Should you publish your SEO copywriting rates online?

“How much?” Those two words are chilling enough to cause frostbite. Sure, it’s a perfectly logical and, quite frankly, inevitable question for prospective customers to ask. Nevertheless, it terrifies me.

The problem with “How much?” is that there are too many ways to get the answer wrong.

One answer wins you the job, but leaves you feeling cheated or rushed. Another answer causes the customer to walk away, looking for a cheaper option. And another is so low it convinces the customer you suck at what you do.

Worse, determining what number is wrong for which reason is near-impossible, because the whole thing is subjective.

Excuses for NOT listing SEO copywriting prices online

So, is it any wonder we freelance writers tend to shy away from posting our prices publicly? The first time someone suggested I put my SEO copywriting rates on my website I blanched. What if a potential customer isn’t willing to pay that much? I’ll scare them off. Or, what if they’re willing to pay more? I’ll lose money.

How can I be flexible and negotiate if my prices are out there for all to see? Besides, each project is different so doesn’t it just make sense to create an individual price quote for each.

My opinion was only bolstered as I looked around the web and found very few SEO copywriters publishing their rates online. This is standard industry practice, I told myself. I’m doing the right thing.

But…

The fact of the matter is that after nearly four years in this business I know what I WANT to charge.

I also know there are copywriters who charge significantly more, and scores who charge significantly less. That puts me comfortably in the middle, and I believe I’m worth my asking price. So, why am I still afraid to answer “how much?”

Because I’m afraid of being told “no.”

My epiphany about publishing SEO copywriting rates online

Over the years I’ve performed mental gymnastics trying to come up with the right answer to “how much?” I’ve spent hours putting together fancy proposals hoping they’d convince prospects to pay more. And I’ve suffered the frustration and disappointment of losing bids I thought were a sure thing.

So, I recently asked a negotiations expert how I can know the right answer to “how much?”

She said, “Ask yourself, what is the value of my services in the hands of my market? If your market can’t afford you, change your market!

Huh? You mean I’ve been wasting time and energy trying to fit my prices into my market, when I should’ve been finding a market that fits my price?

Yep.

The benefits of posting your SEO copywriting rates online

So I’m taking the plunge. I’m establishing standard rates and posting them on my website.

Does this mean I’m unwilling to negotiate? No. But it does mean I’m facing my fears and taking charge of my pricing . If someone sees my rates and decides to go elsewhere, then they weren’t the right customer for me anyway.

I figure this is going to help me:

1) Generate higher quality leads from my website.
2) Save time by focusing my sales efforts on the right people.
3) Establish credibility with people who visit my website.
4) Close more sales.

What about you? Do you publish your prices online? What are your reasons for or against doing so? I’d love to hear your answers in the comments section below. (And please join the discussion in my Network of Web Professionals group on Facebook and LinkedIn).

 

About the AuthorAlexa Steele

Alexa Steele is The Website Wordsmith and founder of Mystique Marketing Communication. She and her nationwide team of Internet marketing specialists provide premium services including website design and development, SEO, social media marketing, and website copywriting. In short, “we communicate with the people who make you money.”

photo thanks to Tax Credits

Want to get your freelance copywriting business rolling without working so dam hard? Check into my Copywriting Business Bootcamp and my SEO Copywriting Certification training!

7 replies
  1. Amy C. Teeple
    Amy C. Teeple says:

    Thanks for the post Alexa! This is an issue with which I have struggled for some time. I have several plans for 2013 and I think one will now be adding a range of my rates to the website.

    I think I have been afraid of scaring away people with rates. However, if I think about it, if they don’t want to pay my rates, I really don’t want to waste time trying to win their business.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
  2. MIKE BEESON
    MIKE BEESON says:

    I’ve written a lot about copywriting rates. Here’s a tip to the wise…

    Establish yourself first with a base of offline clients. Remember them? They’re the folks you can see, touch, smile at and talk to. Real people.

    When you have a regular monthly income rolling in, you can treat the online enquiries that come your way as ‘optional extras’ where you can set your price at what you think is good professional value. If the would-be client doesn’t like it – so what? You’ll be surprised just how many times that ring of confidence will win the day. You can find more gems on Buzzwords’ website: http://bit.ly/TjCqIY

    Reply
  3. Micky Stuivenberg
    Micky Stuivenberg says:

    Hi Alexa. Good topic.

    I started publishing my hourly rate on my site soon after establishing my web copywriting business in 2008 and have kept them there every since (although those rates have increased over time).

    My main reason was that my site ranks very well in Australia and I just received too many emails from people wanting some quick and cheap web content, which isn’t what I do. After I published my hourly rates, those emails dropped from around 20-30 a week to half a dozen to a dozen a week, but at least these people are serious about investing in their business.

    I don’t feel I can publish fixed rates for certain types of work, because there are too many variables involved and no project is ever the same. So the question ‘how much’ now often becomes ‘how long’ (would I need to spend on a project) but at least by publishing my hourly rate, potential clients have a certain indication they can consider and that saves everyone time.

    I’m very glad I no longer have to waste my valuable time on preparing dozens of proposals each week that were never going to go anywhere anyway because those people had something like a $200 budget to rewrite an entire website!

    Reply
  4. Alexa Steele
    Alexa Steele says:

    Micky,

    Amen. One of my motivations for putting my rates on my website is to eliminate tire kickers who have “something like a $200 budget to rewrite an entire website!”

    I do state that the rates on my site are meant to offer guidance only and that I will work up an individual proposal for each client. Still, I like offering flat rates as opposed to hourly because customers can have some fanciful ideas about how long it should take me to do copywriting. I once had a prospect ask for an hourly rate because “that should only take about a half hour, right?” Wrong.

    Reply
  5. Jenny
    Jenny says:

    Hi Alexa

    Really interesting post. I know this is old now, so I don’t know if you’ll look at this but I notice that your websites don’t have your rates on them. Is this because publishing your rates didn’t work out well?

    I’m considering publishing a rough guide to my own rates, but I’m interested in other people’s experiences.

    Reply
    • Heather Lloyd-Martin
      Heather Lloyd-Martin says:

      @Jenny, I don’t publish my rates because every client is so different. I do, however, let folks know before we chat that I have a minimum engagement fee. That tends to weed out clients that are working with smaller budgets and I can often refer them to someone else. :)

      Reply

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