A Freelance Writer’s Guide to Quoting for Social Networking

One of the very first gigs I got over a year ago when I started full time freelancing was to work on the Twitter account of a life insurance company. The company actually found me through my own Twitter ramblings and still decided to hire me to do the same for them. Since that time I’ve had many different social networking clients and I’ve answered the questions of many different freelancers on how to quote for an SN gig, outline expectations and keep clients happy. And now I’m going to share all those secrets with you.

It is important to note that not only is my way not the ONLY way to do things, but it may not even be the best way. It’s worked out alright for me, but don’t look at it as gospel so much as a starting point.

Quoting—Hourly vs. Fee-Based

I have two ways of charging for social networking—hourly and fee-based. I prefer fee-based and would advise everyone else to stick with that model. In the fee-based model I tell the client how many tweets I’ll send each day, how many people I will follow, how many conversations I'll start, etc. Then, I consider how long I think those tasks will take and I multiply that amount of time by the hourly rate I charge for social networking (which factors in the value of my time and the potential value of the service). That is their fee for my work on their Twitter accounts.

Guru is Guaranty with An Extra U

I’m not a fan of promoting myself as a guru in anything---but especially social media, a place where I've been wrong many, many times. In fact, I shy away from expert, guru, supreme being and all other hyperbolic and ridiculously impossible titles in everything I do. Experienced? Sure. Knowledgeable? Definitely. Dedicated to consistently improving my skills and knowledge? You got it. Guru? Hahahahahaha—no. And just as I shy away from the title guru, I also shy away from giving a guaranty of the results my social networking will achieve. Because you know why? I have no idea what the results will be. Also, with every individual client it takes a lot of time and trial and error to figure out what will and won’t work. Instead I let the client know what they should expect from me, not from the work itself. Every few months the clients and I go over what is and isn't working and discuss a game plan for the future.

Tangibility of Your "Product"

Social networking is a difficult product to sell because it is completely intangible. Even if a client logs on to Twitter to see what you’ve been doing, he or she may not feel particularly impressed by your tweets about your cat and Justin Beiber---even though you know that these conversational tweets go far in building community. The way that I handle this is by giving my clients a biweekly report. This report has a graph that shows any increase in followers, lists the amount of link click-throughs we’ve gotten, tracks the number of our messages that have been retweeted and the number of conversations we've had.

So there you have it. It's not earth-shattering, amazing, or even terribly creative but hopefully it'll help you get a little of that deer-in-the-headlights look outta your eyes the next time someone approaches you about handling their social networking.

**Special Note**

You may have noticed that I'm doing fewer and fewer marketplace reviews. Most of that is because I'm super busy lately but a small part of it is because I never get surprised by my results which makes it a lot of work for little payoff. I have plans to take a look at a few more marketplaces in upcoming months but I'm also wondering if we shouldn't expand the series. Is there any other myth or folklore about freelancing that you'd like me to explore and prove or bust? I'm up for (almost) anything. Give me your ideas below.

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Yolander Prinzel is the profit monster behind the Profitable Freelancer website. She has written for a number of publications and websites such as American Express, Covestor.com, Advisor Today, Money Smart Radio and the International Travel Insurance Journal (ITIJ). Her book, Specialty Ghostwriting: A New Way to Look at an Old Career, is currently available on Amazon.

3 thoughts on “A Freelance Writer’s Guide to Quoting for Social Networking”

  1. Hi Yo —

    I’ve only had one social-media client to date, and I went a similar route to you — a flat rate and a quantifiable amount of work — I would create X number of blogs on their site and then find them X number of guest posts or other backlinks on other sites relevant to the industry. This was tougher to estimate hours on than a how-many-Tweets scenario, as there was a lot of trial and error…and as I did the work I felt I had underbid. Learning from that for next time.

    But can you share how you showed them the traffic results? Was that in terms of increased number of followers, or what? Did you use some Twitter tool for your analytics?

    PS – what is that Topsy thing, anyway? Getting it on my site as well.

  2. I use bit.ly to track traffic (clicks) from the links I send in Tweets and on some reports show that traffic. For other clients I don’t do any traffic tracking–it just depends on the client. In reality, even a Bit.ly traffic report isn’t a completely accurate picture of all the traffic that Twitter brings, but the client’s analytics or other program should give them a better idea.

  3. One other way of pricing social media work is offering to work on retainer. I mostly work with tiny businesses, and the owners are aware of the importance of social media marketing but don’t have time to do it. After a consultation, I usually create a special package for them and quote a monthly fee. So far, so good. They get consistent exposure on Twitter or Facebook or through newsletters or blogs or whatever and I get a consistent monthly income.


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