This guest post, How A Freelance Writer Can Command Higher Rates, is from Nick Mann. Nick is a writer, entrepreneur, and member of the nDash Content Community.
When it comes to payment rates, there’s often a power struggle between freelance writers and their clients.
Freelancers obviously want to earn as much as possible, while clients want to stretch a dollar in order to maximize their ROI.
As a freelance writer, you’ll want to ensure that you’re only working with clients who are paying you what you’re worth. To be honest, there are a lot of “bottom feeders” out there that will try to nickel and dime you. That’s why you need to understand the fundamentals of freelance writer rate negotiation and how to press the right buttons to command solid rates.
Here are the basics.
It’s All About Leverage
Like in most negotiations, the party with the most leverage is the one who’s most likely to come out on top.
So how do you create leverage?
This all boils down to one critical element – perceived value.
Successful writer and blogger Bamidele Onibalusi eloquently defines this term as “what your clients feel you’re worth even before they commission you to work on your first project with them. It is their overall perception of your worth, and it will often influence how much you can earn.”
In other words, a potential client’s perception of you will essentially dictate how much they’re willing to pay.
Keep in mind that it doesn’t really matter how great (or mediocre) of a writer you think you are. It only matters how good of a writer the potential client thinks you are.
In order to create leverage, you need to amplify your perceived value, which can be done in a variety of ways, including:
- Having a professional website/portfolio
- Being able to provide high-quality, well-written samples
- Being featured on high-profile websites and publications
- Having a sizable social media following
Ideally, you’ll have a high perceived value because this is the key to getting the rates you want.
If you don’t, then you should start taking steps to increase your perceived value.
Come to the Table With a High and Low Number in Mind
So let’s say that a potential client is interested in you and vice versa. Before you start discussing numbers, you’ll want to know two key things – what your ideal rate is and what the lowest rate you’re willing to take is.
Because there are different payment formats, you’ll want to crunch some numbers on three key formats ahead of time.
- Per hour basis
- Per piece basis
- Per word basis
Once you know what your ideal rate is and what the lowest you’re willing to take is on all three of these formats, you can enter the negotiating process informed and with confidence.
You should also be willing to walk away if necessary because you don’t want to do business with a client who’s clearly trying to lowball you. It’s really hard to make long-term progress if you don’t stand up for yourself.
Get the Client to Bite First
The key to successful negotiation is to get the other person to name their price first. This gives you an idea of what they have in mind and increases your odds of landing a favorable rate.
So how do you get them to bite first?
I suggest saying something like, “What kind of budget do you have in mind?”
It’s simple and to the point. However, many savvy clients will deliberately avoid giving their rate away, and they’ll want to feel you out before giving an answer.
Start High and Work Your Way Down
When there’s no getting around being the first one to name a rate, you’ll want to start on the high end so that you’ll have a bit of wiggle room to make a favorable compromise and ultimately meet somewhere in the middle.
Say your ideal rate is $75 for a 750-word blog post, and the lowest you’ll go is $40. You might want to start somewhere around $90 so that the potential client’s counter will align more with your goal.
If they completely reject your offer, then the chances are good that they would reject a lower offer as well. However, if they’re truly interested and someone worth working with, they will give you a reasonable counteroffer.
With any luck, you’ll be able to strike a deal that’s beneficial to both parties.
The trick is to be assertive and find the best possible deal without getting so greedy that you ruin your chances of working with a great client.
When you break it all down, effective freelance writer rate negotiation is contingent upon three vital elements. Creating leverage by establishing high perceived value, having a high and low number in mind, and ultimately reaching a deal that works for both parties.
By following these guidelines, you should be able to command higher rates and take your freelance writing business to the next level.