Among all the questions I receive, the most common revolve around freelance writing rates. Indeed, that was the driving force behind my desire to write The Science, Art and Voodoo of Freelance Pricing and Getting Paid.
But today, I want to share a quick anecdote about one of the unseen dangers of freelance writing rates that are too low, in the form of someone whose estimate was so cheap that I almost didn’t hire her.
At the request of a client, I needed to subcontract a modest-sized website for a fast turnaround. The client had found a few writers with portfolios, CVs, and experience that seemed to make a good fit, and the best of the lot happened to be working through one of the major freelance job sites. Not my preference, but I’m a good soldier, and I reached out to her. After an initial email back-and-forth, I uploaded the project specs to the interface.
She responded with an estimate that honestly stopped me in my tracks.
It was so jaw-droppingly low, I didn’t think it was possible someone could write that much text for that little money. I contacted her, and verified that she understood all the specs. She did. I did everything but come right out and say, “I suggest you raise your freelance writing rates today, now, starting with this project.”
For whatever reason, she didn’t take the hint. So, we agreed to the rate and she commenced on the project. Now I was concerned that her portfolio was a fraud, and I was going to receive a couple thousand words of gibberish while wasting a week for my client. I was tempted to say thanks but no thanks.
A few days later, I received the copy. It was decent. The raw content was there, and easily edited into shape that was acceptable to the client.
For the record, I charged my client a lot more to edit it than she charged me to write it; to assuage my nagging conscience, I sent her a significant bonus after the fact. And if my client asks me to hire her again in the future, I hope she has read this post, seen herself in it, and raised her rates accordingly.