How Much?

It’s a dilemma every freelancer faces; how much to charge?

Too high and you might not get the job. Too low and you’re spoiling the market. Somewhere in between and you’re competing with every other freelancer out there.

Money Sign
Will work for dough, not the bread kind ok?

As for myself, the way people perceive me is slight problem.  Since I write as a pastime and dish out free advertising and marketing advise in the process; people expect me to charge next to nothing – sometimes none at all!

There is a difference between just ‘writing’ and ‘knowing what to write’. After 13 years of being a copywriter – now almost 14 years – it’s safe to say that I have a pretty good idea about consumer motivations, how to compel action/purchase and essentially get the message across.

Don’t get me wrong, I am still learning and there are way better copywriters out there than myself. But I do have my strong points, so I think a little recognition is in order.

Here’s an excerpt from a classic marketing book Selling the Invincible by Harry Beckwith that makes my point so damn eloquently:

A man was suffering a persistent problem with his house. The floor squeaked. No matter what he tried, nothing worked.

Finally, he called a carpenter who friends said was a true craftsman.

The craftsman walked into the room and heard the squeak. He sat down with his toolbox, pulled out a hammer and nail, and pounded the nail into the floor with three blows.

The squeak was gone forever.

The carpenter pulled out an invoice slip, on which he wrote the total for $45. Above the total were two line items:

  • Hammering, $2
  • Knowing where to hammer, $43

So, you know… as I said… the thing is. Ahhh never mind… I rest my case.

Businesses are bad for consumers

In the 12 years of convincing (or misleading) consumers, and being a consumer myself for as long as I remember; I have learnt quite a bit. But none as important as this: businesses are bad for consumers.

Why? Because giving your money to someone who says he or she is “doing business” means you are not getting any value whatsoever.

Imagine this scenario; let’s say you are a chef who owns and runs a restaurant. If someone asks you the inevitable “what do you do?” question, what would be your answer?

a)    I run a business

b)   I am a chef

If you were someone who’s passionate about food and thinks the kitchen is your second home, then your answer would be (b). But if you stumbled into culinary school as a bleary 18-year old and then slogged to become a chef only to realise that your real passion is to become a ventriloquist, then you would answer (a).

See how answering a simple question can shed light into one’s motivations?  A business’ objective is not to serve you, but to maximise profits at the lowest cost possible. A business is only interested in your money, and will only give you goods or services in exchange. And sometimes, the good and/or services delivered may not be up to par nor fulfill your needs.

Bad Businessman
Your friendly neighbourhood business may not be so friendly afterall.

On the other hand, if you were to deal with someone who is really passionate about what he or she does, then you are not only getting value for money but also good quality and proper attention. Simply because money is not the only motivator in this person’s life and he or she is genuinely interested in giving you the best for the amount you pay. No shortcuts, no overpromises, no cutbacks and definitely no off-the-shelf solutions.

So the next time you meet someone who you know might be eyeing your pocket, ask the question. If the answer has anything to do with he or she running a business; then say thanks and steer clear. You might just save yourself some Ringgits and future heartache.