Get the Freelance Fees You Deserve


Image by seanmcmenemy via Flickr

A recent post by Jennifer Mattern got me thinking about money.  In it she said that “nonprofit should not equal non-paying.”  In the comments, I mentioned the story of a would-be prospect of mine.  They wanted someone to write b2b marketing copy (hey, I can do that).  So far, so good.

Then, they asked for two spec writing samples (two marketing emails).  I wrote back saying I was happy to share prior examples of my work, but how much would I be paid for the custom stuff?

I think I completely flummoxed them.  The woman went to her boss for help – and sent me the email by mistake!  It seems I was the first person to ask such questions and she had no idea what to do.

When she did reach her boss, the answer was that they wanted to see if my writing was “compatible” before they hired me.  I offered (and sent) pre-existing samples instead.  Funny, I didn’t get the gig – but I bet there were some freelancers who fell for that trick.  Voila, the freelancers get screwed and the company gets free copy.

Know your own worth

If you don’t think you’re worth a respectable rate, neither will your prospects or clients.  Your work is worth something.  Charge for it.  The only exception is if you are doing something for a cause you believe in, or if you’re just starting out and need to build up a portfolio. Even then, make sure you get public recognition and testimonials for your efforts.

Offer great value for your work

Make your deal so amazingly great, they’d be crazy not to take it.  For example, offer a training package that includes a how-to ebook, a step-by-step video, a transcript, and free graphic files for $150.  It sounds good, doesn’t it? And you don’t even know what it is!

Compare and frame your prices

Compare your price to the price of something your prospect already buys regularly (less than a tank of gas, or less than dinner out with the kids).

Or, frame the price.  “I charge $300 an hour for personal consultations, but you can buy a training package for $150.”  The package seems cheap compared to the expensive consultation.

Have you had clients or prospects try to get you to write for free?  Or try to nickel and dime you for extra revisions or extra work?  What did you do? Share your tips and stories in the comments.

2 thoughts on “Get the Freelance Fees You Deserve

  1. Jodi, I send out a fair number of job inquiries for one-off copywriting gigs I see posted in various places. I am less and less surprised now by the percentage of requests by the potential clients to essentially provide a “sample” for them that’s a full-on writing assignment, as you describe above. A while back, I did supply some new work for these guys, but wised up about it later.

    I don’t know if all of them were scamming for free copy, but I’m sure some were. And there’s no reason why any of them couldn’t discern from sample marketing pieces of the same type what kind of content they would be getting from me, rather than demanding new, for free.


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