Freelance writing online has come a long way in terms of respect and pay than when I first started over six years ago.
No longer do established companies expect you to write for pennies or churn out several low-quality pieces a day.
However, there will still be clients and companies that will want you to work for them at a rate lower than you quote them. Don’t take it personal. Some companies have smaller content marketing budgets. Other clients simply do not understand how valuable content marketing is.
It is disheartening to finally get an email back from a potential client only to find out that their budget isn’t a good fit.
Here are three action steps to take when your freelance writing rate is countered with a lower offer.
Weigh the Situation
Are you still trying to build up your portfolio?
Will this exposure be good for the long run? When I first started, I took any job that would pay. The problem was that I wasn’t getting credit for my work or gaining more clients (due to ghostwriting for content mills).
Then, through an old personal finance blog I had, I was contacted by the editor of a big finance blog. He was interested in swapping articles. I don’t think I benefited him in any way because my site was so small, but I was so thankful for the experience.
I used the three guest pieces I wrote for that company’s blog (which has since been redone) to gain other writing positions with personal finance sites.
I was only charging a small freelance writing rate of $75–125 an article at the time. While I wouldn’t do it now, it helped me build up my portfolio and lead to bigger gigs as a beginner.
If you do take a position of lower pay to build up your portfolio, don’t get stuck there. Do a couple of pieces and use the clips to get higher paying gigs.
Politely Negotiate a Middle Spot
If they are firm on their budget, then there still might be an opportunity to work with them.
Let them know that you can work with their budget either through a monthly retainer or by offering them a lower package.
For example, if you want $300 per article and they had the budget mindset of $200, evaluate the workload. Is it something you can easily do in two hours or less?
If not, then tell them that for the price you will give them X amount of work. This might mean you give them a lower word count or that they provide most of the research and outline they want you to pull from. Or you can say, “I will do $200 per article if you do a five-article retainer and pay upfront.” This way you are earning less per article, but you are guaranteed $1,000 worth of work.
Decline with an Open Door
Many times, a company’s freelance writing rate will not fit your income goals even after stating your baseline.
Don’t reply as if you are offended. Instead, thank them for considering you and tell them you would love to write for them in the future when they grow. If the company looked promising, keep tabs on them. Keep a list of potential clients to follow up with and email them again in six months to a year.
While there is no guarantee that a low-paying company will change their marketing budget within the next year, it is best not to burn any bridges.
Over to you — how do you get a prospect to value your writing and accept your freelance writing rate?