We’re continuing our discussion about freelance writing rates today in honor of National Global Entrepreneurship Week. Today’s today: what we as writers can learn about rates from plumbers.
Lessons from Plumbers: How to Set Freelance Writing Rates
Recently our garbage disposal went on the fritz, so we picked one up from the local home store. To install it though, we hired a plumber. As he came and did his job, I couldn’t help but to notice that there were a few things freelance writers could learn from plumbers when it comes to rates and running a business.
An Emergency on Your Part Doesn’t Mean an Emergency on Our Part
Just because your faucet is leaking all over the floor doesn’t mean it’s the plumber’s problem! They might come running right away, but they will charge you appropriately. If you need a plumber during off hours or a rush job, you’ll pay more.
Compare this to what freelance writers do. I know that in the past I’ve done a rush job for someone and didn’t charge extra. I thought at the time that I was getting a new client, but in many cases that client used me for one rush (and usually, difficult) job and then never called me again. I should have at least asked to be compensated for: a quick turnaround, doing work on weekends, or coming in to fix something another writer did.
Peace of Mind in a Job Done Right
One reason we decided to hire a plumber to install our disposal is that we have an older house and weren’t sure we could install it properly. We called a plumber because we knew that if he did it wrong, he would come back out and fix it. We got a guarantee and peace of mind from him.
Compare this to freelance writers. So often businesses think “anyone can write” and assign various writing tasks to project managers, assistants, and marketing people. But are these people the best for the job? Will someone have to go back in and update the work they did? Freelancers need to do a better job about guaranteeing their work. Give them peace of mind that when they hire us, we’ll come back and fix things if it isn’t done right and they won’t need to worry.
No Apologies for Rates
Our plumber was here a total of 12 minutes (yes, I did time him), and he charged $95. The time included a trip charge and his time. Despite that this was an easy job for him, he maintained made sure his time was compensated and didn’t apologize out the cost.
Compare this to freelance writers, who are sometimes afraid to give a quote for fear that it will be too high. Have you even given your rate and felt the need to apologize or explain? Why should you have to do that? Your rate is your rate. No apologies.
Let’s talk about that trip charge. Plumbers tack on a cost just for the plumber to get in his truck and come out to take a look at your plumbing issue. If he doesn’t do anything else, he still gets paid to come out and visit you.
Compare that to freelancers, who often spent time meeting with clients outside the office. You might drive a long way, or spend a great deal of time away from your writing talking about a project, but will you ask to be compensated for this?
One reason I started doing so much online writing is that I didn’t like client meetings. Some clients couldn’t get used to a writer working from home and as a result needed to “see” my progress. Rather than assure them that my time was better spend working on their project than driving in to “show” them what I was working on, I continued to drive in to their office, spend money on gas, and waste time in meetings that I didn’t need to be in. If I had charged a trip fee to them, this might have been different. At the very least, more of my time would have been compensated.