Being a writer is hard. Our work tends to be undervalued.
There are lots of reasons for that and I’m not going to go into them. You deserve the writer rate that you want. One of the worst things is giving a potential writing client your rate and then finding out they want to half it.
Yes it happens! Even after seven years in the business it happens.
I don’t tend to get as annoyed or scared as I used to. I know that if a client doesn’t want to pay my writer rate then they’re likely not the writing client for me. But if you’re just starting out, you may not want to burn bridges.
You need to take other steps. Here are 5 things that you can do when a potential (or even current) writing client wants to half your rates.
#1. Walk Away
Of course, the first is to walk away. This is something I did recently. I just knew that negotiating wasn’t going to lead to anything good.
However, the client did want to drop from the $50 per piece quote to $20. That’s more than half the rate and works out as a $30 reduction.
If I quoted $15 and the client wanted around $7.50 or $10, then I may have moved onto option two. But as it was, I wasn’t in the mood to negotiate. I made it clear that the budget didn’t align with my services and moved on.
When walking away, I do recommend being polite. If you really want to tell them what you think about their offers, be tactical with it. I sometimes share that my rate is essential for the quality and experience that I provide, and finish with something along the lines of “if you ever have the budget, you know where I am.”
#2. Negotiate to Your Lowest Offer
Whenever I quote a rate, I quote higher than my bare minimum that I need to make. To do this, I work out my hourly rate and use that to determine a project cost. Then I add at least $10 on top, depending on the project and the potential writing client.
This gives me some wiggle room if a client comes in with a lower budget. Depending on just how low the budget is then I will start negotiations.
However, if I get some bad vibes from the potential client, I won’t bother starting the negotiations and will stick with step one. These bad vibes are things I’ve gained over the years of writing.
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#3. Take the Writing Rate Offered
If you really need to get the foot in the door or you really are interested in a project, you may want to take the rate. This isn’t something I always advise, but it would depend on the client.
If this is a short-term project that you know will give you a good testimonial afterwards, the lower rate could be worth it for the exposure and the boost to further your writing career.
This is something only you can determine.
When I take a lower rate than I would ideally want, I consider the clout of the site. If it’s a brand name that everyone in the industry knows about, then I’ll take it for the byline. I recently took on work for a site that was nowhere near worth it for the time, but it’s a byline that I can share within the entertainment industry.
#4. Offer Short-Term with Increases Later
There will be plenty of potential writing clients who offer you a low rate and say it’s “short term.” They usually say that the rate will increase when the revenue from the site goes up.
Please don’t fall into this trap.
What you really want is to make it clear on your end just how “short term” something is. I tend to do 1-3 month long contracts. If the rate is small, I’ll do just a 1 month contract and make it clear that my rate will increase afterwards. If they hesitate at all or I get a bad vibe, I will just walk away.
When it comes to increasing your rate, make sure you do speak to them about that. Share your new contract with them. Those that really are after cheap content will make themselves known at this point.
#5. Recommend Someone Else
There will be writers out there who want a lower rate than you. This is just the way the world works.
The good news is you may have writer friends that you can recommend for a project. When I find a client that wants to pay half my writer rate, I will consider whether they seem to be genuine. If I don’t get red flags but can’t reduce my rate to theirs, I will recommend a writer friend who may be able to take them on.
This is an excellent way to keep writer friends happy. When they have a client they are unable to work with, they may pass your details on. You also keep the potential writing client happy, as they’re not instantly back at the drawing board.
You have five choices when it comes to a potential writing client wanting a much lower rate. It’s up to you which one you choose to make. Don’t feel bad whichever one it is. Just know that you made the right choice for you.
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