I’m delighted to introduce Lauri Friedman – another writer buddy of mine.
by Lauri S. Friedman
I’ve been a freelance writer/editor for going on a decade now. But I also subcontract work to other freelancers. This puts me in the unique position of also employing writers, which gives me insight into what gets a prospective employer’s attention. A few points come up over and over again, as I was reminded this week as I searched for writers, editors, and copyeditors for new projects. Today we’ll focus on money because that topic is at the forefront of any deal being brokered.
- Talk about Money. Never act like someone is doing you a favor by paying you. I prefer it when potential subcontractors ask about fees and invoicing protocols in a direct manner and early on – it gives me confidence they are professional. They may love what they do, but ultimately work is work, and work gets paid. There is no reason to talk about money “gracefully” or “respectfully.” Money is part of—the main part of—any deal, and shouldn’t be treated any more sensitively or delicately than word counts, cover art, sidebars, or any other project spec.
This week I was attracted to a potential writer who let me know matter-of-factly that she charges $30 per hour for editing and $50 per hour for writing, and offered me several at-a-glance samples that immediately proved she was worth her rate. She blew out another writer who literally wrote: “I don’t know what your budget is, but I’m sure we can come to some sort of an arrangement. More important to me than the money is the fact that I truly have a deep passion for writing.” A very circuitous and wimpy (not to mention poorly written) way of letting me know that she doesn’t have enough experience to understand that it is OK to want to work for money, rather than because it satisfies a passion.
- Don’t Lowball. When you do talk about money, know what you’re worth and don’t underbid. While value is important, I am not looking to cut corners when I hire. I want to find someone who is worth what they charge because I am hiring them to save me time and headaches. That costs, and I’m willing to pay for it. Anyone in the position of hiring would much rather feel they are getting a high quality person at a reasonable rate than a low quality person at a chintzy rate. Hirers are well aware they get what they pay for, and the overwhelming majority would prefer to pay someone more to get the job done right.
- When Bidding, It Is Better to Aim High. For several obvious reasons, including: the worst the client can say is “that’s more than our budget, how about $X;” because you can always go down but not up; because it helps the client feel they are getting good value. Let’s say you tell me you charge $6,000 for a set of services, but my budget is only $4,000. If we are able agree on $5,000 for the work, I feel I am getting a high quality person for a deal. Had you pitched $4,000 initially, or even $4,500, I probably wouldn’t be as likely to view you as an exceptional person who I was getting at a great price.
- Set Your Prices Somewhere in the Middle. When offered a range of products—whether it be carseats, humidifiers, or ground beef—most people tend to choose the moderately priced option. They worry that buying the cheapest product will either be a poor investment or harm them in some way. They also have a hard time understanding what the most expensive product offers them that the other choices do not.
Remember this when setting your pricing. For example, this week I spoke with three potential copyeditors. “Bob” charged $13 per hour; “Carol” charged $18 per hour; “Stephanie” charged $25 an hour. In the end I hired Carol. Because she has more experience (reflected in both her rate and resume), I am confident she will do a better job than Bob. Yet she is a much better value than Stephanie, who wasn’t able to adequately show me what I would be getting for that extra $7 per hour.
Lauri S. Friedman is the founder of LSF Editorial, a writing, editing, ghostwriting, and packaging company. Check her out at www.lsfeditorial.com.
Image from http://www.sxc.hu