I’m on the tail end of the biggest recruitment drive I have ever carried out.
I received over 100 applications from freelance writers after this announcement just over two weeks ago. From those applications I trialled 13 writers, and out of those writers, I have (so far) selected seven writers to work with.
It’s been a lot of work, and quite frankly, a large proportion of the work was struggling with applications that weren’t as well written and presented as I would like.
However, what if my struggle could be your opportunity? What if I could point out areas in which I felt the applications I received could have been improved? That’s exactly what I’ve done in this post.
Below you will find eight different critiques, all focusing on responses to just one section of my application form: rates. If this article proves to be popular then I may write up additional posts that focus on the other areas of the application form.
Note: All excerpts from people’s pitches below are anonymous for obvious reasons.
The Application Form
Let’s start by giving you some context. This is the form that applicants had to fill in:
I’m not sure why the screenshot saved in French, but I like it, so what the hell 😉
I’m willing to admit that it may not be the greatest application form in the world, but to be quite honest, clients will rarely present you with the ‘perfect’ circumstances within which to make your pitch. So, I’m not going to pull any punches below!
One more thing: at the risk of stating the obvious, the advice below is made on the assumption that you are actively seeking out work and aren’t necessarily in a position of strength. You could no doubt break many of the rules below and get away with it if your services are in high demand and you can demonstrate great value, but I’m not talking to those kinds of freelancers in this post.
With that said, let’s crack on!
1. Be Realistic
I have never earned anywhere near a $0.35 per word for a blog post, let alone a dollar. So one of two things are happening here: I’m way underselling myself, or many of the applicants were way overselling themselves.
(I should mention that while it certainly is possible to earn say $0.35 per word for a blog post, such assignments are generally on highly technical and/or corporate topics. That aint my bag.)
If I had to guess, I would say that many of the people who quoted outrageously high rates came from an ‘offline’ writing background (where rates tend to be much higher, along with a much higher workload and fastidious editorial oversight), or were completely new to freelance blogging and had no idea what to quote.
My advice to both is the same: know your prospect and be realistic. Do some research and get an idea of what you think could be in the right ballpark. You might not get it spot on, but you’ll be a lot closer than $2 per word!
2. Give the Client What They Want
If a client asks you what your rate per word is, tell them what your rate per word is. Don’t give them a rate per article, and definitely don’t tell the client that you’ll “adopt [their] rates”.
Doing so may seem like a generous move, but it doesn’t do the client any favors. After all, how do they know that the rate they have in mind will be suitable for you? If they’re staring down the barrel of 100 pitches, are they going to take the time to clear up the uncertainty on rates with just one, or move onto the other 99?
3. Be Clear
What’s 20? Or 0.04? Or 0.02?
I have no idea, and that’s the problem.
My application form asked people to submit their rate per word, but it did not say in which currency. If I had come across the same question I probably would have quoted my rate in dollars, because that is the most popular currency. If I was being thorough I also may have put something like, “Also able to quote in pounds sterling” in brackets besides my quoted dollar rate.
But what I wouldn’t have done is left it completely unclear as to which currency I was quoting.
5. Be Explicit
Okay, so this particular applicant didn’t get it right on the currency front, but what I did like was the clarity they offered in terms of negotiations. It’s quite simple: they won’t go any lower than .04 per word (in let’s assume dollars).
I like that kind of explicitness, and I also like how they phrased it. Writing “$0.05 (non-negotiable)” might come across a little aggressive on an application form, but “minimum $0.04” is a neutral yet explicit statement.
6. Keep It Simple
There’s such a thing as too much flexibility. Beyond the lack of clarity on the rate per word, there are probably too many factors at play here to interest most clients.
If you do want to quote different rates for ghostwriting and byline work, do so in a concise manner – something like this:
$0.08 (ghostwriting), $0.06 (w/ byline)
In this case it’s entirely besides the point, as the application is for a ghostwriting job. Therefore, a ghostwriting rate is entirely irrelevant.
7. Don’t Give a Broad Range
Blogging can be varied work, so I get it if you build a range into your rates, but your high end shouldn’t be 500% higher than your low end.
Furthermore, bear in mind that 99% of clients will expect you pay you your low end, so quoting a range at all may not be worth your effort.
8. Give a Rate – Any Rate!
I know it’s tough to quote a rate blind. I’ve been there and I feel your pain. But give the client something. Even “Let’s adopt to your rates” is better than “I don’t know”.
For the purposes of an application, pretend you do know. Quoting any rate is better than quoting nothing at all.
If you’re not sure what you should be quoting, this article may help.
That’s all for rates.
I hope this article was of some help! Let me know if it was in the comments section below and it’ll encourage me to write more pieces along the same lines.
And of course, if you have any other comments or questions, fire away below!
Image Credit: Jericho