Friday, November 16, 2007

What'$ it all about?

Freelancers, be advised: It's not about the money.

There, I said it.

Many freelance writers whom I respect will disagree with me.

They'll cite bidding wars where the lowest bidder gets the job (do you really want that assignment?); they'll tell me that when they raise their rates, they hear nary a word (then the clients were going to pains in the ass to work with); they'll tell me that they only get jobs when they work for a mere pittance (then it's time to raise your standards or seek out a mentor who can help you become a better writer.)

I still stand by what I've experienced over and over in every form of sales: It's not about the money.

It's long been known that humans buy emotionally 99.9% of the time. That's why all those damn candy bars, packets of gum, and magazines are at the register at the grocery. Their mere presence makes you WANT to buy them. You had no interest in them before you saw them. Then, suddenly, you NEEDED them.


They're powerful stuff.

And as a freelance writer, you can appeal to your clients and prospects on an emotional level, too. But you have to first remove the money bugaboo.

See, your client wants you to THINK that he or she is all about facts and figures because it's a handy excuse to create a barrier between the two of you based on dollars, Euros, or pounds. When you remove that barrier, he or she will be forced to deal with you on a deeper level.

For example, when sending out query letters, I never include per word or hourly rates unless an ad expressly states that they must be included. And even then, I tend to use ranges rather than saying, "I will definitely need xx cents per word." See, I don't know the client yet... I don't know the extent of the assignment... and I don't want to pigeonhole myself... so how in the world could I possibly give an exact rate?

Some clients don't have a problem with this -- for those that do... well... they weren't serious, in my opinion.

When meeting a client or potential client in person or speaking with him or her via telephone, I simply say in response to inquiries about my rate, "Well, we can talk about remuneration later. What I'd really like to know about is your vision for this project." Once we've devoted several minutes to building an understanding between us, I can give him or her a much better indication of a price tag. And by this point, the client sees me as more than a money symbol; he/she sees me as an expert in whom he/she has invested time and energy. A bond has been formed.

Always, always, always, my personal goal is to remove the money wall and appeal to the needs, wants, emotions of my clients.

Sure, we discuss money... eventually. But I'd like to know first of all what he or she really wants of me as a freelancer. Sometimes, they want a monkey. (While I enjoy bananas, I don't enjoy being paraded around while wearing a diaper.) Other times, they want a writer who can also be a top-notch editor. (This can be a sticky situation.)

Most times, they aren't sure what they want.

But I'll never find out anything if I allow myself to be defined by a dollar $ign.

If you think I'm full of shit, I don't mind hearing it. Maybe I am. But my approach to freelancing based on selling principles has worked thus far. Perhaps I've just been fortunate... I invite you to decide.


Lori said...

Great post, girl! I agree. It's not about the money - it's about the relationship the client can't do without.

Jennifer said...

I totally agree. I hate when people ask for a rate. Actually, when people are vague about the scope of a project and still want me to quote a rate I rarely apply. Like you, I've found that these people don't know what they want and usually the project is crack head worthy so not worth my time. REAL jobs from people who know what they're doing know that writers need all the info before a price can be settled on.

The Quoibler said...

Lori: I knew you'd like this one. ;) I've read enough of your posts to assume we'd be on the same page when it comes to payment issues!

Jennifer: I think people use money as a way to "weed out" potential writers, which, in my not-so-humble opinion, is foolish. You know the old saying... you get what you pay for.