5 Ways to Sell Your Writing Value

dollar-bling-2-1547796-1279x1919What I’m listening to: Light as the Breeze by Leonard Cohen

Looking back, I’m glad that week is over. I loathe politics, and even more so now. I saw people I thought were decent humans become these taunting, gloating, name-calling animals. I saw posts on Facebook that said “Let’s move on and come together” and in the same breath, the poster was labeling, whining about whiny liberals, and generally bullying friends and relatives.

Hence, I’m on a Facebook hiatus. When I return, I will be quietly losing some people off my friend list. I don’t want “friends” like that in my life. We can have differences of opinion, but my boundary is when the bitching won’t stop.

Amid the chaos that was last week, I was working on a client project that was intriguing. The goal was to show people why price isn’t the best way to buy, particularly the product that this client is selling.

You know me — I started thinking about how that applies to the freelance writing business.

I don’t know one freelance writer who hasn’t faced a client who argues the price. Not negotiates — negotiating is part of the process — but arguing. “That’s outrageous” or “No, you need to be charging this much…” or some equally obtrusive or guilt-laden statement designed to shame you into accepting much less than you should. While I think those types of clients are best avoided, there are the clients who simply aren’t able to make a decision. They doubt. Hesitate. Freeze up.

It’s a shock every time it happens, though by now we ought to be used to it. We can prepare for it. In fact, we should. Here are some ways to express the value you bring to every project:

Your background. You’ve probably built up quite a portfolio, and I’d bet much of it tends to fall into one area or category. Show your six years of online copywriting or eight years of corporate communications or eleven years of writing for the nursing industry. Before you get into any conversation with your client-to-be, know what it is they do and what you’ve done that relates to their business.

Your differentiator. Like a specialty or a niche, but a little more specific. Mine is I can deliver on-point content for the insurance/risk management world that comes from being part of the industry. I won’t say that outright, but it’s the undercurrent of every conversation, from my confidence to my connections to my questions. Which brings me to…

Your questions. Yes, the questions you ask your potential client are, in some ways, more important than your elevator pitch. Consider this: your client has a problem and wants someone to solve it. If you ask the right questions about the project, interject a “Have you tried…what was the result?” you show that you’ve already engaged in trying to solve their problem. That’s one powerful way to give your client the confidence to trust you.

Your connectedness. It takes revealing just a few of my contacts (yes, I name-drop when necessary) to show that I’m connected and engaged. Clients seek writers who aren’t just writing on demand. They want a writer who gets it and who can translate easily their needs into great content.

Your track record. If you have a client who isn’t exactly convinced, have a few client testimonials on hand. Share clips that show your ability to tackle the project. Make sure to relate how long you’ve been doing this sort of project or how long your career spans.

Writers, how tough has it been to convey your value to clients?
What’s worked for you?
How do you address client hesitation?

About the author




  • Devon Ellington November 14, 2016 at 9:59 am

    I suppose it’s best we learn sooner, rather than later, who would throw us into the incinerator.

    I don’t know about you, but I intend to enjoy this last holiday season before the Apocalypse! 😉

    To answer your question: I stopped trying to be what “they” want and am completely myself. I convey my strengths and the unique skills I can bring to the table. Either it’s a good fit with the client, or it’s not.

    I can mimic voice well, and i have no problem doing that for a client. But there are clients who want something far more “fake corporate” than I do. Also, if an assignment goes against my integrity, I don’t take the job, for instance, I don’t design “lifestyle campaigns” for tobacco companies. Unlike far too many people in so-called “public service”, I don’t take the job and then try to make them change to fit my beliefs. I graciously say no, thank you, and we both move on.

    Clients who want something fresh, new, and unique are the best fits for me. Or who want to put a new, humorous spin on something vintage.

    • lwidmer November 14, 2016 at 3:45 pm

      Devon, I agree. My dad has a saying about elections that I’ll share with you in private (not for public consumption, believe me!).

      I agree with you on the being genuine point, too. I just posted on Peter Bowerman’s blog that I’m older, wiser, and too tired to fuss with people. They either fit or they don’t, and I don’t fault them if they feel we’re not a match.

      I don’t like fake corporate speak, either. It’s not doing them any favors, and it drains the life out of me. That’s my sign that I should be advising them on what may not be working for them.

  • Paula Hendrickson November 14, 2016 at 12:34 pm

    Not long ago, a client I do occasional copy writing and editing for had be write several executive bios. A week or so later a straggler came in (and a week after that another straggler). It’s always annoying when this particular client tacks more stuff on at the last minute, and because I was so busy I was in the position of power. I told them how much it would cost (almost the same amount as a batch of four bios I’d done the week before), and when I could do it. Because they were in a bind, they didn’t argue. Funny how the stragglers became far less annoying when the client had to pay a premium because they weren’t included in the initial group. There’s no reason I should pay the price for their disorganization.

    • lwidmer November 14, 2016 at 3:48 pm

      Paula, that’s exactly how to handle it! I don’t mind helping clients out, but the last-minute stuff, if it’s a pattern, is too disruptive to the schedule. I can’t drop any client’s project for continued last-minute projects. I think you did it right — if it’s going to mess up your schedule, then you need to be compensated for that (for now you’re working through the night or a weekend).