One of the most commonly-asked questions I get from new prospects is something along the lines of this: “Woah, lady, why are your rates so HIGH?”
Followed by: “Can’t you, like, give me a discount for reason X, Y, and Z or something?”
This usually happens to me after the prospect has reviewed the comprehensive (free) quote that I spent a good bit of (my) time preparing for him/her. And, while few of my clients or prospects actually channel Jeff Spicoli when posing these questions, a good number of them are surprised by how “expensive” my services are.
Expensive? Really? Or, are they just… fair?
Atlanta-based creative genius Erik Wolf brought up an excellent point on his business radio show last week: How many of you honestly expect to pay rates equal to or below minimum wage when hiring, say, an accountant? Or a lawyer? How about an interior designer?
How many of you would try to bargain with the computer tech guy who killed that nasty virus on your computer and recovered all of your precious files? Or the mechanic who stopped your car from spewing clouds of noxious fumes from its muffler?
Answer: none of you. Unless, of course, you’re a compulsive haggler. And then I’d just feel sorry for you.
But, seriously, I think most of you wouldn’t think twice about paying top dollar for those services. Why? Because you hired those professionals for their experience and expertise. Because you admit that they know things that you don’t. And because you know you could never do what they do.
The point is, professional writing is a professional service. And as such, it commands professional rates.
For some folks, this is a tough pill to swallow. After all, each of us is schooled in “writing” from the moment we learn to hold a pencil. We’re “taught” to write throughout our academic careers. We use “writing” as a form of everyday communication with our family, peers, and colleagues.
But, what if we were to apply that same logic to, say, sports? Much like writing, each of us is “taught” how to play sports from an early age. (Remember little league softball at the community park? Hoop-shooting during gym class? Summer swim camp?) Some of us even continue playing sports recreationally into adulthood. And those of you with children may spend your weekends teaching your little ones all about the rules of the game. Yet, does that mean we’re all as skilled as the men and women who play sports professionally? C’mon now.
Look, just because you’ve dribbled a basketball before, it doesn’t make you Michael Jordan. Similarly, just because you’ve written an essay before—even one that earned you gold stars and smiley faces from your teacher—it doesn’t make you a professional writer.
So, my advice to anyone seeking professional writing services?
• Expect to pay professional rates. Yes, that means anywhere from several hundred to several thousand dollars, folks! Get used to it now. Oh, and if you come across any “writers” who charge anything less, walk away. You’ll be thankful you did.
• Expect to pay a percentage of that professional rate (sometimes even the whole fee) up front. Sorry, but, writers are too often screwed out of the money they rightfully deserve. It’s a precaution we must take. Don’t like it? Don’t hire a professional writer.
• Know that you will get what you pay for. Would you really buy a car for $100 and expect great results and dependability from it? Doubtful. A $50,000 car? Damn right, you’d expect great results! Quality, my friends, comes at a price. That’s just life.
• Please, please, PLEASE don’t try to talk the writer’s price down. First of all, it’s kind of rude and degrading. Who wants to do business with someone who can’t appreciate the value of their work? Second, you need to start considering professional writing services as an investment in your company’s future. Pay for quality now, and the copy will pay for itself a hundred times over down the road.