Most freelancers cringe at the thought of publishing their rates online. Who am I kidding? Most freelancers don’t even entertain the idea.
It’s okay. I get it. It’s a scary thought.
To tell you the truth, I was one of those freelancers too when I started out.
Publishing your freelance rates online is a statement – a bold one.
It’s a very public declaration of the considerable value you put on yourself as a freelancer.
It tells prospective clients that you aren’t open to negotiations about your rates. That if they decide to work with you, it’s because they want to and not because you have to.
I’ve always been in awe of how much power publishing my rates online gave me in my business.
8 Ways Posting My Rates Online Has Transformed My Business
Saves me copious amount of time and hassle
Before posting my rates online, I was spending more time exchanging emails, writing proposals and creating custom quotes than writing.
It didn’t take me long to realize that I was spending more time convincing a client to hire me than actually writing for them. Worse, more often than not, things would fall apart as soon as I’d send them a quote.
It was so frustrating! All that time and effort and all I’d done was attract the kind of clients who couldn’t pay my rates.
Since the day I published my rates, I haven’t written a single proposal or created a custom quote for a client who couldn’t afford me. If nothing else, it’s saved me hours of unpaid work.
Simplifies the entire process
Every time a client emails asking if I’m interested in working with them, I tell them I’d love to and include a link to my rates.
Then I forget about them. If they’re okay with the rates, they get back to me. If not, I’ve saved myself from a negotiation that would have ultimately failed.
I always know how much money I’m going to make
If you’re anything like me, you hate admin work. Just the thought of tallying all the hours I worked on every client’s project gives me a headache. It’s one of the reasons I always charge per project instead of per hour.
In this instance, publishing my rates doesn’t just benefit me. It also helps my clients. Not only do I know how much money I’ll be making, but the client knows how much they’ll be paying too.
It helps us both make business decisions accordingly.
Attracts the right clients
As I gained experience as a freelance writer, I developed my own client preferences. Mainly, I wanted to work with clients who could pay my rates.
Publishing my rates online helped me do that. Every client who contacts me through my website for content work knows what I charge and can afford me.
And that’s what makes them the right clients for me.
Eliminates needless negotiation
Do you know how good it feels not to have clients try to negotiate a lower rate?
Publishing my rates online changed the tone and direction of my money talk with clients almost immediately.
Instead of them saying “How much do you charge?” and “Could you give us a better rate?”, I now tell them “Here are my rates for individual blog posts. But if you’re looking to have more than one post written, I suggest you choose one of my blogging packages. It’ll be more economical for you.”
Instead of lowering my rates, I end up making more money. Like us, clients love a good bargain, and a package discount is always a good deal for clients in need of content.
Gets me the kind of work I want
Here’s the thing. You can’t publish your rates without mentioning the kind of work you’re charging for.
In my case, it meant I listed my blogging, editing, and ebook writing rates.
Now, the clients who contact me are ones who’re looking for one of these services.
Gets the most difficult conversation out of the way
Talking about money used to make me so uncomfortable! It felt so tacky. Classless. Rude, even.
What’s worse, shrewd clients never bring up money first. It’s like they’re waiting to see how you feel talking about money. If you’re uncomfortable, they can get a lower rate. If not, they’ll stick to their actual budget.
Of course, that could just be my paranoia talking.
Do you see? This is what happens when you’re uncomfortable talking about money. You start seeing conspiracies where there are none. You start judging clients. You resent them for not communicating how you want them to.
Publishing my rates online took care of this problem. I no longer wished the client would bring up money first. No more nail biting wondering if I’ll have to be the one to start the money talk.
Making my rates public helps me bypass the awkward conversation. Instead of clumsily saying “For the kind and amount of work you need done, my rates are…”, I now just say “Your project sounds interesting. Here’s a link to my rates. Let me know if you’d like to move forward”.
As my six-year-old likes to say: Easy peasy lemon squeezy.
Sets the tone for future business dealings
I don’t know what it is about money, but it’s the one thing that sets the tone in business dealings. Clients love working with freelancers who know their mind and don’t shy away from hard conversations.
Once my rates were out there for clients to see, my business dealings with them became shockingly straight forward.
Instead of them asking me if I did the kind of writing they needed and how much it’ll cost them, they only ask me if I’m interested in working with them.
What Happens After You Publish Your Rates Online?
Okay so here’s the kicker. All the benefits I’ve outlined above don’t happen in a day or even a week. That’s something I was completely unprepared for when I took the plunge.
Immediately after I published my rates online, the number of emails I’d get from prospective clients decreased drastically. I’d been averaging 3-5 work queries a week before I posted my rates. As soon as I did, there was complete radio silence.
I’m not going to lie. After two weeks of not receiving any client inquiries, I was ready to throw in my hat and remove my rates. Luckily, before I could, I got contacted by a client who liked my portfolio and my rates. They simply emailed and asked if I was available to work with them. Once I said yes, they paid me 50%, and I started work straight away.
Talk about a “Eureka!” moment.
Ever since then, I may get fewer client queries, but I end up working with almost everyone who does.
7 Fears Keeping You from Publishing Your Rates Online
If you think it worked for me and won’t for you, let me introduce you to the cons of publishing your rates online. Or as I like to call them – your very real fears.
What if my rates are too high or too low?
They probably are. But so what? You won’t find out until you publish them online. Besides, you can always tinker with your rates until you’re satisfied.
Pay attention to the kind of clients your rates are attracting (or not attracting) and adjust them accordingly.
I’ll box myself in a corner and won’t be able to negotiate
Err… no. If you find that a client’s project is more complex than your standard rate sheet allows for, you can always tell them so.
The rates on my writer site are for content written under my name. So when a client says they want it ghost written, I tell them I charge more for ghost written work.
In all my years of freelancing, I haven’t had a client protest. Sure, they’ve said that they can’t afford my ghost writing rates which then becomes a negotiation if I want to accommodate them.
The competition (other freelance writers) will know my rates
Every time you worry about what other freelancers will say, think, or do – ask yourself this: How does it affect my business?
More often than not, the answer will be “it doesn’t”.
Remember, the kind of clients you attract depends on your rates – not on another freelancer finding out your rates and charging less than you.
I’ll miss out on projects that require customized pricing
Not necessarily. Add a call to action at the end of your rates page that says:
“If you’re looking for a service that’s not listed, get in touch for a custom quote.”
This way you cover the projects that don’t fall under the services you list in your rates page.
It’ll scare away clients
That’s the point, isn’t it? You want to scare away clients who aren’t the right fit for you. The ones you want to work with, who can pay your rates will appreciate knowing how much you charge.
I don’t know what to charge!
If you don’t know what to charge, then whether you publish your rates or not doesn’t matter. Stop worrying about your rates being too low or high. Pick a number you’re uncomfortable charging and go from there.
I won’t be able to change my rates if I publish them online.
Says who? It’s your business. Changing your rates is your prerogative. Heck, you can change it every week if you want.
Clients don’t visit your rates page to check if you’ve changed your prices. Once they agree to pay them, that’s the end of the story for them. So whether you raise your rates or even lower them, they couldn’t care less.
It’s okay to be scared.
What’s not okay is not trying something just because you’re scared.
You’ll find ample freelancers who fall on both sides of this debate. Some speak from experience while others speak out of fear. The only ones I take seriously are the people who speak from experience.
Still scared? How about some real life examples of freelancers who’ve published their rates online and grew their business as a result.
Freelancers Who Grew Their Business By Publishing Their Rates Online
Sharon Hurley Hall – Professional Blogger and Writer
Making the switch to publish rates (I call them guide prices to leave flexibility for handling unusual requests) on my site was one of the best business decisions I ever made.
Not only does it help clients know what they should expect to pay for professional writing services, but it serves as a kind of triage, eliminating clients who have unrealistic budget expectations. And it helps me put together estimates more quickly.
I’ve had more great writing gigs since publishing my rates than ever before, so it definitely works for me.
KeriLynn Engle – Copywriter and Content Marketing Strategist
I’ve experimented with post ranges or minimum rates. As soon as I put up some numbers, I stopped getting low-ball inquiries, and the overall quality of leads from my website greatly improved.
I believe that being open about your rates also helps to begin the freelancer/client relationship with more trust and honesty. You don’t necessarily need a detailed rate sheet, but you could mention your minimum/typical engagement rate or minimum project fee.
Some people worry that posting rates prevents you from negotiating or proposing higher rates for projects, but I’ve never had any issues with that. I post my rates as minimums and make it clear that the actual cost may vary depending on the details of the project. No one’s ever said “But your posted rates are lower!!!” after I sent them a proposal.
Joel Klettke – Business Casual Copywriting
I have tested many different ways of displaying rates – hourly, packages, averages and more.
I ultimately settled on showing a minimum engagement rate because the type of client I’m after has at LEAST that much budget, no matter the project. It does cost me some business from people who are tire-kickers or want to work on smaller projects before committing – but I have been fortunate to build a reputation and get most of my work from referrals or people who know me in industry.
My pricing is set up to drive bad leads away, instead of enticing everyone and anyone to contact me. Now, the leads who come in expect that I’ve got a price range that’s not cheap – and they’re okay with this.
Erin Martell – Lane Change Media
Lauren Stevens – Professional Writer, Blogger, and Editor
It gives potential clients a ballpark and weeds out those who don’t have (or want) the budget for me (and my rates are pretty competitive). I also think it establishes credibility.
Christine Caldeira – Freelance Writer
When I started my writer website, I debated whether to post my rates or not, but now I’m glad I did!
Posting rates deters people looking for cheap rates. When people visit my writer website, there is no question about how much they will pay when hiring me for a job.
There’s an editor I found online, and I follow her newsletter. She has a great website, well written, got me hooked but she does not post her prices. And I’m not going to make the effort to contact her for prices since I’m far from hiring someone right now.
That got me thinking, how many people looking for a freelancer stay on the website when they find out they have to jump through some hoops to find out your rates?
Not many visitors will stick around since there are a ton of other freelancers to choose from. So it’s a competitive advantage to post your rates. (Unless you are a highly sought after freelancer).
Good marketing dictates that you need to make visitor conversion simple for the visitor, super simple because they want quick and easy.
My reasoning for posting rates on my writer website is that people looking for a freelancer are more likely to remember me and my services/rates because it’s posted and easy to find. I think most people appreciate transparency.
So… to publish or not to publish?
My personal take? Publish. Always publish.
To quote Marcus Sheridan, “People like to know how much stuff costs.”
If you’re still on the fence, here’s a question that can help you decide: How are your people skills? If you’re better at interacting with people personally then by all means, don’t publish your rates online.
But if you’re like me and the idea of a Skype call where you’ll have to talk about money makes you break out in a sweat then publish your rates online.
I find it so much easier to point clients to my rates page. It allows me to have a conversation I’m not comfortable having.
I’ve also trained myself to forget about clients after I send them a link to my rates. If they’re still interested, they’ll get back to me. If they’re not, they weren’t my target market anyway.
If you’re still hesitant to publish your rates online, then don’t worry, I’ve still got a way for you to avoid the awkward money talk. Keep your freelance rates information private and when the money talk comes up, send them a PDF version of it.
Bottom line: Clients want to know how much you charge.
Put yourself in your client’s shoes. Which freelancer would you rather hire? The one who published her rates online or the one who didn’t?
The question is, which freelancer are you going to be?