Talking Money With Clients: Discussing Initial Pay Rates

When I heard that Jennifer Mattern was going on a blog tour I immediately asked her include The Writing Base in her tour. She agreed and we decided upon talking money with freelance writing clients as a topic.

The guest post I received from her was a gold mine of information and divided into three sections that I felt deserve a post of their own.

Her post has now turned into a guest post series –  the first of which ‘Discussing Initial Pay Rates’ you can read below.

As a freelance writer, you’re a business owner. Dealing with money is an important part of running a business. Yet some freelancers enjoy the writing side of the business but aren’t comfortable talking money with their clients. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to make this process less nerve-wracking.

Typically, there are three common situations when freelance writers need to effectively talk money with clients: Discussing initial pay rates, increasing their rates and dealing with unpaid invoices

Today we’re tackling the first financial hurdle freelance writers face.

Discussing Initial Pay Rates

The one financial issue I see most freelance writers struggle with is naming their rates. Either they set rates lower than they should or get nervous when they have to quote prospects with higher rates.

Here are a few tips to get over the fear:

Set your rates according to your needs

Set your rates based on what you need to earn and what you can realistically charge as a premium based on your experience and credentials. Then don’t worry about what the masses charge.

Not all writers are your competition, and someone is only in your target market if they can afford to pay your rates. Focus on finding those prospects and talking about rates up front won’t be such a worry.

Know the value of your work

Know what value you bring to the table (the benefits you offer the client — not just a service list). When you can convey value and show that your work is more valuable than work provided by a low-end freelancer, you’ll find much less resistance to your rates.

For example, a sales letter writer could convey value by sharing past conversion histories. A press release writer could do that by mentioning major media pickups their releases have gotten for clients. A blogger could show value by noting traffic and subscriber increases a client’s blog saw after they began writing authoritative content for the site.

Publish your rates

Publish your rates on your professional website (and for that matter, have a professional website). I’ve found that when I publish rates online it weeds out most of the low-paying clients. I’m contacted by people who know my rates going in, know those rates are fair based on the services provided, and who are prepared to pay them if they hire me.

If you fall into the “but all rates are different for different projects” group, that doesn’t mean you can’t post rates. Post a range instead — like “$2100 – $4500 per white paper” — so you still have flexibility to make a quote based on project specs.

Do you have trouble talking money with clients? How do you do it?

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