If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you’ll know that I’m not shy about sharing my mistakes.
When I’m feeling good, I look at mistakes as huge opportunities – to grow and to learn.
But when I’m not feeling in quite such a positive mood my mistakes are misguided, forehead-slapping moments that I ruminate on for days and days.
But recently I’ve come to realise that I’ve been making the same mistake over and over when quoting my rates.
And once I cottoned on to where I was going wrong, my whole approach to quoting rates (mostly to corporate clients), changed.
Are you making this mistake when quoting your rate?
Questions about writing rates are one of the most common topics of conversation amongst freelancers.
Do any of these sound familiar?
“How much should I charge for this blog post?”
“What does this magazine pay freelance writers?”
“How much should freelance writers charge?”
“What is a fair rate for this piece of work?”
“I don’t think this client has a big budget, how much should I charge?”
Whenever I have an opportunity to quote for corporate work, or when an editor asks me my rate, there’s always one question that pops into my mind.
“How much can this client or editor pay?”
That’s an entirely normal thought, right?
We don’t want to quote or charge something that is wildly above or below what a client or editor is willing to pay.
But asking myself that question was a problem.
Because I would turn all kinds of tricks to work out what the client or editor may be able to pay me.
I’d use pricing guides to help me work out what to charge, I’d ask around and see what other freelancers thought and I’d check online databases like Who Pays Writers in Australia (although this is old and outdated now).
I’d often hedge my bets and quote a range, hoping that I would have cast my net wide enough to land a client who could pay me.
Can you see where I’ve gone wrong?
Can you spot my assumptions?
Time and again, I assumed that editors and clients don’t want to pay well for my words.
I know that already, some of you reading this are saying to yourselves, “Of course they don’t! Editors and clients want to get you as cheaply as they can.”
But not all clients and editors are like that.
You do not know what can afford to pay.
I want to say that again because I’ve only just realised how important this is.
You do not know what clients can afford to pay.
Don’t assume they can’t afford you.
Don’t assume you need to lower your rate to get a competitive edge.
Stay out of their wallets and their budget.
Don’t look at their website or LinkedIn profile or advertising in the publication and think you know what they can pay.
We don’t know what people will pay until we put a proposal in front of them.
I know it feels like a delicate balance – we want the work so we don’t want to quote too much, but we also don’t want to sell ourselves short.
While we often know a publication’s rate (and that might be fixed), it’s a different story with corporate clients.
I can’t tell you the number of times that I’ve quoted for something or raised my rates and the client hasn’t even blinked.
It leaves you thinking, “Damn! I could have asked for more.”
I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve come up with a quote but then knocked $200 off because I thought the client would think I was too expensive.
Don’t do that.
Yes, you should know what the average rate is for a writer in your industry who has your skills and experience, but you have to set your own path.
Value yourself and your work. Put a fair price on it.
And then let the client decide.
And if you’re not sure what the signs are that you’re not charging enough, this is how I know.
If I feel resentful of the work I’m doing, it’s probably because I haven’t asked for enough.
How do you set rates? Do you take into consideration what you think the client can pay?