When I began to inquire about a cleaning service – you know, someone to clean my house so I could have two hours of my life back – I was floored with the going rate. The going rate for cleaning toilets (in my area) is $80 per hour. You want clean laundry? Much more.
This made me reflect on how experts not only price their services, but whether they believe they offer something of value.
This isn’t to say cleaning for a living doesn’t deserve to be paid. It sure does. But writing for a living is worth at least that, don’t you think?
If you search online for the going rate of freelance writers, you’ll be disappointed. Those rates are false. If you accept that $30 an hour for a writing project is fair, you’d be better off cleaning toilets for a living.
How do you counteract the low fees as a professional writer?
First, realize you should only accept the clients who will agree to your rates. Clients have to have a substantial marketing budget. There’s a reason why cleaning services are typically used by people and businesses of means. They have the funds. The rest of us realize that $640 per month to have someone clean our toilets is out of our budget. And likely you can do that yourself. Prospects who think they can do their own writing and don’t need an expert should fend for themselves. And if they question and nitpick your fees, they’ve shown they don’t appreciate your worth. Leave them and move on.
Charge per project
Second, drop the hourly rate. When your plumber is working on a task, are you watching the clock and seeing $100 fly out the window every hour? Don’t do that to clients. Give them a set project fee, which corporate clients prefer. Don’t cheapen your skill by charging per hour.
Appreciate your value
Third, develop confidence in your rates. Don’t leave room for negotiation by your uneasy tone. Email them if you have to. Recognize your value and realize that businesses will pay for good writing. Charging $5,000 – $10,000 for a white paper is normal. Charging $1,200 – $1,500 for a case study is expected. Website copy at minimum should be $450 per page, not including the all-important home page or a landing page. Accepting $50 for a blog post is insulting. Accepting $200 for an article that took you 10 hours to research, interview and complete is mortifying. If you know something is going to take you 10 hours to complete, and you think $100 per hour is fair, tell the client the fee is $1,000 (just don’t tell them how many hours you think it will take you). Your other skills, such as marketing, or bringing in your own graphic designer, should increase your fee too.
Finally, say “no” more often. The more work you accept at insulting rates, that’s additional work you could lose at better rates. Weed through the undesirable, cheap paying clients. Set yourself up as an expert. Produce quality work and enhance your portfolio. The more quality clients you choose to work with, the more you’ll believe you’re worth every penny.
Realize that you will always be surrounded by writers who prefer to feed on the scraps. Choose to eat better.
Bio: J.M. Lacey is an internal communications strategist who helps corporations establish clear communication between executives and leaders and their employees. Visit J.M. Lacey Communications (jmlacey.com) for more about her marketing and branding expertise and her work as a B2B and B2C copywriter.