Should You Give a Writing Discount Now If the Client Promises More Work Later?

Fingers crossed behind back, representing a possibly false client promise of "more work" for rate reductionGreetings! Welcome to the fourth installment of Heather’s “how to start an SEO copywriting business” video series.

(For those of you new to the series, you may want to check out her three preceding video posts: Niche copywriting for love & (more) money, Make your freelance copywriting pay – every time!, and How to handle writing revisions – without going insane!)

Today, Heather addresses a somewhat tricky situation that you will likely face many times throughout your freelance copywriting career, and that is: Should you provide a discount on your rates now, if the client promises “more work” later?

Tune in to learn how to handle this touchy scenario…

What the prospect says…

This situation can be really touchy, because you might have been talking to this person for awhile, you’re really excited about the gig, you work hard on your proposal, you turn it in, and you hear: “Yeah! We want to work with you, but…”

And those “buts” typically turn into statements like:

– We want to “try you out first” before giving you a lot of work.

– We need you to “work with us” this one time.

– We know we can push a lot of volume your way.

So here you’ve gotten all excited about the possibilities, and now you’re thinking “Aw geez, now what kind of discount am I supposed to give to get that future work?”


Suddenly, your brain starts working overtime

You focus on that “future work” statement and think:

“Wow, I could use a bunch of new work! This is exciting!”

And then the business side of your brain kicks in and you think:

 “What if I don’t discount my rates? Will I be walking away from a super profitable freelance copywriting client?”

And then there’s always that little bit of:

 “I wonder if this person is lying to me?” 

(…and they’re just trying to get a discount this one time, and then I’m never going to hear from them again…?)

And sadly, that third scenario seems to be the one that happens more often than not.

So, here’s what I suggest you do in that situation…

Stay calm and carry on (with your normal copywriting rates.)

– Don’t get paid peanuts – hold to your rates.

– Unless the client is willing to commit to the additional work in writing – and you can offer them a volume discount – don’t do it.

Keep your copywriting rates as is – don’t get paid peanuts, and don’t discount your rates for a first-time client that you have absolutely NO history with whatsoever, and especially with no real guarantee of work!

Now what you can do to turn it around is suggest the client sign a monthly retainer agreement.

You can simply say: “Hey, if you expect that there’s going to be a lot of work later, then why don’t we sign a monthly retainer agreement, where I agree to create five pages or ten pages for you a month. Then I can provide a bulk discount, because I know that you’re going to be on a retainer and I know that you’re going to be pushing a lot of work my way.”

Now, if the client agrees to that, bonus! That might be something that you can work with. But if the client doesn’t feel right about signing a retainer contract with you, you might want to really consider if that “extra work later” is real – or just something that might happen.

For more discussion on this client payment conundrum, check out Heather’s latest post: “Discount your copywriting rates? No way! Try this instead.”

photo thanks to discoodoni (Carmelia Fernando)

5 replies
  1. focuscopywriter says:

    I like the idea of a retainer agreement, but it sounds scary to approach it with a prospect. I’d love to hear how this has worked for others. It makes perfect sense to me, but prospects don’t always think like we do!

  2. Kevin Carlton says:

    Ah! The good old “Do this work at a cheaper price and there’ll be more work in the pipeline” routine.

    A classic sign of a potential nightmare client if ever I saw one.

    Love your idea, Heather, of wrong-footing these prospects by suggesting a monthly retainer.

    If they agree, I guess they might not turn out to be such a bad client after all.

  3. tc says:

    I just ‘fired’ a potential customer because he used all of this in the conversation:
    -‘need simple work done’
    -‘a lot of work your way in the future’
    -‘small budget for now, but if you work good you will get more projects’
    -‘i need this ASAP’

    All the signs of a real nightmare customer.


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  1. […] by how to: define a niche market, ask for a writing deposit, deal with writing revisions, stand firm by your rates, protect yourself with a contract (no matter the size of the gig), and hone in on the services to […]

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