Negotiating Freelance Rates for 2009

freelance-writing-advice-3An interesting article at includes this quote:

“Many individuals who lack writing skills drive down rates, way below what professional writers can rightfully charge. If the true professionals do not keep up their prices, this will become an even bigger problem. Just because writers from other countries want to work for eight or nine American dollars per hour, this doesn’t mean you should.”

That by Brian Scott, who in the same article advises writers to list their rates on a website and collect a retainer up front. I disagree with both of these suggestions for two reasons. I never list my rates on my website–it prevents me from being flexible with small clients who work on limited budgets. Let’s say you find a non-profit you believe in and want to cut them a break–listing your rates up front could scare them away before they even get in touch. In theory, you’re also committed to those rates regardless of how labor-intensive the project winds up being.

On the retainer front, I find that for the work I do, a retainer is unrealistic. Some freelancers may decide the retainer is a good move, but if you take that money up front, you’d better deliver a kick-ass product and on deadline, too.  I find an exponential increase in expectations and degree of control the client assumes they have over your work when money goes out up front. But maybe money up front works for some.  It’s really up to you.

The bottom line here is not to undervalue yourself. I totally agree with Brian Scott that talented writers who accept peanuts for their work not only cheat themselves, but endanger the rest of us by leading clients to expect good results for bad pay.