Many freelance writers feel uneasy at the thought of having to negotiate prices with clients, but it’s an important skill to have if you plan on becoming a freelance writer. It can help you secure higher fees and protect you from savvy clients who know how to negotiate well.
However, setting the right price can be difficult. If you charge too much, you might miss out on good projects, but you also don’t want to work for peanuts. Here, we’ll look at various ways to set and negotiate the right price for your work.
The Problem with Charging Hourly Rates
Some writers think that charging by the hour is the best way to get paid what they think they’re worth, but this approach has various downsides.
First, you don’t know how long each project will take before you start it. Second, many clients don’t like paying by the hour because some writers take advantage and drag out the project to increase the fee.
For these reasons, we’re going to assume you’re trying to negotiate a fixed price (either per piece or per word) for each project. It’s what we at Constant Content recommend, and it’s what most clients prefer. There are a few things you need to consider before you arrive at the right price.
1. The Project Details
The key to pricing accurately is having a good idea of how long a job will take to complete. If the initial brief is too vague, you need to find out the following:
- What is the approximate word count of the project?
- What is the project deadline?
- Who is the content aimed at, and what is the purpose of it?
- Will the client provide any resources, or will you be doing all the research?
The more answers you can get upfront, the more clear you’ll be about the scope of the project. If you can’t get answers to these questions, the client is probably not someone you want to work with anyhow.
You can now estimate how long the project will take. Every writer works at their own pace, so you can only go on personal experience.
2. The Commercial Benefits
It’s helpful to view each project from a commercial perspective. Are you producing an article for a small business blog with a relatively small audience? Or are you writing a white paper for a large organization? In the second case, your content is more valuable commercially, so the client will expect you to charge more.
3. The Competition
How much are other writers charging for similar work?
There’s actually no standard rate for any type of work; it depends on the type of job, the client’s budget, the writer’s experience, and many other factors.
The question is: what do you offer in terms of knowledge, experience, and writing ability? The answer to this should dictate how high you set your rates. Don’t always feel like you have to undercut everyone else; clients are happy to pay more for quality writers because they’re harder to find.
4. The Long-Term Benefits
It’s not just the price you have to consider. A client might offer you regular work, or give you a reference, in which case you might consider lowering your rates.
When you’re starting out as a freelancer, charging less can be a worthwhile tactic for growing your portfolio and getting referrals.
Negotiating the Best Deal
Most clients today recognize the value of quality content and won’t mind if you try to negotiate a higher fee.
Once you’ve seen the project details, worked out how long it will take, assessed the commercial benefits of the content, looked at the competition, and taken into account other benefits, you can make a proposal that maximizes your earning potential without offending the client.
Eight Tips on Negotiating Higher Rates
- If you have a good knowledge of the subject matter, highlight your experience and qualifications, if any.
- If the client wants a quick turnaround, say you’ll need to charge more because you’re in demand and have other work commitments.
- Try to get the client to offer their fee first; it could be higher than you expect.
- If a client won’t give you a price, make an offer that’s higher than you would normally charge. Use this as a starting point for negotiations.
- Don’t give a price until you have all the details about a project.
- If you think the fee is too low, don’t be afraid to ask for more and explain why. You might be surprised at how many clients will return with a better offer. If you’re unsuccessful, at least you tried.
- Be confident. Some clients might take advantage of your insecurities, so stick up for yourself and your work.
- If the client won’t pay a higher price, ask them if they could shorten the length of the project or extend the deadline to justify the lower price.
Closing the Deal
If you treat clients with respect and are transparent in your negotiations, clients are less likely to undervalue your work and are more likely to ask for your services in the future.
Remember that the rate you negotiate is not permanent; you can always renegotiate your prices for future work. Follow these suggestions and start negotiating with confidence. The more you do it, the easier it will become.
Looking to land your next freelance writing client? Constant Content makes it easy for you to sell articles and land writing clients.