Here’s a little business experiment I did a few months ago in an effort to “get to” respond to those cheap writer ads you see all over the Internet.
(Hint: It didn’t work out).
Writing & Pricing Basics
If you’re price shopping for a writer, there are a handful of levels of content you can pick from.
$50 and under per post
You may get an English-speaking citizen, but you will not get anyone with a breadth of knowledge about the topic.
Beginning writers with a handful of clips looking for any job.
Efficient writer who has some relationships and some one-off jobs.
A professional writer who has recurring clients and picks and chooses them carefully.
Because of my education, experience, and desire to not go crazy, I am a mid-to-high-range priced writer. That falls into the $125+ post range. I give discounts to marketing firms that work with me in bulk, but new business I take on trends closer to 30-50 cents per word and up.
There are a few things that funnel into my price, such as my attention to writing for the digital age, formatting, and general maturity of the post. There’s a lot more journalism than there is “creative expression of English”.
That said, there’s another factor at play that can be super frustrating when you first get started: the bell curve of people hiring skews very hard towards the cheap, under $50 per post crowd.
That translates into tons and tons of jobs hiring…. for very little money and tons of effort.
The good side of this coin is that the jobs for the other segments exist — they’re just harder to find and earn.
My Failed “Quality Experiment”
I thought I could take my current writing and “remove” my skills and maturity to lower the price. That is, provide less mature posts that could make it into that $50 and under post category, as low as $25 and $15, but still be profitable for me, time- and energy-wise.
But it just didn’t work.
Once you achieve a level of expertise, it’s so hard to try to “back down” from that knowledge and those instincts. Of my few efforts, a handful went through fine, but a nagging few kept getting caught in red tape of “not being good enough.” Of having errors that were perceived as being too low quality, when in fact I just met the price point. So even if I knew how to make it better, the pieces just weren’t worth the price to put in the time to make them better.
But the real failure was my experiment. You can’t remove quality from your skills without being deceitful or going crazy. Witholding things you know — when someone is paying you to be the expert — is unnatural and uncomfortable. It is far more worthwhile to find the clients who know how good they want it to be and are willing to budget what they need accordingly.
Don’t play the “quality” game with your freelance work — just do your best and charge for it!