Posting Your Writer Rates: Pros and Cons

Figuring out whether you should display your rates on your website is a big issue for many freelancers. Do you post up your prices or hourly rates and risk either ridicule or a lack of business? Do you politely refrain from posting rates, preferring a message of “contact us for a customized quote”?

 

It’s a murky area with people who take the extreme on either side and many sitting uncomfortably in the middle.

 

Website usability pros and marketing and sales experts say you should make the user experience as easy as possible to improve conversion from click to cash. People are lazy, folks, especially on the Internet. Sometimes, one click and filling out a form is just too much trouble, especially if the freelancer next door is as transparent as they come.

 

When you post your rates, people know what to expect. There is no guessing and no surprises. Potential clients who see all the information up front are more likely to take action. When people do contact about working on a project, they’ve already decided your rates are an expense they can live with.

 

You also cut down on the time you waste with emails and contacting interested people. Some people just want to know what you charge, but they may not even intend to hire you. Others want to haggle and bargain. If your rates are posted loud and clear, people generally assume wheeling and dealing isn’t part of your game. Plus, you don’t have to create customized quotes for all clients.

 

Perception plays a part, too. People often assume that “customized quote” means “I’m gonna screw you over, buddy.” They think that because you don’t display your rates, the cost must be exorbitantly high. So they just don’t bother with you and go elsewhere.

 

Staying with the idea that perception affects sales, some people judge abilities based on price. Expensive means quality, cheap means crap. Sometimes, expensive means snotty and arrogant and cheap means submissive and pushover.

 

Tough stuff.

 

There are some definite benefits to keeping your rates to yourself, though. Take a look:

 

You can customize the cost of each project based on its required efforts and time as well as your interest in doing the job. Your posted rates don’t trap you in the embarrassing situation of having to convince a client that his particular project will cost three times as much as your going rate.

 

When you don’t post your rates, no one shops by price. They contact you because of quality first: They’re interested in doing business with you because you made a good impression, not because you charged a low price.

 

You also run the risk of letting your competition see what you charge and helping them undercut your pricing to gain your clients – if they know who those clients are. The Internet is a big place, folks.

 

Another reason for not posting rates is that you won’t have to suffer feeling embarrassed that people see what you charge. While many freelancers have no qualms about advertising their prices, many others feel uncomfortable doing so because of what other people might think.

 

The scales definitely tip in favor of posting rates, if sales are what you want. Do your research about the going rates for the services you offer and charge accordingly. Writers.ca posts a good guideline of rates for Canadian freelancers – U.S. rates are similar. Also, take your skill levels, experience and abilities into consideration when you set your rates as well.

 

Most of all, make sure that the rates you post up are ones that you feel comfortable with. Pick a price based on your research that is not too high, not too low, but somewhere that is just right. If you have a hard time justifying them to both yourself and your clients, rethink your rates.

 

 

P.S. Before you all run and check, no, we don’t post our rates. But after writing this, I’ve convinced myself we should. Upcoming!

Post by James Chartrand

James Chartrand is an expert copywriter and the owner of Men with Pens and Damn Fine Words, the game-changing writing course for business owners. She loves the color blue, her kids, Nike sneakers and ice skating.

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  1. The about page of my blog includes a link to a PDF document that describes my services and lists my hourly rate. Although clients still have to contact me for an estimate of the time required for their project, anyone looking for a cheap price won’t waste his time or mine. Most of my work is editing, and I give a free sample edit of a few pages to determine how much time the job will take to give an estimate.

  2. I’d like to say “ditto” to what Lillie said. I post my rates to scare away the $1 an hour people that are looking for someone to write for next to nothing.

    Unfortunately, there are a lot of those $1 an hour people out there. The rates are basically a guideline until I find out the complexity of the work. I’ve had people ask me to write fairly large projects for nothing.

    One guy wanted me to write a software manual in exchange for access to his software. Uhhh … I always have access to the software that I write manuals for and I still expect to be paid. Having access is part of the job.

  3. I too post my rates to ward off those looking to pay pennies. However, I also state that my rates are negotiable, but I reserve the right to refuse any rate I deem unreasonable. It seems to work for me. 🙂

    As for competition, it doesn’t really matter whether one discloses his or her rates or not. “Why,” you ask. Simple, if the writer doesn’t disclose his or her rates, the “competition” could e-mail the writer pretending to be a client and ask the writer for his or her rates. Everyone can sign-up for free e-mail from places like Yahoo, Hotmail and etc.. In addition, they can also ask the writer for references, which would reveal some of his or her clients to the other writer. I suppose that’s how life works, and our job is to ensure that our writing is good enough to stand out over our competition. (I’m sure that’s not the correct wording, but you’ll have to excuse me as I’ve been up all night.) 😉

  4. I believe everything is negotiable. I worked for five years in Purchasing and our mantra was to never accept any price at face value. The same goes for rates and fees, I think. And of course, there are often good reasons to negotiate rates.

    But a big question comes up with this: How many buyers and clients are comfortable asking for a discount? Very few. Most people don’t ask at all. They assume they’ll be turned down or laughed at.

    I think it’s always a good idea to post a note that rates are negotiable, which opens the doors to people who are afraid to ask and also lets the freelancer have more options. It still fields out the buyers that want a huge bargain, because negotiable doesn’t mean free.

    What’s interesting with writers rates is the wide variety I’m noticing around the internet. There’s dirt cheap, moderate, reasonable (what I consider reasonable, anyways), expensive and friggin’ rocket sky-high. I’ve been bouncing around to see what everyone posts as rates (s’good to check out the competition) and the range is more than amazing.

  5. To post or not to post. I’m still not sure.

  6. @ Internet – That’s okay. Neither am I 🙂

  7. It’s a hell of a dilemma, I’ll admit. We still haven’t posted our rates because each time I go to hit “publish”, I think to myself… Well, what if? What about that perception problem?

    And I’ll do you one better – $0.10 USD for 1,000 words on a technological topic.

  8. Graham Strong says:

    I have wrestled with this subject for years. When I first started, I looked at the websites of established writers (weren’t many websites back then…) and found that the majority of them did not post rates. So I chose to go with the “contact me for a quote” direction too.

    Since then I have discovered one big reason not to post rates, and that is client perception. At best, the client will still have no idea how much a project will ultimately cost because they don’t know how long it will take. At worst, they think about how long it will be to write a business letter (website content, brochure content, whatever…) and multiply that by my rate. They don’t realize that I could produce it in half the time or less…

    Some comments here suggest that posting rates will get rid of tire kickers. I used to believe the opposite: if you have to ask, you can’t afford it. However I’ve come to realize that no matter which route you go, you will always get people knocking on your door who want a 3,000 word article for $40.

    ~Graham

  9. Graham Strong says:

    What, you couldn’t even offer that in CAD? Not only do I get less money, but I get dinged exchanging it as well… lol

    ~Graham

  10. Don’t even get me started on picking the currency for rates.

  11. @Graham: I forgot about “if you have to ask the price, you probably can’t afford it”. Good point there.

  12. Nuroirreree says:

    Real wealth can only increase.
    — R. Buckminster Fuller

    —————————————————————————————————-
    http://darwinbuchananej.easyjournal.com

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