What I’m listening to: Where the Streets Have No Name by U2
A long-term project I just started a few months ago may be coming to a close, and about three months shy of when it was due to end. Ouch. There goes about $9K in earnings.
However, as one door closes, another opens. A note came in from a new client, and I managed a magazine article assignment, which should make a sizable dent in that loss.
I was reading some forum comments on LinkedIn last week, and it made me realize just how much crap we freelance writers face when we’re starting a freelance writing business. There are things we still deal with, but when you look back, it’s jarring to see just how much we put up with, willingly or otherwise, when we first started.
It’s also rather jarring, in a good way, to see the impact of raising your freelance rate. Thinking back on my own career, I recognized just how increasing my rate changed my business for the better.
When you increase your rate, you leave behind:
Nonpaying clients. It sounds nuts, but it’s true. I’ve talked with a number of writers who experienced this same result, so I know it’s not just my experience. Since I’ve raised my rate, I’ve had one client not pay, and in that case she paid half (and pulled in a lawyer for some odd reason). Wait, make that two — I had a resume client not pay. That one is a total loss, but luckily not much. The point is when you charge like a professional, clients who agree to your price are usually a much higher level of professional. They pay their bills.
Push-back on price. Don’t you tire of clients who argue that $50 an hour is far too high? Then start charging $100 an hour, or $125, or … when you appeal to people based on your rate, money will always be the primary focus of your relationship. Clients do have budgets, but it should be understood that your skills come with a set price.
Overly demanding clients. I don’t know what it is, but it seems that the less your clients are paying for you, the more they expect. Example: one client was contracted to pay less for blog posts and more for press releases. After one press release, he actually said “We see no difference between a blog post and a release, so we’ll be paying you the same for both.” (Note: he didn’t. He’d signed a contract, and I reminded him of it — and dropped him after the check cleared).
That’s not to say higher-paying clients won’t be demanding, but if you want to see nitpicking to the nth degree, charge less for your skills.
Lack of respect. I remember far too many times when a client would either lead with “It’s an easy job for the right person” or haul in their buddies to critique my work (and in that case, the buddies always win). I’ve been called a hack, unprofessional (ironic thing was this was a woman who never showed up for her own conference calls), unavailable (at 11 pm? Damn right I am). At the pay rate I’m charging now, I’ve avoided most of it. Not all, for there’s always someone who will want to control the content, but the occurrences have gone down dramatically.
Cheapskates. Here’s why that’s important — those clients paying you too little are spreading the word about how “cheap” you are. Do you really want to stay at that level? Not only that, clients like this don’t understand how to work with freelancers. You’ll see more “Oh, and one more thing” scope creep that increases your work without increasing your pay.
Writers, what did you leave behind when you raised your rate?
Is your rate at the level you’d like it to be? Why or why not?