The 30 Day Marketing Boot Camp for Freelance Writers

Why Should Clients Pay You More Just for Doing Your Job?

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on August 11, 2008 in Freelance Writing Business
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I was doing a bit of blog reading this morning, and came across this quote in regards to freelance writers bidding low on writing jobs when they're new:

"A novice copywriter can start with a low price at first. Companies will eventually increase the pay of a copywriter who always submits quality work."

I see this being said to new writers of all varieties all the time, and the fact of the matter is that it's not always true. As a matter of fact, most clients aren't likely to suddenly start paying you more just for doing the job you were contracted to do, because you chose to sucker them in with a low rate that you didn't advertise as temporary.

Frankly, I look at this as being two things:

  1. Stupid - You don't have to bid low to build a reputation anywhere. That's not to say that you should be charging as much as someone with years of experience beyond you or better credentials. However, before you ever bid on any freelance writing gig, you should already know what kinds of projects you want, in what rate ranges, and with what kind of target client market (the ones who need or want your services and who can afford to pay your writing rates). You do nothing but a disservice for yourself if you waste time marketing yourself to folks outside of that target market. Why? Because you don't earn what you need to be earning, and you then have to spend extra (unpaid) time down the road either trying to make a case for being paid more or marketing yourself to the proper market the next time around. Build a portfolio before you start pitching your services, and you can let clients see that you're worth what you're quoting or charging. (And yes, you can build a portfolio with no experience.)
  2. Dishonest - Maybe it's just me, but as far as I'm concerned, if you bid one amount fully planning to up the rates in the near future (and you don't make that clear up front), you're being dishonest with your client. When they hire you, they're thinking they're getting a great deal. If that deal is going to end, you need to make it clear. It's one thing for you to re-adjust your rates yearly as normal business. It's also not a big deal if you're offering a discount for a limited time, on first orders, etc. and you make that clear up front (so the client knows your rates are going up after the introductory order). But it's something else entirely to go into what amounts to a professional relationship with the idea of sucking someone in to milk them for more later. Is that common in marketing? Sure. But you're not simply marketing products here - you're marketing yourself, and that involves building relationships on trust.

So folks (new writers especially) - stop thinking you have to start ridiculously low in the beginning. If you've done your job on the marketing and business planning front before jumping in, there's really no good excuse for it. Don't screw yourself over in the long run by wasting time on the wrong target markets, and don't make yourself look bad in such a heavily referral-driven industry by attempting to "bait" clients with rates you won't be able to live up to after just a few projects.

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Jennifer Mattern is a professional blogger, freelance business writer, and indie author. She began writing for clients in 1999 and started her first blog in 2004.

She owns 3 Beat Media - a publishing and client services company which operates All Indie Writers as well as several other websites and blogs including The Busy Author's Guide and BizAmmo. Jenn comes from a background in online PR and social media consulting, having owned a small PR firm for several years before choosing to pursue a full-time writing and publishing career.

Jenn also writes fiction under multiple pen names in the areas of children's fiction, mysteries, and horror fiction. Jenn is an active member of the Horror Writers Association (HWA) and currently serves as the organization's Assistant Coordinator of Promotions and Social Media.


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The 30 Day Marketing Boot Camp for Freelance Writers

8 Comments

  1. Kimberly August 11, 2008 Reply

    I agree that writers shouldn’t stopp to a bait an switch routine just to reel in a few clients. You’re taking a big risk if you suddenly mark up your rates out of the blue – as you said, a client may consider you dishonest and as a result no longer choose to do business with you fearing another sudden rate hike.

    This happens from the client side of things as well – a client advertises a low paying job promising high pay rates as time goes on if high quality work is submitted. Many times it just doesn’t end up happening that way.

  2. crm August 11, 2008 Reply

    Great article, nice tips for new writers. Its really appreciating. You really have a way with words.

  3. freelance writer August 11, 2008 Reply

    Great Article,
    Thanks for giving these useful tips. If you are well planed about your ideas then there will not be a problem of low price. Now a day there is a huge demand of good freelance writers in the market. For that you need good writing skills oral as well as written. This is a time of marketing. Everything require marketing strategies.

  4. Joan Reeves August 12, 2008 Reply

    I have a problem with the entire concept: “A novice copywriter can start with a low price at first. Companies will eventually increase the pay of a copywriter who always submits quality work.”

    1. So many who are willing to take low pay eventually has an impact on all writers and their expectations of being paid a decent wage.

    2. Companies keep a weather eye on the bottom line. Their profit increases if they can get some poor schmuck to consistently produce quality work. Why would they increase their overhead by raising the schmuck?

  5. Katherine August 14, 2008 Reply

    Great advice. I bid low at the beginning because I thought I had to. But when the client wanted repeat work I was hesitant because the rates were VERY low … seems like you have a greater potential of finding repeat clients if you charge your true rate from the beginning.

  6. extreme weight loss August 15, 2008 Reply

    Great advice.I have a problem with the entire concept: “A novice copywriter can start with a low price at first. Companies will eventually increase the pay of a copywriter who always submits quality work.”But You’re taking a big risk if you suddenly mark up your rates out of the blue – as you said, a client may consider you dishonest and as a result no longer choose to do business with you fearing another sudden rate hike……..

  7. Diane August 16, 2008 Reply

    I don’t like bidding sites and actually avoid them now. I got tired of trying to bid on jobs where the poster (employer) wanted to pay $1 or less for 300-500 words. Sorry my time is more valuable than that.

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