© Ugur Akinci
Here is something I’ve learned the hard way: if you publish or quote a fixed hourly rate or a fixed fee for different types of writing services, you’ll end up attracting the cheapest and hardest clients and you’ll never make money in this freelance writing business.
We writers are generally very nice people (aren’t we?). We are in general bookish people. We love to read and write and learn and marvel at the world we’re living in. I think it’s safe to say that “love” (and not money) is our deepest core emotion.
However that kind of psychological make-up also renders us vulnerable out there in the market place since money is made through Power and Control. No matter how good a writer you are if you don’t control your clients, if you allow your clients to control you, you’ll starve. Because you won’t get paid or you’ll be paid just peanuts. And soon you’ll start looking around for another line of work for yourself.
The clients usually ask “what’s your hourly rate?” mostly because they don’t know what else to ask and they don’t know how else to justify the budget of their project.
If you quote a fee just like that on the spot, you either won’t get the job or you’ll get a very difficult client for yourself who will end up forcing you to write one draft after another and will never be satisfied with the end product.
(Public Domain photo Courtesy of Wikipedia)
When you quote a price in any sales situation without first pre-selling the client on the VALUE that you will bring into the relationship, the price alone will never satisfy the client.
If you do not first convince your customer about the VALUE you’ll be injecting into the project, they will either dismiss you as a cheap amateur (if your rate comes across as too low) or will start hunting for a more “affordable” write (if your rate comes across as too high).
By quoting a fee upfront you’ll never be able to convince them that if they are smart enough they would not necessarily hire the writer with the lowest hourly rate but a writer who is perfect for the job… Unless you communicate that successfully, unless you insist on a meaningful opportunity to communicate that successfully, you’ll never make significant money in this business.
Think about these two facts until you convince yourself of their truth:
1) Even in the heart of a recession, people have enough money to pay you at your own rate. If you are not paid enough it’s not because people don’t have money but because you did not communicate your value well enough.
2) People rate more expensive items and services more highly. In general they think and genuinely feel that a more expensive product is more valuable than a cheaper product with exactly the same characteristics.
In California a scientific test was conducted on athletes who use performance enhancing sports drinks. Two comparable groups of athletes were given exactly the same drink, with identical chemical composition. But one group was told that it was a very expensive product, developed after long years of research at the lab. The other control group was fed the story that it was a “very affordable” drink bought by the truckload from a warehouse liquidation sale.
Would you believe that the group who were sold the expensive product athletically performed much better than the other control group?!
If you want happy clients, charge them what you are worth, but only AFTER you have a chance to study the project and explain (pre-sell) the kind of value you’d bring to the overall assignment as a trained and successful professional.
Make the case that you’re not a “Cost Center” but a “Profit Center” for the business in question. Otherwise you’ll be chasing one $50 dollar hack job after another on job bidding sites since there’s no end to lowering your fee.
You can compete for value in life but never for price. Remember that.