What’s on the iPod: Revelation Blues by The Tallest Man on Earth
If you want to get anything done, just put a vacation on your radar. So far this week I’ve written two articles and I’m talking with two client prospects on various project possibilities. And I’m probably going to be revising content on the first article (client may have some specifics to add), all before Friday.
Good thing — I want to go fishing.
I was reading a truly awful blog recently where one post contradicted another post’s advice. It drives me nuts to see bloggers, especially writers, playing both sides. It’s phony, and it’s not helpful to anyone but the person who’s trying on ideas to see which one is popular. You know a webinar is coming. False prophets are so damaging to our profession.
Some of the advice I saw included accepting/rejecting/accepting content mill work (in that order and over a year or so). I’m not exactly sure why anyone would be so down on content mills only to turn around and suggest them as quick work and then say “No, don’t.” It’s a compromising of standards — both the readers’ and the blogger’s — to talk out both sides of the face. Whatever the reason for the about-face, it brings up a good point of discussion.
When do you relax your standards, and at what point do you stop?
Suppose you’re facing a client who’s looking to hire you for a lot of projects. You state your rate – let’s say it’s $125 an hour. The client balks; he pulls in just $130 an hour himself. Clearly, you two aren’t on the same page. What do you do? That depends on the vibe you’re getting from the client, the amount of work to be done, and the chances you see for a long-term relationship. In that case, suggesting a lower rate in exchange for ongoing work could be a great fit for you both.
Similarly, there are areas in your career and your business where you can allow for some compromise. While it’s fantastic to say “I won’t work for less than $1 a word” if something came along that paid 75 cents a word and was easy, why not?
Just don’t give it away or lower your standards to the point where clients won’t see your value. That’s just stupid. And good luck recovering from it if you do go down that path.
Here are a few areas where you can negotiate:
Price. I’ve done it — I’ve lowered my price in order to secure ongoing work. In one case, I was making $70 an hour for a top-shelf company. However, the workload was steady, and it netted me an extra $2,500 a month. If the total monthly amount you’ll earn is an amount you can live with, and the work isn’t so taxing that it’s all you do, go for it.
Filler work. We’ve all had those times when regular client work dries up, new clients aren’t coming in, and editors aren’t buying our ideas. It’s okay to find some lower-paying stuff — especially if you’re the sole breadwinner — in order to get by. One of my favorite fillers is resume work for resume companies. They find the projects for you and you get paid quickly. Just make sure they pay enough (resume writing isn’t as easy as you’d think). Other possibilities include reputable blogging networks that pay decent money (none of this $20 a post crap or expectations that you’ll babysit that blog post for 24-48 hours).
Project length. Not all compromise has to come from your side, right? So for the client whose budget is about $500 or so less than your rate, why not suggest a smaller slice of the project? Maybe instead of writing it yourself you’ll edit their writing? Or perhaps they’ll agree to a website rewrite where you take on two pages per month? Find ways to break things into bite-sized chunks so clients are able to afford you. The minute you make it affordable, you add instant value to what you do.
Some standards. This is a tough one. There are some personal standards you’ll flat-out refuse to budge on (nor should you), while there are other standards where you’re leaning one direction and not all-in committed. For example, you loathe writing anything religious. No budging there. But that Republican politician and you (you Green Party voter, you) have hit it off personally, so you’re less inclined to turn down his autobiography ghostwriting project. Or the other way around. Only you know which standards you’re wedded to and which ones you’re not. For example, I did write for the Republican because yes, she and I hit it off.
Work hours. I’m a strict 8-to-5 worker because that’s when I have a quiet house and a brain that’s awake. Weekends are mine with a capital MINE. However, there is the occasional client project that comes in Thursday or Friday night — you know the ones — and they desperately need it by Monday before noon. Unless it’s a case of them placing an arbitrary deadline on it or a case where they’ve dragged their feet to the point where their backs are against a wall of their own making, I’ll budge. I’ve handled last-minute articles for clients who just got the okay for a publication, but it has to be there Monday morning. I’ve handled assignments badly bungled by the last freelancer the client hired. There are times when weekends and hours don’t matter.
Writers, where do you see room for compromise in your career or your business?