I kicked myself for a week. Why? I had skipped one of the most essential parts of having a client conversation.
You see, I was excited and got caught up in the moment and never even discussed her budget.
Which was a big mistake.
We were connecting. We were talking about doing interview-style articles for her company and sharing ideas. It’s exactly my favorite type of work.
I was caught up in the moment.
In fact, I was so caught up that when we hung up, I spent an hour putting together an agreement outlining our discussion. It included concepting, strategizing, interviewing, writing, creating social media posts, and likely even posting them on her behalf.
In other words, it was more than writing. It was more like content strategy and execution rolled into one.
So, I priced accordingly.
And that’s where the breakdown occurred.
I discovered I hadn’t understood the full story.
Turns out, she was also talking to another writer who came in far less than my package. If I’d asked her if she was talking to anyone else, I’d have known that she was talking to another writer.
I would have asked different questions, and she probably would have shared that person’s quote with me, which would have reframed the discussion for me.
Because it was far too low to encompass everything the prospect said she wanted. Then, we could have discussed the expectations and established different benchmarks. Maybe I could have opened her eyes to the possibilities of working with me as a strategist and partner more than as strictly a “writer for hire.”
Maybe not. But at least I would have known we weren’t a good fit rather than getting all excited and spending time on a proposal that went nowhere.
How to Bring Up the Money Conversation
Yes, it can feel awkward to discuss rates. Our culture discourages talking about money and yet, it’s essential if you’re going to run a successful freelance writing business.
It’s also empowering when you learn how to do it well. (Despite my recent oversight, I have managed this in the past, and it feels great!)
Sure, you can always open with, “Do you have a budget in mind for this?” But not everyone will tell you, and to be fair, they may not know how to allocate budget.
Which is fine. That’s why it’s your job to show your value by asking good questions. You want to know their expectations for the project.
How to Position Your Value
I know writers who charge $100 for a blog post and others who charge $800. What’s the difference? Sometimes it’s a complex topic, length, and experience. However, for some writers, it’s more about the way they handle the client conversation.
They don’t just dash off rates. That makes your skills a commodity.
Rather, craft compelling language on your website about your process and try to get the prospect on the phone for a discussion.
Then, you can ask questions about their larger goals. After all, they really don’t want blog posts. They want more visitors, more leads, and more sales.
Here’s a sample script you can use.
Thanks so much for talking today. You mentioned you’re looking for a regular blog writer. Can you tell me a bit about how you found me?
Maybe they say they saw you on LinkedIn and are impressed with your background.
Thanks so much! Yes, I’ve been working with [insert client name or description] for a while now. In fact, [if you have a great metric you can insert it here to briefly show experience, expertise, or value, go ahead]. Can you tell me a bit about your blog and why you’re looking for a new writer?
They might want to add a new perspective, their other writer left, a new CMO came in and wants to revamp the entire blog strategy and boost their consistency/frequency. There’s a list of reasons why they might be looking for a writer.
Your next questions should reflect their needs.
You can ask which posts are performing well on the existing blog. How they see the blog attracting new leads. Do they have a list of topics already, or do they need your help coming up with those? You can discuss their SEO strategy and share your experience of writing blog posts that drive new leads for other clients. If you can point to page views, shares, or other metrics, all the better.
Tie their goals to your experience, so you look like the obvious choice. Help them see beyond the “writing” aspect to the strategic and valued partner aspect of working together.
When you’ve done a good job of this, it’s time to talk finances. State that your typical rates for projects like these range from X to Y. Then ask if that fits within their budget.
They might say, “That’s fine,” “I don’t know,” or “That’s more than we were expecting.”
If they don’t know, then they’re not the decision-maker. It’s always better to speak to the decision-maker, to ensure there’s no confusion and save yourself a lot of hassle.
If it’s more than expected, then ask their expectations and compare yourself to their other options — hiring someone full-time or going with a cheaper resource, which could backfire. Remind them that you’re a strategic freelancer who can help them achieve their revenue goals.
This takes practice but when you do it correctly, you show them how you can help them get the results they’re after, why you’re the person to help them, and what they have to lose if they don’t work with you.
What do you think? Are you ready to talk money in your next prospect call?