Freelance: Sticking to Your Rates

When should you stick to your freelance rates? And when should you relax a little bit?

Recently, one of my larger clients decided that it wasn't worth it to keep hiring out the writing for the blog; in the current economic climate, the revenue just wasn't coming in. As a result, I found myself actually look at the job boards for the first time in years.

Happily, this isn't going to be the end of the world. And I do have other work to make up for the loss. In the first few days after the notification, though, I considered a few emails that approached me, looking for a writer. They asked my rate, and then, when I sent back, I was told that the rate was too high for the current budget.

There was no counter-offer. It was almost as if some of them wanted me to lowball myself. Or maybe they just thought I wouldn't accept a lower rate. At any rate, I've set my rates at a level that I'm comfortable with, and that works for me. However, there are cases when I am willing to relax my rates.

But not by a ton.

Agreeing to a Lower Rate

Agreeing to a lower rate isn't about undercutting someone else. I know that there are plenty of freelancers willing to write 500 word articles for between $5 and $10 apiece. I did it myself a long, long time ago, when I first started out. However, I don't accept the type of lowball offer any more: I have some experience as a freelancer now.

When I do agree to a lower rate, some of the things I take into consideration include:

  • How well I know you: Nothing's worse than accepting a lower rate, doing work for someone you don't really know, and then finding out that they won't be paying what they owe you.
  • Revenue sharing/bonus: In some cases, I'll accept a lower rate if there is a traffic bonus, or a revenue sharing agreement. The bonus can make up for the lower base pay.
  • Byline in a good place: Having a byline somewhere specific isn't as big a draw for me anymore, but it still helps. I am prone to charge a little more when I'm expected to write without getting any credit.
  • How much work/regularity of the work: Sometimes, if it's a regular gig that guarantees long-term “employment”, I'll go with a reduced rate for the “job security” involved.

That doesn't mean that I'll always agree to a lower rate. Most of the time, I stick to my guns. I turned down three jobs so far this month because I wasn't willing to go lower in those particular instances. It's tempting to relax some of my rates, but do I really want to return to how I felt at the end of last year and the beginning of this year? I was doing a lot of work, for lower rates than I should have charged, and getting very burned out and unhappy.

My family will still eat without this client, and I've had some even more attractive offers this month. So I'll be ok. Even without dropping my rates for the sake of more work.

0 thoughts on “Freelance: Sticking to Your Rates”

  1. Brent Pittman

    I’d love to learn more about revenue sharing agreements for writing. Maybe you can write about that sometime and how its tracked?

  2. Giving away a 500 page writeup for 5 dollars is robbery, I have not been offered any freelance work yet and if this is what I should expect then the hect with those types of clients.

  3. Hi Miranda,

    Am I glad I came cross your website. This post is truly helpful. I guess I underrated myself. *sigh*

    1. Miranda Marquit

      We all underrate ourselves at some point. Hopefully you’ll be able to charge what you’re worth down the road.

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