. Sometimes I was working – and billing – three clients in the same week. This was at the height of the dotcom boom when freelancing made you big bucks. Oddly enough, now that the economy is tanking, many Technical Writer are moving into freelancing to supplement their incomes. Here are some ways to determine you daily rates if you decide to go freelance.

How to Work Out Your Daily Rates

You can use different approaches to determine what to charge when you move into freelance work.

For example:

Divide your annual salary by 52 weeks, add 20 percent.


if you’re on 52k, divide by 52 weeks, you’d get 1k per week.

Ten add 20 percent and you’re up to 1200 per week.

Divide this by 5 days and you get 240 per day.

This is doing it back to front…It doesn’t take into consideration the real world or at least what others are charging for their work.

How to calculate Daily Rates

Here’s an approach that I’d take:

  1. Look at the recruitment websites and find the type of job you’re after.
  2. Make a list of the daily rates across several sites.
  3. Get an average daily rate and not rely just on one site. If you’re a total beginner to the field, say just out of college, your rates will be more towards the lower end.
  4. Contact Recruitment companies and explain the type of positions that you’re after.
  5. Ask them what daily rates you can expect to get based on your experience. Let’s say they believe you can get 300 per day.
  6. As a rule of thumb, Recruiters add 20-25% to the rates they charge clients. In other words, if they offer you 200 per day, they’ll probably charge the client 240 per day. The extra 40 per day (20 percent) is their fee.
  7. Once you know the average daily rates, you can go directly to a company and offer your services from 200 – 240 per day. If you charge 220 per day, then they stand to save 20 per day, 100 per week, and 400 per month.

    Try to highlight this when talking to them. Otherwise, they may assume that your rates are the same as the recruiters.

  8. Contact the HR Dept of the IT companies. Ask if they hire ‘direct’ rather than through recruitment companies. Some companies, especially large multi-nationals, have a policy of using recruitment firms only. It’s mostly for legal reasons and no reflection on your abilities. Smaller companies tend to be more flexible.
  9. If you’re new to contracting, target local companies with less than 50 employees. These are usually more receptive to independent contractors and, even if they don’t have large 3+ month contracts, may have many smaller pieces of work.

    This can be a good way to build your portfolio while paying the bills.

making it as a Freelance Contractor

Your success as a freelance contractor depends not only on your ability to do the job but to sell your services to prospective clients. Companies won’t come to you offering you work.

You have to go to them.

Before you do this, prepare everything in advance, from your sales pitch, writing samples, business cards, and of course the answer to their last question: how much do you charge?


If you have done your homework, you’ll feel confident when discussing the rates. If the person refuses you, at least you know its not because of your prices but something else.

How do you work out your daily rates?