Set your rates for what you’re worth. That’s a phrase running around the Internet these days – and it’s one that I don’t necessarily agree with.
What to charge for writing is a challenging topic of discussion. Writers have plenty of difficulty deciding how much to charge for their work. There are thousands of writers that work for $5 an hour or even less. There are writers that cost hundreds of dollars. Lacking standardization, rates for writers run from one extreme to the other and anywhere in between.
When we quote on jobs and submit proposals, we hear comments about our rates all the time. “Wow – you’re cheaper than I expected!” or “That’s way more than I wanted to pay.” We also often hear people say, “You should charge more for the quality of work you offer.”
Rates are a game of Russian roulette. You could charge what you feel you’re worth and end up with no work at all. You could charge a lower rate and feel like you’re shooting yourself in the foot. Charge what you’re worth, they say – but what is a writer worth?
That’s a loaded question.
What’s the Market Like?
One of the problems with charging what you feel you’re worth is that you may pick a rate that doesn’t reflect what everyone else is charging. Your rate might be $100 per hour, but if everyone else is charging $50 for the same work, your rate isn’t reflecting actual market value and you won’t get much work. It’s a question of charge more and work less or charge less and work more – which is best?
What’s the Economy of Location?
In a virtual world, there are no barriers. And yet, mention your rates to different clients in different countries, and you’ll have different reactions. The economy of Canada is different from that of the U.S and that of Australia and that of India and that of Great Britain. A dollar is just a concept with no equal value across the virtual world – despite the fact that we’d like to believe everyone is on an equal playing field.
What’s Your Self-Worth?
Another problem is your ego. You may inflate your rate, believing you’re some king of content because you have high self-esteem (or because you’re a lofty, arrogant writer). You might have low self-esteem and misjudge your worth. It’s extremely difficult to have an objective view when the matter is personal and you have to judge yourself.
What’s your Skill Level?
One issue that goes hand-in-hand with attaching a price tag to your self-worth is accurately pricing yourself based on your skills. Many people believe they’re better at a task than they really are. Many others believe they’re not very good at something even if people constantly praise the work or generate serious results from their words.
What’s Your Financial Need?
Deciding how much money you need to come in factors into the equation. You may know that you’re worth more than you charge, but you need a steady, guaranteed income.
Some writers price themselves lower than their worth to ensure they continue to get jobs so they can support their families. Other writers have less need to depend on that income and can afford to be choosy. They’re often the ones that push the “charge what you’re worth” concept, too.
What’s Everyone Else Thinking?
The worst part of setting rates based on what you’re worth is that you’re basically telling everyone else how you value yourself. Clients, network contact and other writers judge people based on rates all the time. That’s a terrible way to judge a person’s worth. “Only $30 an hour? Wow – she must not value herself much.” There’s the other extreme, too. “$250 for that? Who does he think he is?!”
So what’s your take on it? How do you feel when someone tells you to charge what you’re worth? Are you wondering about your rates? Do you examine them all the time? Do you feel that your service’s dollar value is equal to your value as a person?