Best Practices for Setting Rates as a Solo PR Pro

Setting Fees

Best Practices for Setting Rates as a Solo PR Pro

May 2, 2023 | Setting Fees

Best Practices for Setting Rates as a Solo PR Pro

May 2, 2023 | Setting Fees

Figuring out your rates is often the hardest part of being a business owner, especially when people are so often reluctant to talk transparently about numbers.

When you’re a new solo PR pro, you might find yourself wondering: How the heck am I supposed to know what to charge when no one talks about it?

Here’s the good news though: It doesn’t have to be this way — and there’s been a bit of a trend lately of people being more transparent about their rates publicly on their websites or in conversation. You may have to do a little bit of digging, but the information is out there.

Hopefully we can help, too! Solo PR Pro has a number of pricing resources in our member library. [If you’re already a Solo PR Pro Premium member, be sure to check out our comprehensive “Show Me The Money” series.] Additionally, there are a number of resources out there to help you determine your pricing, including guides like this one and this bill rate calculator

Here are some other things you should consider when determining how much you should charge for your services.

Know your costs and understand what you need to make a living

First things first, it's important to know what you need to make in order for your business to be sustainable. That means understanding the cost of living in your area and then charging enough for your work that you can cover your expenses and continue to save for future goals.

Additionally, to be a successful solo PR pro, you have to know both what you're spending and earning. 

If your business is just starting out, this can be hard because there are probably some expenses that haven't been incurred yet. You may not have paid for office space or equipment or hired an assistant or had to pay taxes on your income. 

But these things will happen eventually; they're just waiting on their respective triggers: rent due, equipment purchase necessary, employee hired, etc. 

So keep track as best as possible until then so that when those expenses hit, they don't blindside you with how much they cost.

Once you know how much you can expect to spend on your business, you can come up with an hourly rate or determine what you want to make each month in order to cover your expenses with income left over. 

Give yourself credit for your value 

You have to understand the value of what you're doing for a client and see how it compares with others' offerings in your area of expertise.

It can be difficult for new freelancers who don't have much experience under their belts, especially when compared with more established professionals who charge higher rates and may have built up a reputation over time. 

But when you finally determine your pricing, be confident in it. 

“Don't be afraid to say that your rates are your rates,” advise Michael Ares, principal owner of MDA Corporate Marketing, LLC and member of Solo PR Pro Premium. “If a client isn’t willing to pay you for what you are worth, other problems are bound to arise and they're not a good fit. Life's too short.”

When it comes to sharing rates with prospective clients, Michael adds that he starts with his top rate so he can leave some room for negotiation based on length of the engagement, termination terms, potential for future work, etc.

A pricing example from a fellow solo PR Pro

When it comes to pricing for Michael, he knows he’ll always deliver top-tier services so it’s a client’s end of the bargain that’s open to question, not his. 

“I don't want to get too far into any business discussion before each of us is aligned on three of the most important factors of our potential engagement: how much the services I would be providing will cost, the method used to determine what is charged and when that compensation will be paid,” says Michael. “All three are important to both of us. I simply don't want to waste either my time or theirs if we're not at least conceptually in agreement on these right from the start.” 

After listening to what a client is looking for, Michael will typically ask them how much they have budgeted for the engagement. 

“If there is any hesitation to disclose this info, that's a flaming red flag for me,” he says. “If I get the answer ‘What do you think it should cost?’ I'll offer a range based on whatever factors I see will be in play: who I'd be working with, who makes which decisions, how many people will be in the creation/review/approval process, etc.”

Michael notes he offers a variety of payment options as well: hourly, flat fee per project or even per word for writing assignments.

“Whatever the method, it is all based on my hourly rate, really,” he says. “I figure what a given project should take me to complete based on the factors outlined above, with some leeway for unanticipated aspects. For one-time projects for someone I haven't worked with before, I charge half up front and the remainder upon completion, unless I'm working on behalf of a trusted colleague who owns the billing relationship.”

Want to join Solo PR Pro? Solo PR Pro Premium membership only opens for enrollment a few times a year. Membership is currently closed, but you can sign up for the waiting list to be among the first to find out when we reopen.

Photo Credit:jacoblund via IStock by Getty Images

Written By Solo PR Staff
Solo PR is a membership community for independent/freelance professionals in public relations, social media and related fields. The Solo PR staff includes Editor, Jessica Lawlor and President, Karen Swim.