9 Questions To Answer Before Asking a Freelance Writer For A Quote

“How much would you charge for writing content for my website?”Question marks

 

It’s a well-meaning but far too general question if you’re interested in getting a quote on content writing services.

 

Just as contractors can’t give you an estimate on your kitchen renovations until they have taken measurements and learned whether you want a hardwood or linoleum floor, content writers can’t quote you a project rate until you’ve given them some detailed information.

 

Before asking a freelance writer for a quote, prepare to answer the following questions:

 

1. How many pages will you need content for?

This matters to writers because it gives them a feel for the volume of content they’ll need to write. Obviously, a website with five pages will take far less time and effort than a 30-page website.

2. Which pages will you need content for?

The specific types of pages make a difference, too. Crafting an “Our Services” page requires more time than writing a catchy blurb for a “Contact Us” page.

3. How will the pages be structured?

A website’s layout and design elements can affect the amount of time a writer will spend on writing your content. Some websites’ home pages have a slider and small content boxes which link to specific pages, some sites are designed as a single page on which visitors scroll to get to different sections, other sites are laid out in other ways. When estimating the work involved, it helps writers to know how content will fit on the various pages of your website.

4. How will you collaborate and exchange information?

Email and easy-to-use online collaboration tools like Trello and Evernote make the process more efficient. Face-to-face meetings require more time, especially with a commute factored in.  And if you prefer to provide information via phone calls and expect the writer to take notes, that’s more time consuming for a writer, too.

5. Will you/your team provide all the key details that need to be included or will outside research be required?

Online research and phone interviews add hours to projects. Most writers will want to factor that into their pricing.

6. How many levels of approval will there be?

If one person is the first and final stop, the revision process will typically be smooth and short. When content needs to be approved by a marketing manager, a top-level executive, and a board of directors, things can get drawn out.  The writer could face multiple revision requests as each tier of approval has its own ideas of what content should say or how it should sound.

7. If you’ll have an “About Our Team” page, how many staff members will be featured there and are there existing bios to draw from?

The number of team members you feature will affect the amount of time a writer will spend on this page. And if those team members don’t have existing bios or LinkedIn profiles with key details, your writer will need to spend time gathering that information from them.

8. If you’ll have “Products” or “Services” pages, how many products or services will need descriptions and how extensive will those descriptions need to be?

The quantity of products and services and volume of content for each can dramatically affect how much work a writer faces. Expect to provide this information upfront. If you’re not yet sure about the quantity of products and services, you might instead ask the writer to quote this page on a per product or service basis. I.e., the writer might quote you $125 per product description, and your cost for that page will then depend on how many products you finally decide to include. For example: 4 products = $500.

9. When is your deadline?

If a writer won’t be able to accommodate your timeline, what’s the point of getting a quote from her? Sharing your content deadline upfront can save both you and the writer from wasting time. And if you’re expecting the writer to meet a rush deadline, expect to pay more—especially if your writer is in demand and will need to either adjust her project schedule or work above and beyond her normal project load.

 

The writers you connect with may ask some of these questions or all of these questions, and they might have other questions as well when considering what to charge for writing your website content. Regardless, you’ll get a more accurate quote and avoid added expense later if you’re prepared to provide as much information as possible about your project from the get-go.

Your turn! If you’ve worked with a freelance writer on your website content, what questions did they ask when pricing your project? If you’re a writer, did I miss anything? What would you add to the list?

 

 

Image provided by Dawn Mentzer/purchased via Canva

 

Four Cs To Stop Pushback On Your Pricing

Competing on price alone is a losing proposition for small business owners who provide professional services.Hand-No

  • It sets you up for burnout because you need to take on ridiculous amounts of work to make a living wage.
  • It sends the message that you’re of “bargain basement” caliber. (Nice reputation to have, eh?)
  • It attracts cheapskate clients who will try to take as much as they can from you for as little money as possible.

Who needs that? Not me. Not you.

And not your clients.

Speaking as a client of other professional services providers, I—and I think the majority of B2B clients—don’t mind paying a higher price to a vendor who delivers these things:

Competence

Naturally, it makes sense to want the job done well. Does it matter how cheap you can get a professional service if the person or company providing it doesn’t seem to have the expertise or skills to provide quality results?

Collaboration

Working well with others, sharing ideas, and coordinating efforts—collaboration makes a tremendous difference in the end product and client satisfaction. Excellent collaborative abilities help keep projects with multiple moving parts on time and on target.

Communication

Good communication skills set expectations and avoid misunderstandings. Sadly, not everyone has them. People who are good communicators…

  • Ask the right questions to fully understand clients’ needs.
  • Define the scope of work and the responsibilities of themselves and clients before starting projects.
  • Keep clients informed of their progress.
  • Ask for feedback.
  • Respond promptly

Conscientiousness

If your vendor is disorganized, doesn’t pay attention to detail, or is a procrastinator who veers off course or can’t stick to deadlines, does a cheap rate make that OK? Conscientious professional services providers care about doing the best job possible and meeting expectations. They’re meticulous about delivering quality and consistency.

Avoid The Low Price Pitfall

A low price doesn’t do clients any favors if they’re not getting quality work but are getting major headaches from working with a “professional” who is cutting corners by not devoting the time and energy needed to the business relationship.

As a small business owner who provides professional services, take your business—and your clients—seriously. The rates you charge should reflect the value of you as a total package. And your total package will be worth a higher rate if it includes the four Cs I mentioned above. Deliver on them, and you’ll find less pushback on price and more appreciation of you as a business professional.

How do the four Cs differentiate you from your competitors?

 Image courtesy of winnond at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

 

 

 

Small Business Reality Check: It’s Not Your Responsibility to Save the World.

I’m reading Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged”…for the third time. Well, I should say I’m trying to read it again. I’ve tried twice beforeSmall business superhero and each time lost interest and gave up somewhere between half-way to three-quarters of the way through. This time is a little different though. I’m working as a solopreneur now and have gained a different perspective on and appreciation for business and free enterprise.

The primary conflict throughout Atlas Shrugged is between the right of business owners to profit from their hard work and the social responsibility to benefit the greater good. Characters Dagny Taggart and Hank Rearden are chastised for applying their smarts and business acumen to the purpose of making a profit. Others find it abhorrent that they aren’t working solely with those less fortunate in mind.

As business owners,  I believe we do have a responsibility to give back. And I know many professionals who donate to charity, host fundraisers, and give of their time and talent through volunteerism. I also believe we have to look out for our own financial well-being and set boundaries around how much we give away.

Sometimes as solopreneurs and professional services providers, we get approached by prospective clients who want to do business with us, but who don’t have a budget to bear our fair rates. I’ve had that happen on occasion and it’s a tough spot to be in. Do you lower your rates to the price point they can afford? Do you tell them your rates are non-negotiable? Do you meet them somewhere in between? Many of the folks looking for a lower rate aren’t simply trying to get your services on the cheap; they’re genuinely cash-strapped as they try to move their businesses forward. You might feel almost obligated to help them. But don’t lose sight of the fact you’ve got your own business to look out for, too.

Some things to keep in mind when a prospect can’t afford your rates…

Could you give them a lower rate by asking them to do something to lessen your time and effort?

For example, I can give a lower rate for ghostwriting blogs if the client agrees to provide topics and bullet points with key details they want included in their posts. By eliminating my time to brainstorm topics and do research, I can give them a more favorable rate. Is there something your clients can do on their own that will allow you to shave some dollars from your quotes?

How far is what they’re able to pay from your quoted amount?

If what your prospect can pay is within the realm of reasonableness, you might consider giving them a break. Seriously think about what you need to charge to stay whole financially and to make sure you won’t feel resentful as you’re working for less than you normally would.

By offering a lower rate, are you being unfair to your other clients?

Will you be chipping away at the foundation of trust you’ve built with your existing clients if you charge significantly less to a new prospect? While all client situations, project specifics, levels of collaboration, and other factors vary, you need to have some consistency in how you price your services. Giving blatant preferential treatment to one client wouldn’t be fair to your others. Of course, maybe your clients would never find out. But why risk it?

Will you be turning away higher paying work by taking on their project?

Definitely think about this! If taking on a lower-paying project will make you turn away more lucrative work, you might want to respectfully decline the opportunity with the prospect in need. It helps to have a list of other professionals in your field who you can refer them to. That gives them options and won’t make them feel completely abandoned.

Reminder: You’re in the business of running your business – not saving the world

As a business owner who knows the struggles of getting started and staying within budget, you’ll surely feel some empathy for prospects who can’t afford your services. It gnaws at me when I have to turn away work for someone who is struggling, and I expect you experience that regret, too. But as a solopreneur with limited time and a desire to run a profitable business, I can’t afford to save the world. Can you?

By Dawn Mentzer
Another Insatiable Solopreneur™ Post

Image courtesy of vectorolie / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

How Low Should You Go? Factors to Consider When Prospects Want You to Reduce your Freelance Rates

If you’ve set your freelance rates fairly, most often you won’t find yourself in the position of negotiating with clients. ID-100143914There’s a value beyond just “the work” that accompanies the rates you charge. Repeat clients recognize it. Your track record of quality work, collaborative nature, reliability and dependability support that what you’re charging is worth it.

But there are times when you’ll find yourself approached by a prospective client who asks you to reduce your fees either by a little – or a lot. I don’t know too many solopreneurs who relish negotiating, but that activity comes with the territory. It can be disheartening, disappointing and downright offensive depending on just how much a prospect asks you to cut your fees, so there’s not only a financial component in the equation, there’s also an emotional one.

After you get over the initial hit to your ego, how do you decide to either gracefully decline the assignment, negotiate to find a middle ground, or accept the proposed compensation?

Consider these things…

Will taking a lower fee cross your “Resentment Line?”
You know what you’re worth – or you at the very least you know what your existing clients are paying for your services. Don’t agree to a rate that will leave you feeling taken advantage of or cheated. Maybe you could justify a 20% reduction to get your foot in the door with a new client, but 30%, 40%, 50%…? You need to draw the line somewhere. Don’t take a project that will make you feel diminished as a professional and resentful of your client.

Are you being fair to your loyal repeat clients?
All clients and the projects they bring you will be different from one another and warrant some fluctuations in rates, but some standardization to your fees structure helps keep things equitable. Would it be fair to your dedicated repeat clients if you offer a much-reduced rate to a new prospect? As a professional, it’s important to build trust – you can’t do that if your pricing screams favoritism.

How badly do you need the business?
If you’ve got more available time than you have dedicated to paying work, it makes sense that you might consider reducing your fees for a prospect. If you really need the cash and the rate offered isn’t highway robbery, perhaps you’ll want to concede. But first consider if your time working on the lower paying project might not be better spent looking for work that will pay you what you’re worth.

Are they willing to narrow the scope of work in exchange for a lower rate?
Clients who honestly have budgetary constraints but who really value what you bring to the table might be willing to contract you to do part of the original project scope. Some projects lend themselves nicely to these situations. In freelance writing for example, if clients are willing to do some of the research, or are willing to write initial drafts, or will otherwise take on parts of the project on their own, I can offer more flexibility with the project rate to better accommodate their budget.

Ultimately, your comfort level – both financially and psychologically – should guide you when deciding whether or not to reduce your freelance rates to get the business. And don’t underestimate the good sense of intuition. If you have the feeling a prospect is all about getting the lowest price rather than the level of professional quality you offer, run don’t walk from the “opportunity.” Go with your gut!

What about you? How do you handle situations where prospects ask you to accept less than what you’ve proposed? Any rules of thumb you can share?

 

Image courtesy of adamr / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The Value of Value: Don’t underestimate the worth of your professional services

As entrepreneurs, one of the keys to survival and success is to provide value to our Valueclients. But the word “value” is often tossed around without much thought; it’s easy to lose sight of exactly what it means.

Value defined: the importance or preciousness of something; an amount, of goods, services or money, considered a fair equivalent for something else; the regard that something is held to deserve; a fair price or return.

 

What value means to your clients

That’s tricky, because value is in the eye of the beholder. Some customers mistake the lowest-priced service as the best value. We all know that doesn’t usually stand true, but getting the buyer to see that can be difficult. Unless you’re selling a commodity service, one that has lots of competition and can be provided equally as well by nearly everyone in your field, cheap doesn’t correlate with value.

With professional services, quality can vary from provider to provider and generally clients will need to pay a little bit more for expertise, a higher level of responsiveness to their needs, and superior results. Some clients understand and embrace that. Others just don’t get it.

What value means to you

If you care about what you do and your clients, providing value doesn’t pose a challenge; convincing the occasional skeptical client does.

2 very short stories for some perspective:

  • Last week, a new prospect contacted me by email about editing a business book manuscript. I quoted him my standard editing rates, and he told me that my rates were very much out of line with another quote. As most freelancers, I’m always willing to negotiate to accommodate tight budgets, but when he shared the price point the other editor bid, I nearly fell out of my chair! I would have sooner done it pro bono (don’t tell him that!) to preserve my dignity and self-respect, than take on a project with compensation so far outside the realm of reasonableness.
  • I recently worked with another client who was initially hesitant (always understandable when someone works with a freelancer for the first time), but after he saw the finished product, he expressed great gratitude and was one of the fastest-paying clients I’ve ever worked with.

The second story had a happy ending. The first never went past the preface despite my efforts to communicate the value (quality, time and attention, responsiveness…) that I deliver.

And that will sometimes happen when you’re aware of – and stand up for – the value you provide. You’ll win some, and you’ll lose some. But really, you’ll never “lose” if you price your services to be fair to both your client and to yourself based on the value you bring to the table.

Have you ever been faced with defending the value of your services? Ever walk away from a prospect who was clearly buying on price rather than quality?


Dialing 8 Project

Consider joining the Dialing 8 Project! A forum for learning, sharing & getting the most out of your social media efforts for your small business.

Pricing Your Freelance Services: Considerations before you start quoting

by Dawn Mentzer – Solopreneur and Marketing & PR Freelance Writer, Editor, Proofreader

I would love to connect with you! Join me on  Facebook  | Twitter | LinkedIn | Google+

___________________________________

When starting out as a freelancer, quoting your services to clients can cause you to question yourself.Blank price tag

“Will they think it’s too much?”

“Am I charging enough?”

Finding balance between the opposite ends of the spectrum isn’t easy – and it’s something that requires thought, research and usually a degree from the “school of hard knocks” via pricing mistakes that you make along the way.

To price your freelance services effectively, there are several things to consider:

  • How much time will you spend on non-billable work? A good bit of your time will be spent doing business-related tasks that you won’t be invoicing a client for. Your time on your business Facebook Page, tweeting, prospecting on LinkedIn, writing proposals, preparing invoices…all are necessary for building and managing your business. And all of them take away from the amount of time you have to spend on billable projects.
  • How many billable client hours do you expect to invoice? When you start out as a solopreneur, it’s not likely that all your available hours will be filled with client projects. Before you set your prices, realistically estimate how many billable hours you’ll be invoicing.
  • What are your business expenses? Even solopreneurs offering professional services are faced with direct costs for starting and running their businesses. Software, office supplies, fuel, the coffee tab from a client meeting, taxes…your pricing needs to take those expenses and more into account.
  • How much income do I need to make? In your specific situation, how much net income will you need to make each week, month and annually? Your pricing needs to allow you to generate enough revenue to support your professional and personal living needs.
  • What’s acceptable for your industry and geographic location? If you live in Schoeneck, PA, your local clients won’t have the same rate tolerance as those in New York City. Likewise, if you’re providing a commodity service vs. one that’s specialized, you won’t be at liberty to charge a premium. And of course, you’ll need to take a look at what your competition is charging for very similar services. In a nutshell, you’ll need to consider the price points that your market will bear.
For more information about pricing freelance services of any kind, I highly recommend the book “The Wealthy Freelancer: 12 Secrets to a Great Income and Enviable Lifestyle” by Steve Slaunwhite, Ed Gandia, and Pete Savage. It’s a no nonsense practical guide to doing business as a freelancer. I’m in the process of making changes to my own approach to pricing based on their recommendations.

_______________________________

There are also resources out there that provide tools and templates online – and offline – that can help you with pricing your services. Here are few:

Freelance Service Rate Calculator – Although this was developed with writers in mind, it works just as well for other types of freelance professionals. It’s a nice tool for determining your billable rate per hour based on the revenue you’d like to make. It also factors in the amount of billable hours you expect to work and the vacation time you intend to take. Even if you quote by project vs. hourly rate (as “The Wealthy Freelancer” advises), the rate per hour that the tool computes can be used to calculate what you should be charging per project to meet your income goals.

SCORE – The non-profit organization maintains a library of business financial templates that can help you figure out how to price your services. Plus, SCORE chapters nationally provide free face-to-face and online mentoring, so you can run your numbers past a trusted and experienced advisor.

Accountants and Business Consultants can provide you with templates to do Break Even Analyses and other forecasting exercises that can help guide you to the right price points for your services.

Your local library might also have some business resources available to help entrepreneurs with setting prices. The local library near me, the Duke Street Business Center in Lancaster, PA, gives entrepreneurs free access to special business intelligence databases that contain valuable information about competitors as well as industry pricing and practices. If you’re fortunate to have a library that offers services specific to businesses, schedule an appointment with the business reference librarian there to really dig into the available data.

Pricing freelance services can be especially challenging for solopreneurs who have always worked in an environment with a steady paycheck. It’s tempting to base your billing rate on the hourly rate you were paid by your employer because you think it will sound more reasonable to clients. Remember, it’s not “apples to apples”. As a freelancer, you’re running a business – one with costs in non-billable time and operating expenses that you’ll need to factor into the equation.

More Relevant Reading:

Have You Made this $45,000 Mistake? via the International Freelancers Academy blog

Four Realities of Value-based Pricing by Michael W. McLaughlin

7 Pricing Considerations for Professional Services via EyesonSales.com


Dialing 8 Project

Consider joining the Dialing 8 Project! A forum for learning, sharing & making the most out of your social media efforts for your small business.

 

Image: jscreationzs / FreeDigitalPhotos.net