Over in our forum someone told of a client who asked “Will you reduce your rate for steady work?” The question, of course, does this sort of request make sense for the writer?
Generally speaking I don’t think it makes sense to reduce your rate for the promise of steady work.
Writing is not like making widgets
The bulk discount is based on the idea that the maker takes less time and effort per item when they are making dozens or hundreds etc. of the item as opposed to making one. Everything a writer writes is original and ideally not like anything else she or anyone else has written.
The only possible exception I can think of is when the subject matter is highly complex and there’s a steep learning curve. It might make sense for the writer to discount their rate a bit after they’ve learned the ropes. After all, they will probably need to spend less time on the writing when they’ve gained needed knowledge. The argument can be made that a small discount might be in order.
Even steady work comes to an end
The promise of steady work, usually in the form of weekly or monthly writing, is tempting. An income that is anything but predictable is probably the biggest downside of freelance writing.
Like all gigs, however, this one will also come to an end. It may end in weeks or months or even years, but it will end. The chances are it will end with little notice. In other words, it’s like a regular job which also can end suddenly.
It is possible sometimes to get the client to sign a contract or letter of intention that they will hire you for X amount of time. But they are unlikely to sign something that will act as a real guarantee to you.
In the long run the promise of steady work is a promise that’s unlikely to be fulfilled even when the client has the best of intentions.
If you do decide to reduce your rate
If you do decide to reduce your rate, reduce it only a little. No more, in my opinion than five percent, and half of that would be better.
Before you make the decision review how you set your rate. If it’s fair, it’s fair with or without steady work from a client. It’s so easy to give away the store as it were because you want to be nice or you’re afraid you’ll loose the client if you don’t meet their request.
While there’s nothing wrong with them asking for a discount it’s also true there is absolutely nothing wrong with you saying no.
What you might say to your client
It can be difficult to re-negotiate a deal downward, which is what the client is asking when they ask you to reduce your rate. That is, if you let it, it can feel like your not on an equal footing. Think about that – they need a writer, you’re the writer they picked.
Don’t be afraid to say something like “since every piece of writing I do is unique I don’t offer discounts.” Or you could ask a question like “what’s happened to change your mind about our pricing?”
If, as I’m suggesting, you do push back, once you make your statement or ask your question, don’t speak again until they do. Let them respond. They may say that the current rate is fine and drop it all together. Or they may tell you why they think they are entitled to or need a discount. If they push hard you have to decide if you’re willing to lose a client or counter with a two percent discount. It’s also okay if they push you to say you need time to think it through and will give them a call later in the week.
There’s no requirement to reduce your rate for steady work.
Write well and often,