By Ian Chandler-
I’m a freelance writer who charges professional rates, and clients always ask me to lower my rates. The other day, in fact, I sent a message to a potential client. I gave them my usual rate and got the dreaded question in response: “What’s the best you can do?” It’s always depressing to hear it, and it’s even more depressing to think about its implications.
It’s no surprise that writing has become massively undervalued in recent years, but it’s somewhat surprising to realize how undervalued it’s actually become. A few decades ago, $1 per word would have been a respectable professional rate. Today, writers are lucky if they get paid 30 cents per word.
And this question – “What’s the best you can do?” – reveals what people actually think about writing. Here are three myths that this question creates and what your response should be to each myth:
Myth #1: Less is more.
The first and most unsurprising implication of this question is the client’s vision of quality. They believe that the less they pay, the better. They’re either unwilling or unable to pay for premium writing, but either way, they believe that they shouldn’t have to pay a lot. The “best” price is the cheapest.
The truth: When it comes to writing, more is more. Full-time freelance writers may not have other sources of income. The more they’re paid, the more passionate they’ll be, and they’ll produce better content. That’s not to say writers slack for low-paying jobs, but the truth is that high-paying jobs provide a better impetus for writers. They also set quality standards much higher.
Let your clients know that writing is your job. It’s not a “side hustle;” it’s your lifeblood. Refuse to go lower. Either they’ll respect you and pay what you deserve or you’ll lose a client you didn’t need in the first place.
Myth #2: Writing is no big deal.
With the advent of outsourcing, many people have come to believe that writing can be – and should be – something they can cheaply and quickly acquire. They think anyone can do it. They think writers easily churn out compelling copy in a few minutes and send it off.
The truth: Clients need to know that creating a piece of writing is a painstaking endeavor that requires drafting, editing, and meditating. More work goes into one paragraph than most clients will ever realize.
Make your client aware that writing is not as easy as they think. Explain what you do to create the best content possible, and they’ll respect you for it.
Myth #3: Low rates are fair rates.
This sounds similar to Myth #1, but this myth propagates the idea that writers can survive on next to nothing. This is due to the rise of people from third world countries entering the freelance economy. In other countries, $2 an hour is a decent wage, but for thousands of others, it’s chump change.
A similar idea is that writing for low rates is “perfect for students or someone trying to make money on theside.” But those people see writing as no more than a “side hustle,” so they likely won’t put that much effort into it. You, on the other hand, work day and night to create the best content your client has ever read.
The truth: Tell your client that great writing is not going to be cheap. If writing is your main (or only) source of income, make that clear. And don’t forget to mention how much attention you give to your writing. Tell the client you’re worth more because you do more.
BIO – Ian Chandler is a professional writer and content marketer based in Kent, Ohio. His work has appeared on Multiply Authority, The Penny Hoarder, HowlRound, TechGyo, and more. He specializes in creating professional yet approachable content about writing, technology, and men’s fashion/lifestyles. Read more about him at http://ianchandlerwriting.com/.