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Skill Equal Less Pay?
by Brian S. Konradt of BSK Communications and Associates
A client wants you to provide copy for an ad. You're fee: $300 for the
entire ad, which is a full-page ad. But then the client tells you:
"It's a small ad. A very small ad. Only a half a page." So you
cut your fee in half to $150, right?
You still charge $300. A client may argue that, since the ad is smaller,
it'll require less of your time and less of your skill — ergo, your
fee should be less.
The client is wrong — and he probably knows this, too, but there are
some clients who will break their backs to get a bargain. If you've ever
written a full-page ad and a half-page ad, you've discovered that it
takes just as much time, effort and skill.
Whenever a client tells you that you should lower your fees because the
project requires less skill, don't believe him. It's false.
Does a project involving "less skill" mean you have to shed
some of your skills so you only charge the client for the skills
required? The answer is no. There is no such thing as a project that
involves "less skill." You'll approach every project and every
assignment with the same skills you have every time, regardless.
Now knowing that you should not charge less on projects that require
less skill, try to answer this question: A client wants you to rewrite a
freelancer's work that's full of mistakes. You're regular fee: $65 an
hour. But the client tells you: "The copy is already provided. All
you have to do is look it over and fix the corrections. We'll pay you
$35 an hour." Do you accept the assignment or do you negotiate with
the client to charge you $65 an hour?
If you said to negotiate with the client for $65 an hour, you're right.
It'll take you just as much skill and time to read over the copy and fix
the corrections as it would to write the copy from scratch.
Tip: There's no such thing as "rewriting" in commercial
freelance writing; it's frequently called "rebuilding." If the
client refuses to pay you your standard rate, turn him away.
The One Exception
You should think about setting a "ceiling" and a
"floor" to your fees. If you generally charge $65 an hour for
your time, your ceiling might be $85 an hour and your floor might be $45
an hour. In between is what you generally negotiate to.
But what if a medium size business is willing to pay you only $35 for
your time and no higher? Do you accept the assignment? You should if you
can commit the business to outsource a series of assignments to you,
generally three or more assignments in the near future. This is good
business practice — and it can be good business for you.
Having a series of assignments from one client can help pay the bills
and certainly help keep your promotional and overhead costs down. In
this situation, ask the client to pay you in advance for the series of
assignments or to have him sign some sort of contractual agreement. Do
not settle for a verbal agreement or a handshake agreement. Having a
written contractual agreement avoids miscommunication and, when proof is
necessary as to what was agreed upon, the contractual agreement is the
Konradt is the owner and operator of
a web site dedicated to help writers master the business and creative
sides of freelance writing. Mr. Konradt is also the principal of BSK
Communications & Associates, a communications/publishing business in
New Jersey, which he established in 1992.
New to freelance writing?
this informative article.
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