Every now and then, you’ll come across a client who wants to pay less than your writing rate. In some cases, this is just a little bit less and could be negotiable. In other cases, the potential or even current client wants to half your rate.
I’ll be honest and say that this is a huge red flag for me. A good 99% of the time, I’m going to walk away. There are very limited times that I’ll do anything else, especially if it’s a potential client.
Someone who wants to half my writing rate from the start is usually going to be a difficult client. They only have their costs in mind and not the quality of content or what the content will do for them.
However, there are times I’ll take other steps. Here are five things I’ll do when a potential or current client wants to half my writing rate.
1. Walk away
Of course, the first is to walk away. This is something I did recently. I just knew that negotiating wasn’t going to lead to anything good.
In the case recently, the client wanted to drop from the quoted $50 to $20. It was more than half and there were other things that gave me a bad feeling about the client. If I’d quoted $50 and the client wanted $40, then I may have been open to negotiation depending on the scope of the project.
I recently had a writer ask me about her rates. She quoted $250 for a project (bigger scope than the one I’d quoted) and the potential client came back saying he’d never paid more than $50. Well, it might be why the quality was poor, but I advised the writer to stick with her rate and walk away.
When you’re walking away, I always recommend being polite. You don’t want to burn bridges. You just never know when that could come back to hurt you.
I sometimes explain that the rate is set and will ensure quality. That’s what the client wants, right? If they don’t budge, then I wish them well and say that they’re welcome to email me again if things don’t work out with other writers and they have the budget for my services.
Yes, I have had clients come back apologizing and asking to hire me at my initial rate.
#2. Negotiate to your lowest offer
My quoted rate is usually higher than my minimum writing rate. This is usually because people like to barter for services. I’ve never quite understood why, but it shows that quality writing isn’t considered a skill their recognize (until they realize they need it!).
So, I will quote high. I’ll add at least $20 on top now, but it will depend on the project and the potential writing client.
I then get some wiggle room. If clients would like to negotiate down, it’s still at a rate that I want to do it at.
The only time I don’t negotiate down is if the client has already proven to be a PITA client. If the client isn’t willing to pay it, I’m not all that bothered about losing out.
#3. Take the writing rate offered
This is not something I highly recommend. However, it’s going to depend on the project.
There have been times I’ve taken a lower rate because I like the look of the project on offer. If I’m raising my rates, I may allow the client to stay at a lower rate because I’ve enjoyed working with them.
This is usually on a short-term project. I’ll also want a testimonial afterward or the right to use the pieces as samples. It’s important to have something that will help me get new business afterward. The lower rate can sometimes be good for exposure.
This is only something you can determine.
#4. Offer short-term with increases later
One of the red flags when a potential client gets in touch is that the low writing rate will be for “just a short while” and there will be “increases later.” Most of the time, the increases don’t come.
Please don’t fall into this trap!
However, you can make it clear that you will only work at the low rate for a “short term.” You choose when the rate goes up and if the client isn’t willing to pay, you decide to walk away.
I usually do it for a one-month contract. After that, I reassess. If the project has turned out much easier and more enjoyable than expected, I might stick with it for another couple of months and then raise my rates. If it’s turned into a headache, I give my new rate and walk if the rate can’t be met.
If clients hesitate to pay the increased rate at all during the process, I walk away. I’ve learned to trust my cut.
#5. Recommend someone else
There are going to be writers out there who have a lower rate than you. It’s just the way of business. I know a lot of writer friends who have a lower rate than me because of a lower cost of living or they’re just starting out.
If a client who wants to pay half my writer rate is genuine, I’ll consider if a writing friend is able to take on the work and then recommend them. If there are other red flags, I won’t put that onto a friend!
This can be a great way to network and keep your friends happy. It can also work the other way if a friend doesn’t have time for a new client but thinks I might be interested.
What are you going to do when a client wants to half your writer rate? Only you can decide.
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