"Required reading" for today's smart writer.

"Required reading" for today's smart writer.
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Sunday, March 16, 2014

How to Help More Clients "Afford" You and $eal the Deal!

Let's face it.
In a perfect world, writers wouldn't have to haggle over fees at bidding sites that offer bargain basement compensation for our time and talent. Or accept blogging assignments that pay five dollars for five hundred words.
Or settle for free "exposure" for our efforts.

We'd be contracted at the same generous rates as other creative professionals. Think about it.
Rap singers earn millions. Comedians are "laughing their way to the bank."

And actors and screenwriters live "Red Carpet" lifestyles.
Certainly we deserve a bigger piece of the pie comparatively.
But, here are a few things we must contend with until things change...  

First off, there is the misperception that "If you have a computer and an Internet connection, you too can become a writer; anyone can do it."
This myth continues to devalue our profession.

Then there's the economy.
We're living in tough times where many folks are trying to get more for their money.
We've been forced to do more with fewer resources.

But, a writer has got to eat, right?
With this being the case, sometimes it behooves us to be "strategic" as well as creative, when it comes to dealing with clients and negotiating rates for our services.
And need I mention, that depending upon your individual circumstances and your experience in this industry, some money is better than none at all. Hello?

As a veteran freelancer who has had to cut more deals than a hostage negotiator, I offer the following tips to add to your bottom line objectives.

Give yourself the best bargaining power.  Quote a price that's too high, they may seek services elsewhere. Pitch too low, and you may end up cheating yourself.
In the initial stage, talk less--listen more.

If there's no wiggle room with the price, the frequency can be tweaked.
For example, if a client can only afford $100.00 a month for his blog to be updated, instead of updating it weekly, you can counter with updates 2x per month. Make sense?
Some time ago, I met a client who lived in my area, who was just starting her business and needed an array of services. I liked her right away, and wanted to work together.
As a start-up with very limited funds however, she couldn't offer me what I felt I was worth to help build her business. The solution? I provided her the opportunity to have me do the writing and content for her site, while she would be responsible for providing her own research and statistical data for the project. It came out cheaper for her, and translated into less time and mental wear and tear for me. It was a win/win here.
Sometimes being "creative" means offering clients discounted rates for multiple services; or a lower rate if they pay the entire fee upfront, (as opposed to monthly payments); or rewards for repeat business and referrals."It works if you work it." :-)

Sure, you can purchase some of the same items at Wal-Mart as you can at Neiman Marcus; it's the "perceived" value that makes the difference. To increase yours, make sure to mention Case Studies of how you've helped clients to solve a problem in their business, or increased traffic to their site significantly, or saved them time. Discuss how your years of experience and A-list clients would dictate more compensation than the "5 dollar writer."
Having testimonials on your site and any writing-related awards can be effective as well.
People will typically pay more for things they feel will enhance them, make their lives easier, or services that are highly regarded by others.

On a final note here...Once you get your foot in the door, many times it's possible to ask for a raise and more competitive rates. The key is to keep as many doors open as possible; you never know just where it may lead.

Agree or disagree?
Thoughts here? Have you ever had to play "Let's Make a Deal" with clients?

Image: Freedigitalphotos.net


  1. I have had to play Let's Make a Deal once in a while. Sometimes it's more fun than others. :) But it's always nice when like late last year an editor messaged me on Facebook telling me she wanted me to write a short monthly column and how much would I charge? Very sweet indeed.

    I'm thinking these skills of yours might come in handy if you want to pick up extra work - you can always offer your services for hostage negotiation, right?

  2. This is great indeed. Good to hear from you, Karen. Thanks.

  3. Karen, Wow, good for you on the column offer! Jen, that "anyone can write" myth is a killer isn't it? Great tips, as always.

  4. Increasing your perceived value is great advice. I've maintained a great client for nearly 10 years because I did that early on, inadvertently. They needed me to write the manual for a new software tool, and as I was going through the tool, I noticed some typos, grammar errors, etc., so I noted them and sent them along with the manual. The clients were so delighted! So now I write all the manuals for all their software--they feel like they're getting more bang for their buck, and it only takes a couple extra minutes.

    I would also suggest considering how you word your quotes. I found out the hard way that telling people I charge $75/hr for proofreading sounds exorbitant to some (especially if I'm talking to an assistant editor who makes $25/hr). But I know I can proof about 5,000 words in an hour, so now I tell people my rate is $75/5,000 words, and that sounds like a much better deal. :)

    1. Excellent input, Julie. And pretty impressive on your part, (the 5,000 words). Great to hear from you on this. :-)

  5. I would also suggest considering how you word your quotes. I found out the hard way that telling people I charge $75/hr for proofreading sounds exorbitant to some (especially if I'm talking to an assistant editor who makes $25/hr). But I know I can proof about 5,000 words in an hour, so now I tell people my rate is $75/5,000 words, and that sounds like a much better deal. :)

  6. Thank you for writing this article. I started writing a few years ago, but haven't found the courage to really jump in. My biggest frustration is that as a freelance writer, you need to weed through the seemingly endless jobs that are offering to pay $1.50 for a 500 word flawless article. While you may get some exposure, $1.50 will not put food on the table.

    There is also, as you mentioned, the misconception that anyone can write. Additionally, I feel that so many people that find themselves in a position of unemployment, turn to writing because they feel "anyone can do it". While some become very successful this way, it discredits those that are truly passionate about their craft and are looking to make this their career, not just something to make a few bucks while looking for a job back in their chosen field.

    1. And thank you very much for responding, Kelly. You share some great points. I appreciate your time and input here.