"Required reading" for today's smart writer.

"Required reading" for today's smart writer.
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Thursday, February 18, 2016

Should You Disclose Your Fees on Your Web$ite?

In the interest of “transparency,” some scribes have opted to publish their fees on their blogs and websites for business purposes.
The justification being, that “going public” helps to weed out potential clients who cannot afford them, or “tire kickers” who are not serious about securing the services of a professional.

For example, Sharon Hurley Hall does here:
and Williesha Morris, writer and admin assistant does here:
As for me? I personally do not post mine, simply because there are so many variables and “unknowns” to be factored in to creative projects.
There’s time, research, level of complexity, rush jobs, etc.

And here’s where it gets slippery: once you dictate a definite amount, you are morally obligated to honor it, even in cases where you’ve underestimated your time, or a client failed to provide the true scope and range of the project.

It’s happened to me, and I have “lost my shirt” a few times as a result, folks.
Also, rates may differ from person to person, or situation. For instance, I may choose to extend a discount to clients for their loyalty through repeat business, referrals given, or to a struggling non-profit with a worthy cause.
A freelancer’s right, right?
Those who are not savvy to the publishing industry, or to working with freelancers, may not quite understand this. Remind me to tell you about this later. :-)

Still, at the end of the day, each of us must decide what works in our own individual best interest.
Since there are two sides to every coin, I thought I'd toss the topic around with a few professional freelancers, to present a more well-rounded perspective.

Here's what they had to say...

Yuwanda Black

"I err on the side of listing them, for all the reasons I discuss in this post: http://yuwandablack.com/list-freelance-writing-rates-on-website-advice.htm.

The main reason is (as addressed in the article) that it saves time. I'd hate to go through a Q&A with a client without even knowing if we're on the same page about rates from the beginning. Writing SEO content in particular can be sticky because rates are all over the place -- much more than usual. So to separate the tire kickers from potentially serious clients, I list mine."
Michael Priebe
"I am always in favor of posted rates, at least posted base rates with the disclaimer that special requests and additional revisions might require additional fees. I think that clients appreciate the transparency, and I think it helps the writer to avoid wasted time e-mailing back and forth with someone who won't end up using their services."
Karen E. Lange

  "I am undecided on this point. Was going to include pricing when I launch my website in the coming months, but have been rethinking it. On one hand, I can see where providing them offers more info for visitors, on the
other, doing so might, A.) put off potential clients (too high, perhaps) or B.) pin me down more than I'd like. So the jury's still out here. I need to think  more about it, get outside input, read your post, etc." :)

Wendy Burt

"I think it helps save you time by "pre-qualifying" your potential clients. If a potential client knows your fees and contacts you, you know they're serious about hiring you at that rate. It also helps potential clients know if they can afford you and what to expect (e.g., per word includes one round of re-writes if necessary). When I was looking for someone to edit my screenplay, I had no idea if the experts charged $30/hour or $300/hour. I would love to have known so I didn't have to ask!"

Cynthia Clampitt, a travel writer and food historian chimes in here with: 

Magazines and newspapers have stated amounts they pay, either per article or per word, and they don't really care what you charge.
That said, if one had a specific type of writing he or she did -- like newsletters for optometrists or white papers for computer companies --something very focused like that -- then posting rates might make sense --at least if you're well enough known in the field that they want you, specifically, and won't be scared off.
But otherwise, no. I wouldn't post my writing rates, because the rates are
related to what I'm writing and for what outlet and on what schedule."

Henry Jones

"I wouldn't, because of variables involved. Two clients want you to write a book. One has her story in a shoebox full of cassette tapes which needs to be listened to and transcribed. The other gives you an outline and perhaps a stack of many newspaper articles with reference notations on each.
If you posted a flat rate, you would have to honor that. When you start tagging on extras, clients perceive you're trying to jack up the fee. In their minds they found your site and a writer who can write their book for $1500! But after talking and getting details, perhaps a lot more work is involved (plus expenses) which justifies an additional $3,000. They won't be able to see it. They keep in their minds "$1500 for my book."
You're not trying to cheat them, but merely be paid to do what will make the book a success. It's hard to get clients to see your worth and the work you must do."

And last but not least, Marcie Hill shares:
"I don't think freelancers should, because you may have two different audiences that you would charge differently."

There you have it.
I hope that these views have helped to present some needed insight, as well as pros and cons, to enhance your decision making process in the future.

Please feel free to share what's on your mind, too.
Thoughts here?

*A special thanks to all those who weighed in on this timely topic.

Note: Pen and Prosper will be on a brief break. Join me as we resume the fun on March 11th, when we celebrate Women's History Month! 

Image credit: Freedigitalphotos.net


  1. Still weighing the options, so appreciate the insight here. Thanks, Jen, for sharing on this important topic!

  2. Thanks for sharing my comment, Jen. Appreciate it.

  3. Thanks for including a link to my rates page, Jen. I have put most of my rates as guideline prices to leave room for negotiation with the client depending on the parameters of each project. For me, personally, adding prices to my site (which I only did a couple of years ago) has helped start negotiations on price at a different point, which has been good for income.

  4. Hi Sharon!

    You're quite welcome. Much continued success in 2016.

  5. Putting up guideline prices sounds like a good thing to do to me. That way you also have an opportunity to upfront be clear about what can you expect to get, You also are able to explain what goes into it, and tell about the value you will get from the process you use.

    For example we create graphic designs for - among other things - things like Writers Coffee Mugs, -laptop skins, -USB-sticks etc. etc. to help you write every day at your best, and I explain that we combine multiple skills, and techniques to make the designs, and that the designs (like for example the background colors) also frequently are customizable.

    That that way you will get real design, and not a mass product everybody else has.