When it comes to haggling with others to get more bang for my buck, I confess: I can compete with the best. As a veteran writer who knows the importance of embracing the frugal lifestyle in order to go the distance, I’m a self-appointed expert on how to shop smart, stretch a dollar, and cut corners in a quality way.
In other words, my bargaining skills are an asset at yard sales, flea markets, and vendor’s booths; but with more professional services and offerings, I’m savvy enough to know that the provider has a right to dictate his service's or product's worth.
And I must oblige and honor it, if I want to do business and seal the deal.
For instance, I wouldn’t expect to go to my doctor’s office and talk him into a discount because he kept me waiting for longer than my scheduled appointment time.
Nor would I expect a hairstylist to charge me less because my hair is shorter than her other clients comparatively.
So, what does this have to do with freelance writing?
In a nutshell: realistic expectations and industry knowledge.
Here’s the moral of the story:
Landing clients that actually value our worth, “get” how we enhance their businesses, and understand the creative process, makes a big difference in reducing stress and earning what we deserve.
Read and heed.
A couple of years ago, this paradigm shift in my way of thinking, changed the way I approached my business and brought in more money with less drama.
In part, I credit Peter Bowerman’s book, “The Well-Fed Writer” with helping me to reconcile a very important truth about freelancing: there are clients, and then there are “clients”.
One example that readily comes to mind is a national, membership organization, that I found through online research some time ago, and pitched my creative services.
Initially, these folks were very interested. And we kept in touch over a period of months.
They had a blog that was in much need of updates, and a functional website, that though informative, reflected poorly on their collective image, due to typos, etc.
To add insult to injury, they simply didn't have the time and expertise to bring it up to snuff and maintain it. Ideally, it would be a win/win for both of us.
Since they were working with a “tight budget” and I really liked their “cause”, I patiently allowed them to make me an offer, and see if somehow we could meet in the middle.
I was amazed at their final offer. The verdict?
They somehow felt that 50 bucks a month would be fair compensation for several blog posts and social media promotions. Say what?! J
Well, since we couldn’t quite see eye-to-eye, I wished them well and went on my merry way…
Which brings us to today’s lesson...
Job bulletin boards and online market places for writers are saturated with gigs that will pay you five bucks for a 700-word blog post, or gladly “pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today”. But, those shouldn’t be the places that you seriously seek to earn a living. Hello? :-)
The key is to work smarter, not harder.
If you have to go that route, use them in the early stages of your career to hone your craft and to build your portfolio. As you progress, let the “level” of your clients progress as well.
Do a good job, and you may even get a bigger bonus through referrals and increased pay. But give it a limit.
So who and what are these “A” level clients?
Here’s how I would categorize these awesome individuals, based upon my experience.
See if you agree.
- “A” clients believe in paying an honest wage for an honest day’s work. Typically, you won’t have to jump through hoops to get paid a rate that is fair, and received as agreed upon.
- “A” clients ultimately understand the need to draw up a written contract for your protection and theirs. Or minimally, will verify terms through email to serve as documented reference for the future.
- “A” clients are not evasive; full disclosure is not a problem, as it relates to doing business. They will let you know when you’ll get paid, the method, and there is full contact information provided, should you have problems or questions.
- “A” clients are responsive. They get back to you promptly, respect your time, and value your services.
- “A” clients understand the difference between a freelance professional and an employee. They don’t “micro-manage” and get in the way of their own success.
- "A" clients have a good track record of maintaining a successful business, and can appreciate what it takes to operate yours.
If you want to take your business to new heights this year and beyond, be more selective in the assignments you seek. And remember that it's not just "how" you write, but for "whom" you write that will ultimately determine your success and your quality of life.
Have a terrific Thursday.
Do you have any "A" clients?