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Speaking of Price

As many of you know, I’ve been running a series on setting freelance fees. In the way of synchronicity, one of the best small business advisors in the world has just written an illuminating article on the topic.

Mark Silver, who teaches people how to run their businesses with heart and without selling out has published an article called When You Charge More Than You Yourself Can Pay.

The article makes three points that I just love:

  1. First: The Price is Not About You
  2. Second: The Price is Only About You
  3. Money is Not Special
Sure, it seems like those might be contradictory ideas. Mark shows you why they aren’t.

Go read the article (bookmark it for the future if you like it even half as much as I do. (By the way, you may want to poke around his site – he’s got lots of free resources that work well for writers.)

Come back and tell us what you thought of it and why, even if you think both Mark and I are nuts.

By the way, the setting fee series starts here.

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Image from http://www.sxc.hu

{ 25 comments… add one }
  • With so many great writers around it’s starting to get so competitive in the writing industry. I’ve personally purchased articles for $2 each for 500 words! They were absolutely garbage tho, poorly spun. It’s always worth the extra money to get well written content! Thanks for the info!

    • Joe, what do you consider a fair price for decent content?

      • jorgekafkazar

        ‘Fair’ and ‘decent’ are hard to quantify, very subjective. My rule-of-thumb is $49/hour for fair copy. They say, “You only get what you pay for.” The truth is, you get no more than you pay for, and often you get a lot less.

        • Of course they are squishy… exactly why there is no standard. And once in awhile you get more than you pay for imo. 😉

          • jorgekafkazar

            You may be right, Anne, but I can’t come up with a single instance of getting more than I paid for…

            Okay, I once took a spur-of-the-moment flight to Maui for $89. I took one small bag and wore my flip-flops on the plane. Got a free ride to the Royal Lahaina. And later the owner of an in-hotel shop in Honolulu gave me a pair of swim trunks. (I’d forgotten to bring any.)

            • Sounds like you did well on that trip at least! 😉

              • jorgekafkazar

                Probably going again this Fall/Spring. Won’t be $89, though, since we’ll be taking a boat to avoid 5+ hours each way on a plane. Big boat.

                • I always prefer boats to planes! Give us a report when you return if you’d like.

                  • jorgekafkazar

                    Sure, Anne. Not sure of the timing, but I’ll keep you in the loop. My longest boat trip to date is Harwich to Hook of Holland.

                    • I looked that up on google maps… bet sometimes it’s an interesting passage… maybe more times than not.

                    • jorgekafkazar

                      I went to bed early. Many on the tour stayed up and got drunk in the lounge. Something happened, but I wasn’t told exactly what and I didn’t ask. Our tour leader was a lecherous old fart, and I suspect he was involved. He later got drunk-rolled in a strip joint (“The Shocking*”) next to our hotel in Paris.

                      * amazing what you can remember even after 57 years! I recently ran into someone who knew him. Small world.

                    • lol, my boat trips have been quite different. Yours may have the making of a comedic farce.

  • I know the problem — I’ve been there, and I still find it difficult to set prices that I couldn’t afford myself. But I constantly see people around doing this I afford to do, and think it’s perfectly, self-evidently normal that they do.

    One solution is this, I guess:
    As writers, we are supposed to fantasize / visualize / empathize with imaginative characters.

    So, why not try to fantasize our ideal client and the way they feel about money? “Step in their shoes” — which are probably more expensive than ours — and try to get accustomed to talking about larger expenses and fees as something really natural?

  • I need to look at your Setting Fees series. I keep getting all this advice about “don’t charge too much or sell yourself short,” but I don’t know WHAT to charge. It can’t be much since I haven’t done anything yet really.
    .-= Elizabeth West´s last blog ..A Little Naughty… =-.

    • Anne

      Might be more than you expect… go read the series and come back and tell us what you decide.

  • Deb

    These ideas sound fine on paper, but do they work? I deal (on a daily basis) with the question: If people don’t want to pay me, or won’t pay me enough, how do I continue to do what I do (as a service), and why should I do it for “free” ? That service is computer apps training and troubleshooting, not shoeshines…

    • Anne

      Deb, you shouldn’t do it for free… I don’t know where you are but there is a rate range there and you can start in the middle and move up. The article you made the comment on has links at the bottom to other articles on pay and we have a whole category called Dealing With Money. Keep us posted

      • Deb

        Anne,
        Thanks for the reply and the tip about the links. I am just getting started in freelance again (new area – different market), and will definitely let you know my results. I learn so much from the experience of writers such as yourself, and the others who comment on your site, and am happy if my experience will help your other readers who are starting out!

        • Anne

          Glad the site is working for you!

  • True, but not a lot of new concepts there. The first point is that it’s not about “you,” it’s about what the willing buyer will pay you. The word “you” in the second point is “your services.” The two apparently “contradictory ideas” are really one: “price is determined by what a willing buyer will pay a willing seller for goods or services.” Sound familiar? It should.

    The third point is also true. I interpret it as: “Don’t focus on the money; focus on what you do.” As Richard J. Barker said, “The secret of success in life is to find out what you like to do, and do it. And then find a way to get somebody to pay you to do it.”
    .-= jorgekafkazar´s last blog ..Tenirax, Ch V =-.

  • admin

    lol, you’re right, I don’t need to pay for my services either… hadn’t thought of it that way.

  • Isaac

    It’s interesting. I like the idea that the pricing is both important and not that important. But I dunno, I wouldn’t pay my price because I wouldn’t need my service, so that’s weird to think about.

    Isaac’s last blog post..Writing Rules by You

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