Writing is Worth
experienced freelancer planning to cover something new, negotiating can be a
minefield. If you’re not sure of your ground, it can be difficult to ask for –
and get what you’re worth.
the mental leap. I remember being new to freelancing. Many times, the client
was in the driving seat because I was a terrible
negotiator and felt pretty unsure about whether
any client would really pay what I felt my experience was worth. (When I
started freelancing, I’d already been a professional writer for quite a while,
but my experience was offline in trade magazines, so it felt like starting from
much, because in order for them to make money, they didn’t pay writers very
well. I got valuable online writing experience, but I wasn’t going to get rich
any time soon. Something had to change – and that something was me. I set out
to put myself in a better negotiating position.
a baseline for charging for writing jobs. Since I was mostly working for US clients,
I used the Writer’s Market rates guide as one starting point but I also looked
NUJ Rate for the Job – a database of
what publications have actually paid (Contently
now has something similar)
NUJ Freelance Fees Guide – recommended
rates for different types of writing.
way because it provided a low, middle and high rate. I usually aimed to quote
somewhere north of the middle rate, unless I had clips to support charging the
top rate. (By the way, take the “going rate” with a pinch of salt;
the important thing is whether you feel you are earning what you’re worth.)
been through many incarnations. I designed the first one myself, but it wasn’t
doing a great job of promoting my writing services and social media was still
in its infancy. I switched to WordPress, bought a professional theme, and
tweaked the copy to reflect the skills I could offer. (Looking back, even that
iteration needed some work after a while. Keeping your website fresh and
effective is an ongoing task and I’ve had to update the look and the copy at regular
of external website assessments. This told me how people who might hire me saw
the site. That’s a useful exercise, and if you’re on a budget, you can usually find someone willing to do an
initial assessment in exchange for your email.
an eye to their marketing potential so I could balance my ghostwriting with
work I could take credit for. It’s something I still do. I may not always get
money, but posts that people read, comment on and share multiple
times do more to promote my writing than 100 pitches.
Writing high quality guest articles proves to prospective clients that I can
deliver value – and I don’t have to sell my services. Jenn Mattern would
be proud, as she advocates query free freelancing.
stronger negotiating position, and a while back, I did one more thing. I put
some guideline rates on my site. I don’t mind telling you that for some items,
I wondered whether I had gone too far. But I had a look at the rates charged by
writers of similar experience and went for it.
a good idea what I’m going to quote. And the content on my site and online
portfolios tells them what they will get for each service I offer. When they come to me, I don’t have to argue
about rates – and neither do they. The
conversation is all about what I can deliver for their budget,
rather than whether I’m charging too much.
(After 28 years of writing, I’m tired of that conversation. I’m sure
most of you are too).
and even if you’re not confident about what to charge, you can put yourself in
a position where you don’t have to talk about it. And then you earn your worth,