It occurred to me recently that there is one easy step freelance writers can take to earn more. I’ve used it a lot in the past year. It’s one I think many writers overlook, so thought I’d mention it today.
Ready? Here it is:
Ask for more money.
That’s right — even in this terrible economy, even though there seem to be a million other writers growing on trees…you can still ask clients for more money. Often, you’ll get it.
I got approached to write for a major business site not long ago by a content house that was providing the site with articles. I was quoted $250 an article. “Really?” I said. “I’m surprised at that rate, considering where these articles would be going. I do similar articles for clients of similar stature for $300 and up. I think $300 is pretty much the bottom rate I’d consider for this type of work.”
And presto: I got $300 an article.
Another 20-blog package I wrote started with a $200 apiece opening bid. When I said, “Gee, but it’s rush work…” they quickly raised the rate to $300 a post.
You can ask longstanding clients for a raise, too. I was writing for $85 an hour for a major private company, and at year-end I asked for $95 an hour, saying I felt I’d gained a lot of expertise in their business that made me more valuable. They grumbled slightly…and then gave it to me. That one probably translated into $8,000 or so of extra income over the next two years, for no additional work.
In talking with my mentees, I’ve found it’s common for writers to simply leap at the first rate offered for a job, and then feel locked into that rate forever. Know that an assignment offer may be intended as the opening of a negotiation, not a take-it-or-leave-it situation. New writers often get so excited when they get a work offer, they don’t think about whether the pay being offered is adequate for the assignment or calculate how many hours it will really take.
Before you leap, ask yourself whether you could make a case for a better pay rate. Does it require specialized expertise? A drop-everything rush not every writer might take on at this late date? Is it for a publication or Web site with a reputation for quality they need to burnish? If you can think of a reason why more pay is warranted, you’re crazy not to at least mention it to the prospect.
What’s that you say? You’re shy? Intimidated? Practice asking for more money in front of a mirror, or with a friend. Join Toastmasters. Whatever it takes to increase your confidence to where you could ask for more money.
There’s a basic rule in writing as in much of life — them that asks, gets. Asking for more money also has other benefits besides potentially getting you a raise.
1) You come off as more professional. Professionals negotiate, as opposed to just jumping at the first thing they’re offered. They’re not that desperate.
2) You feel empowered. You won’t do the assignment while always wondering if you could have gotten more for the work.
3) The worst they can do is say “no.” I can’t think of a gig I lost by asking for more money. Sometimes I’ve heard, “Sorry, that’s the limit on our budget,” and then had to decide whether I wanted to accept their opening price. But if you’re polite, calm and professional about it (never angry, snarky or rude), you usually have nothing to lose by raising the issue.
4) You hone your negotiating skills. Your negotiating ability is key to helping you move up the earning ladder. So consider each offer a chance to practice negotiating.
Have you asked for more money and gotten it on a writing assignment recently? Leave a comment and tell us how you did it.
Photo via Flickr user borman818