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ASK US WEDNESDAY: “How do I cost a large project?”

by Rachel Smith
07 June 2017

Ask Us Wednesday NEWI’ve been freelancing for years as a magazine writer, but have recently taken on more copywriting and editing work and have been asked to quote on a large in-house report for a super corporate luxury lifestyle brand. It’ll be like a glossy magazine and around one hundred pages. A lot of the content will be supplied but it’ll need re-writing to fit in with a new tone and style. No idea where to start and what to stipulate now so it doesn’t turn into a nightmare! HM

I feel for you – these types of projects have the potential to be bigger than Ben Hur, so to speak. It’s good to know that a lot of the materials will be supplied so it’s more of an editing and re-writing job than having to come up with the content from scratch. So, how to quote? Here are the four things I would take into account before I even grabbed my calculator:

1. The materials.

What shape are they in and just how much re-working are you going to have to do?

2. The word count per page.

Knowing this is huge in terms of factoring in how much time each page will take, along with the total amount of editorial pages and whether there are ad pages you don’t need to worry about.

3. The client.

Is one person overseeing the project and signing off your work, or will it be going through a series of departments and people? If it’s the latter, you have to factor in a fair bit more time as this is when you can get a lot of re-writes because people don’t agree with the final product (see ‘nightmare’ above!)

4. The deadline.

Is it long and luxurious, or will you have to madly juggle other work in order to get it done by the client’s timeline?

Once you have all of that information, you can start to figure out how long each page will take you, building in a buffer for edits and back’n’forth between you and the client and additions for things like a super-tight deadline. Say the word count is 200 words per page and you think you can probably pull 4-5 pages into shape per day (re-writing and editing existing content). Of course this will be different for everyone, but this is just a guide – work out what you can do and use the formula below to calculate the project fee.

So, if your hourly rate is $100, you know you can complete 5 pages a day and the document is 100 pages overall, that’s 20 days of work (or roughly a month-long job), at a rate of $800/day. Which adds up to a project fee of $16,000 for the entire project. Plus GST if you charge it. If it’s a super-tight deadline or you anticipate difficulties with the client and a LOT of back’n’forth, you might want to up your hourly rate to take these factors into account.

Good luck with it!

Do you quote in a similar way for large projects? Does anyone ever include an ‘asshole tax’ for particularly tricky clients?

Rachel Smith
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Rachel Smith

As a kid, Rachel used to carry around a little suitcase of pens and paper so she could stop and write stories whenever inspiration struck. These days, she writes for a living, in between running the show at Rachel's List. Some of you may actually believe she looks like a megaphone in real life, but it's not the case. Honest.
Rachel Smith
Find us!

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