That Time I Accepted Way Less for My Freelance Writing

Occasionally I accept less for my freelance writing services. But there's a method to my madness — and a reason I sometimes agree to write for less.

Not too long ago, a fellow freelance writer asked me for some insight into what she should charge when writing for a client. It's a client I write for, and I was honest: For this client, I'm charging a little less for my freelance writing services.

Unfortunately, that put her in a tough spot because she wanted to ask for a higher rate, but it's difficult when I'm already paid less. This is one of the issues that we run into when freelance writing, especially when you work with someone like me who is flexible in terms of rate, depending on the client and my needs at the time.

I feel a little bad that I am, in some cases, lowering the bar for expected pay.

freelance writing

Reasons I Sometimes Accept Less for Freelance Writing

There are times when I feel it's worth it to accept less for freelance writing. Of course, you need to figure out your own boundaries, and when it makes sense to stick to your guns. But here are the factors that I consider when deciding to charge less:

  • Flexibility: At this point in my freelance writing career and in my life I value flexibility. If someone is willing to let me write as much or as little as I want and pay for it, I'll accept less. That's one of the big draws of the client I mentioned above. I don't have a set schedule, I don't have minimums or maximums. I can just write when I want. And that is more valuable than a higher per-post rate.
  • Interest in the project: I'm almost always willing to accept less if I have a deep interest in the project or believe in the work I'm doing. I love that I get paid for doing something I enjoy. But sometimes the most interesting projects are those with smaller budgets. If I'm interested, I'm willing to accept less to feel even more fulfilled by what I do.
  • I really, really like you: If I really like you, I'm willing to work with you. Part of this goes back to flexibility. A lot of the time, people I know well and like are also the same people who are willing to let me do what I want. I don't mind accepting less for freelance writing if we're good friends and I know that you aren't going to be a pain to work with.
  • The work is easy: One of the hard truths many freelance writers encounter is that low-paying clients are often the most demanding. They want to squeeze every bit they can for every penny. It's frustrating. However, there are times when the work is super easy and the client is laid back. In those relationships, I don't mind accepting less because I don't like to be bothered. If the work is easy, and the client undemanding, I'll take less. You might not get the same quality if you're paying me less, but it will be reasonable quality and reflect the price level. And I'll be happy because it's easy and I'm being paid.

I know that smaller, independent bloggers can't pay the same rates as corporate clients. If I want to work with a few of them, I need to accept less for my freelance writing. I also know that if I want more freedom and flexibility, I might need to give up something in terms of per-post pay.

Right now I'm fairly happy with the balance I've struck between corporate clients and independent clients. I have freedom and a flexible schedule, and I also have the chance to focus on projects of greater interest to me. Sometimes it means I accept less for my freelance writing services, but the tradeoffs make it worth it to me.


3 thoughts on “That Time I Accepted Way Less for My Freelance Writing”

  1. Jason Hull, CFP

    One of the negotiable items is whether or not you can ask for something else instead of the usual pay rate. For example, starting freelancers could accept a lower rate in exchange for the ability to get a testimonial that they can put on the website, or an agreement that the client will e-mail 10 people who could use the freelancer’s services.

    The key is maintaining value in the relationship, which doesn’t have to always be purely monetary. However, if you lower the rate without requesting some non-monetary compensation in return, you’re seeing a psychological anchor in that client’s mind. If it’s a one-time transaction, that’s fine – just in the same way that you don’t really care if the used car salesman likes you; however, if it’s going to be an ongoing relationship, then you need to set that value bar in the other person’s mind. I have rarely seen the “we’ll give you $X for the first engagement, but then it goes up to $Y” agreement succeed long-term.

    1. Miranda Marquit

      I agree, which is why I rarely accept less. But that relationship, and a situation where I can pretty much do what I like, is one of the things that make it worth it for me. The non-monetary value of flexibility and freedom is pretty high for me.

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