Reality check: There will always be someone offering cheaper rates than you.
There’s no doubt about it. You might be the cheapest writer on the forum or websites that you frequent, but there’s guaranteed to be someone out there doing what you do for a lower price.
While price is often number one on the list of hiring criteria that clients take into account, it’s also the one thing that you should leave well alone.
Take my advice: set your prices and stick to them. Only change them if absolutely necessary — even then, they should only be going up, not down.
Don’t Race to the Bottom
No matter what industry you’re in, pricing battles can easily end in a race to the bottom.
But you get what you pay for in life, and so do your potential clients. A couple of years back I spent £3 on a pair of headphones. They lasted two weeks before falling to pieces. I then purchased a £120 pair of all-singing all-dancing headphones and I still use them to this day.
Pay peanuts and you’ll get the work of monkeys. It’s important that you know this as a writer, because if you work for less than is reasonable you risk neglecting to put your usual amount of time or effort into the work, leading to a poor end product that makes you and your client look bad.
Don’t do a bad job on a project simply because the pay on offer means you’ll have to rush it to turn a profit. Put your foot down: if people won’t pay your rates, don’t do their work!
Be Memorable in Other Ways
Every business needs a USP: a unique selling point.
If your business doesn’t have a USP that makes it uniquely desirable to your ideal client, the only way you’ll be able to catch anyone’s eye is to offer the lowest price. And as we both know, that leaves you with empty pockets.
Here are five factors that you can use to distinguish yourself from the rest of the pack so that you can set your own rates without fear:
It’s the obvious USP that every business strives for: to be renowned for offering the best quality work. Quality is something that you can’t fake. Your work is either good or it’s not.
Some people see quality as a sign of professional pride, whereas others only strive to provide quality work when they can be bothered. If you want to be the best, you have to offer quality consistently.
Don’t meet deadlines — beat them! Writers are renowned for being terrible when it comes to deadlines. One of the best ways to set yourself apart from other bloggers is to always deliver ahead of time. Clients love it!
When setting deadlines, always consider the worst case scenario and allow plenty of extra time. That way when you finish the work and submit it to the client a couple of days early, they’ll be pleasantly surprised. And if the worst case scenario ever does happen, you’ve built some wiggle room into your deadline so you should still hit the agreed delivery date. Clever, eh?
Increasingly, clients want to bring the work they outsource home. They don’t want to farm it out to the far side of the planet any longer because they don’t always get great results and international communication can be a pain.
If you’re based in a location that will make a potential client’s life easier, make sure they know. The country you live in (or the languages you speak and write in) could sway a client to hire you over someone else.
Your clients appreciate good communication. Most of them want to know every single detail, so much so that you sometimes suspect they’d like daily status reports and a call wishing them goodnight every evening.
While you might not be able to communicate with clients every waking second of the day, make a concerted effort to keep your clients in the loop. They’re the ones paying you, after all. Provide good communication to clients and you’ll be doing better than lots of other freelance writers.
Lots of my clients choose to hire me because they’ve noticed big name clients in my portfolio. If you write for a big brand or individual, make sure everyone knows about it!
All of the Fortune 500 companies I’ve written for can be found right at the front of my portfolio. It looks good to clients and they gain confidence in you when they see you’ve worked with big businesses. If a client specifically asks you to sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) or to exclude their project from your portfolio, though, be receptive to their requests.
What Happens When You Stop the Price Wars?
Set your rates to a level that you think is fair. Once they’re set, stick to your rates stubbornly. Work may be slow to appear at first, but it will come sooner or later.
To give yourself a better opportunity of achieving your desired rates, think about the USPs you can offer to clients and strive to implement them. Don’t just be good at what you do; be the best in your unique way.
About half of your potential clients will shop around and make their decision to hire a freelancer based entirely on price. Some may come back to hire you, some won’t. Don’t lose too much sleep over these clients.
The other half are less inclined to shop around because they’re too busy. If you can hook them in the first instance, they won’t bother looking anywhere else and they’ll simply pay your rates. This reinforces the importance of USPs: your service has to jump out and grab people. Once you’ve captured their attention with the right message, they will pay your rates without question.
I started off writing for the equivalent of $0.01 per word (sometimes even less) just a couple of years ago. By doing everything I’ve just explained to you, I’ve managed to increase my rates up to ten times as much. I no longer worry about whether work will come in, either. I’ve been snowed under with orders from new and repeat clients for almost six months now.
The majority of writers won’t make millions, but it is possible to make a very good living as a freelance blogger, working only the hours that you set for yourself.
The freedom I have as a writer is far more valuable than millions of pounds in the bank.
How much is freedom worth to you?