In the post called Setting Your Freelance Writing Fees – Part 3 – So, What’s The Number? I quoted Angela Booth’s It really doesn’t matter what others are charging. Truly, saying I agreed with her. Ron Lewis disagreed in a comment I’ve up leveled, with his permission, to a guest post:
Oh my, here’s a touchy subject. I think Angela Booth is crazy to claim it doesn’t matter what others charge. If I’m an aspiring playwright bidding on a project, and Pradeep Shakespeare is available at 2 rupees per word, how is my confidence in my ability going to make that employer pay me more? As if the sheer power of our personalities can make an employer throw money away.
Does everyone understand that writers/marketing people are over-represented in the current corporate lay-offs? If you use the freelance job (bidding) boards, haven’t you noticed how many more bids each project is receiving? The creative staffing firms here in Dallas are shutting down or seriously downsizing. My thoughts:
While it may feel good to pound some hypothetical rate out of your calculator, and work through the rationalization you hope to make to that frugal employer, I wouldn’t bother. The employer could care less about your living expenses, etc. The market and your ability to compete in it determine the rate you will be able to charge.
This is standard Marketing 101 stuff — what will the market pay for what you have to offer. For example, you may be the greatest writer, but without a portfolio, no one will pay you like one. You may have a great portfolio, but if you are horrible at marketing, you won’t earn top dollar.
On the other hand, you can be a lousy writer and still charge top dollar — if you know how to market (believe me, I see it all the time). The sad fact is, because many of our employers can’t write well, they also can’t recognize good writing and will hire a hack with a good sales pitch.
No, in my opinion, to set your rates, you start by figuring out what you can sell. You can fantasize about what you’re worth all you want, but go out there and pitch yourself at enough employers and the market will tell you what you’re worth.
Ideally, if you have the financial means, you start out chasing high paying work and drop your prices until steady work starts coming in. Without financing, you should probably start low, to get some income coming in, and work your way up as you can — but don’t expect first clients to start paying you more. You have to keep chasing higher-paying clients.
Your living expenses, self esteem, etc. only factor in after the market sets your rate. If you can’t live on the rate you can earn (my situation) or your pride can’t stand being low-paid (fortunately, mine can), then you may have to change careers — or slowly go broke, as I am. LOL
On second thought, no, all the rest of you competi-…er, I mean writers, just set your rates at what you think you deserve.