You just got a new lead. In the midst of all of the excitement of possibly gaining a new customer and making more money, you start to feel that familiar feeling in the pit of your stomach.
Goddammit, you’re gonna have to have that dreaded conversation again. The one about pricing.
For most of us, figuring out our rates and discussing them with clients is the worst. There’s always that worry that as soon as you mention money the client will disappear, or tell you straight to your face that you’re not worth that much.
We all remember those days starting out when we’d see job ads demanding what sounded like an obscene amount of work for a tiny payoff and thought “is it even possible to make money at this?” (Then we discovered people like Sophie and Carol Tice and learned better.)
Here’s the problem: jobs like that can only exist as long as there are writers still grossly undervaluing their services. As professional bloggers, our biggest competition is not other professional writers, it’s the mistaken mentality that writing is cheap.
If you’re not charging enough, you’re part of the problem. If you’ve been hesitant to start demanding what you’re worth during that dreaded conversation, there are 5 good reasons why you owe it to the rest of us to start.
1: Blogging is more valuable than ever to businesses.
Google doesn’t like bad writing because people don’t like bad writing.
If a business is interested in effective marketing these days, a blog with good, valuable writing in it is crucial. The value a good blogger brings to a business in terms of traffic, reputation, and leads is worth paying good money for.
2: It’s time to squash the cheap writing mentality of the content mills.
To the temporary detriment of our profession, for a while Google didn’t much mind bad writing (or rather, hadn’t figured out how to distinguish it from the good stuff yet). The businesses designed to crank out tons of cheap articles and blog posts to take advantage of this are having problems now, but they set a dangerous precedent in pricing.
Businesses accustomed to paying $20 (or less) for 500 words need to learn what the rest of the marketing world has already figured out: cheap content will hurt rather than help them, and content worth publishing is worth paying for.
3: Trying to undercut other writers hurts the whole profession.
If you try to get business by being the cheapest, you’ll likely find yourself ready to give up after months of exhaustion and poverty. Lowering your rates is a terrible career strategy for you, and it hurts other writers who are trying to run a quality business but keep encountering companies expecting them to work for less. If you’re no good at writing, find another profession. If you are good, then you deserve to get paid a fair rate for your skill.
4: If we charge too little, we don’t have the time we need to learn more.
This is the cycle many beginners get stuck in. If you spend all your time working for low-paying clients just to get by, you don’t have time to improve your fate. Clients don’t benefit from a writer who’s exhausted, over-strained and failing to keep their skills up-to-date.
You should bring to the table:
- writing ability (obviously!)
- research skills
- knowledge of the best marketing tactics and persuasive techniques
- an evolving knowledge of what’s going on in the fields you’re writing about
- a knack for writing good headlines and structuring posts for easy online reading
- relationships with other bloggers and experts in your fields
Without all that, it’s possible you’re not offering much more than your clients could do themselves.
#5: Most businesses don’t know what a good writer costs. It’s our job to teach them.
If the first blogger a business talks to bids low, then every blogger they turn to later —at least, anyone who charges enough to make a living— is going to seem expensive in comparison.
A lot of businesses really don’t know what writing’s worth; they’re figuring out what to expect based on what they hear from us. It’s our job to teach them well, so other writers don’t get stuck hearing those awful, disrespectful words: “A blog post isn’t worth that much.”
And when you do get faced with those words, stick to your guns. Be ready with a simple response about the value you give your clients, along the lines of:
Just keep in mind, my fee comes with the guarantee that all posts will be well-researched, impeccably written, optimized for web readability and search, and delivered on time.
Some prospects will still balk and walk away, but you can rest assured they’re the types who wouldn’t value the work you provide anyway.
Clients worth having will recognize that you are worth that much. We all are.