One of the biggest problems many new copywriters have is they’re afraid to discuss a client proposal and negotiate. Instead, the writer gets a prospect and is so excited, they jump at the first offer that’s made. Often, this means they end up with a lower rate than they might have secured if they’d explored the client’s needs and budget a bit.
This process should have some give-and-take to it as you hammer out what you’re going to do and how much you’ll be paid. It’s also an opportunity to display your knowledge of what will best help the client meet their goals for growing their business. A recent conversation I had with a prospective small-business client went like this:
Prospect: I looked at your site and I love your writing! I have a new Web site I’m launching that will have an audience of private-equity investors and small companies looking for funding. I was thinking about having you blog for me once a month for a couple months. I also need a press release written.
Me: I could certainly do that for you, but I have to tell you I don’t think it’s going to be effective in drawing enough traffic to help your business get rolling. You need more frequent posts – at least one blog a month. I have a minimum contract for startups that’s four blogs a month for $500 that I think would start getting you meaningful traffic.
Prospect: That’s a little high for my budget…
Me: What if I throw in the press release? I’d do that if you signed on to a minimum three-month contract.
Prospect: That sounds good.
So what happened here? I took what was likely just $200 or so of blogging work and maybe a $250 press release and turned it into a $1,500 minimum contract. Because what I proposed is more likely to succeed in building this client’s business by drawing more prospects, I also upped the likelihood this will turn into a long-term gig.
Throwing in the press release made the client feel he was getting a freebie, and sealed the deal. In reality, his blogs were easy to put together, and he was willing to let me write them ahead of time all at once, which was very time-efficient for me. Even with the press release, my hourly rate for the project stayed in the neighborhood of my target $75-$100 an hour, so it wasn’t much of a sacrifice on my part.
As with all truly successful negotiations, it was win-win.
Of course, if you make a suggestion and the client doesn’t like it and wants to stick to their original idea, you can always agree to it and take the work that’s offered. But remember, it never hurts to negotiate a little and see if the client might commission a bigger, better project.
Photo via Flickr user Joe Howell