Roving Report: How to Charge What You’re Worth

When it comes to pricing, freelancers have a tendency to err by quoting a price that’s too low.

Veteran freelance copywriter Steve Slaunwhite recently shared some solutions to this common problem with a group of Wealthy Web Writers.

You can listen to the entire teleconference HERE.

Steve has been an award-winning copywriter since 1995, specializing in B2B (Business-to-Business). He’s written books, including The Everything Guide to Writing Copy and The Wealthy Freelancer.  He’s also authored AWAI programs on B2B copywriting.

Steve doesn’t think the pricing issue is unique to freelance writers. “Any professional who’s offering a professional service of any kind struggles with pricing,” he pointed out.

Some professions have well-established fee structures, like architecture and engineering. In copywriting, though, prices are “all over the map,” so writers struggle to price their services fairly. Most of us worry that we’ll price ourselves out of a job if we quote a number that’s too high.

Steve believes the solution is confidence. As a professional, you must be able to discuss pricing with confidence, and quote your price in a confident way.

Take two important steps to start building your confidence:

  1. Figure out the going rate for the market you’re in
  2. Create a pricing strategy

That’s not always easy.

Some writers earn $25 for a blog post, while others command a $500 or $1,000 fee. What makes the difference?

“There’s definitely a large, low-paying market out there,” Steve reminded us, “but there’s also a large, good-paying market. If you want to be successful as a web writer, focus on the good-paying market.”

Clients in the market that pays well don’t want to pay low rates, Steve explained. They want to pay professional rates for professional writing.

If a marketing manager for a mid-sized company has a $4,000 budget to pay a copywriter for rewriting a website, she wants to find a $4,000 copywriter. She won’t even talk to the person charging $200.

In fact, if you approach her with a deal, she’ll assume you’re an amateur. She’s looking for a professional.

That’s the market you should focus on.

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Susanna Perkins

Susanna was dragged back, kicking and screaming, into freelancing after losing her job in the banking meltdown in March, '09. One 3-month stint in an appalling temp job persuaded her to get serious about establishing herself as web writer. In March, 2012, she moved to a small town in Panama with her husband and three small dogs. After enjoying the writer's life in the culture of "buenas" and "mañana" for 2-1/2 years, she's returned to the US. At least for now.

5 Comments

  • Hi,

    I am Shirish, 55, a professional from service sector
    and would like to focus on writing as hobby and also
    as a means to earn extra income to support ever growing
    financial requirements.

    I have become a member of wealthy web writer platform
    and got your contact from the site. You being an
    experienced writer, I would like to know about your
    experience of writing activity. Did you ever come
    across a situation when you have written articles with
    great effort and your client has devalued your work or
    refused to pay the assured rewards? In such a case,
    what possible remedy can be available to a writer?
    Is such a problem not obvious when you are working for
    a client from a remote or distant area? The value of
    your work can be ‘conveniently’ ignored just to save
    the costs under the pretext that the work is of a
    lower quality than what was expected. Is it not so?
    In such cases, what a writer can do?

    Shirish Babtiwale

    • Hi Shirish,

      As a freelance web writer, there is a risk that you’ll run into a client who tries to avoid paying you. It’s happened to me a couple of times, but it’s been few and far between all the great clients I’ve worked with who are happy to pay and then contract me for more work. I just want to underscore that the kind of situation you’re asking about is the exception, definitely not the norm. You can protect yourself, by asking new clients to sign a contract agreeing to a fee and payment schedule. Many writers charge half up front and half on completion which helps insulate you. I know quite a few writers who request full payment up front. When a client doesn’t seem eager to pay, persistent follow up usually does the trick. If they flat tell you they are refusing payment, at that time, you can go through collections or small claims court or cut your losses and walk away.

      • Heather,

        Well, it has finally happened. After striking out on my own, I have secured a client for two B2B projects; a re-write of a landing page and a thin website. Once these are finished, they will want case studies, email campaigns, et al. I have a verbal commitment but have yet to provide a quote and an engagement agreement; I have committed to provide this by week end.

        In all candor, once the thrill wore off, I have swallowed hard, taken a deep breath and thought.. “OK, now what?”. In addition to the anxiety of producing excellent copy, I have an additional concern about how much to charge.

        I have put together an engagement agreement with 25% to start, 40% upon delivery, and 35% upon acceptance; committing to two edits. However, I only have a vague idea of what to charge.

        Any guidance will put you on my ‘eternally indebted’ list.

        Thanks for any help,
        Ron Zetterberg

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