Why You Should Abandon the Concept of “Price” in Freelance Writing

Jan 20, 2021

Over the weekend I fielded yet another “what do I charge?” question, this time from a mid-career nurse-writer – which goes to show that pricing is a thorny issue even for seasoned freelancers.

My advice to all of you with this question when it arises is this: Abandon the concept of “price,” because it’s an illusion.

But that doesn’t make for a very substantial post, does it? And, anyway, you may be wailing right now, “But of course price exists! How else can I charge for my services??”

Fair enough.

So let’s talk pricing – but not really. Let’s discuss the concept you really need to focus on to maximize your revenue as a freelance nurse-writer: VALUE.

What is ‘Price,’ Anyway?

Just last week I said this in a post:

When it comes to pricing your services, the only thing that really matters is value to the client. “Price” is a charade; there’s only “value.”  Part of your success in freelance writing will be learning how to effectively convey value to the client, so they always say ‘yes’ to your proposals, regardless of the price involved.

What do I mean when I say “price is a charade”? I mean “price” is a subjective construct based on the buyer’s perception of value.

Example: Why do people pay three times as much for a Mercedes Benz sedan as for a Hyundai sedan? One key reason (among many) is because they perceive the value of the Mercedes to be higher than the value of the Hyundai.

Drilling down further, then, what do I mean by “value,” here? Well, value is subjective: it depends on the individual person’s feelings and tastes. People who purchase Mercedes sedans may value any or all of these attributes:

  • Quality of the automobile

  • Feelings of prestige

  • Comfort or luxury of the automobile’s interior

  • Handling

  • Ownership perks

In the case of any good or service, the term ‘value’ does not correlate exactly to ‘price.’ Many people (and marketers) use the term ‘value’ to mean ‘bang for the buck.’ But, you see, “bang” lies in the eyes of the beholder. What you consider bang when it comes to automobiles may not be what I consider bang.

The same is true for each of your clients. To illustrate this concept, I’ll use my own clients as an example.

Client A values blog posts with excellent on-page SEO the most, because their objective is to drive a higher volume of search traffic to their site.

Client B values blog posts with a warm voice and tone the most, because their outreach goes directly into the inbox of prospective clients, and content that resonates with those prospects results in more conversions.

Each client holds a different perception of value for the same asset: blog posts.

Thus, if I pitched Client A a blog post with a warm voice and tone but without exceptional on-page SEO, that asset would hold little value to them and would therefore command a lower price.

If I pitched Client B a blog post with great on-page SEO but written in a clinical, scientific voice and tone, that post would hold little value in the client’s eyes and, again, not command a high price.

But if I pitched each client a blog post with the specific characteristics that align with each client’s perception of value, then I could command top dollar for those posts.

This is why – when people ask me a question like, “What do you charge for a blog post?” – I always shrug and say, “It depends.” It depends because the price isn’t about the type of content asset (blog post, digital newsletter, service line web pages, etc.) but about the value of the asset to the client.

Burn this mantra into your freelance brain forevermore:

There is no such thing as ‘price’ in freelance writing. There is only value.

How to Price Your Writing Based on Value

So, where does this leave us, when it comes to pricing? Because you have to be able to quote a price when asked, right?

To command top dollar for your work, you must become expert at conveying the value of it to each client, tailored to their specific perceptions of value.

How do you do this?

The short answer: through well-written proposals and negotiation.

The longer answer: by listening.

The reason I create a custom proposal for every prospective client is because it enables me to thoroughly convey the value of my services to them. Before writing the proposal, I require prospects to fill out a creative brief and then engage in a half-hour videoconference or phone call so that I can glean more details from them (particularly in terms of how they perceive value).

Then I’m able to take all this information and write a professional proposal that conveys the high value of my services to them, based on how they perceive value.

This ability to convey value is what enables one writer to charge $800 for a 500-word blog post while another writer only manages to get $150 for the same type of asset.

Learn How to Identify and Articulate Value

As a nurse, you likely discuss(ed) ‘value’ with patients all the time. If you sat down with a person newly diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, how did you attempt to persuade them to take their metformin? You likely did not say:

“You should take your metformin every day because that’s what the doctor wants you to do.”

Instead, you likely said something along the lines of:

“If you take the metformin every day, you’ll feel so much better. You may find you’re not getting up several times a night to pee anymore, and your energy level probably will increase.”

In short: you conveyed the value of taking metformin to the patient, in terms of how the patient perceives value.

You can learn to do the same thing with prospective clients – and when you do, you’ll finally be able to command top dollar for your work.

I’ll be writing more about how to convey value in future posts, but in the meantime feel free to email me with specific questions. My goal is to help you transition from nurse to writer or to grow your existing nurse-writer business, so don’t hesitate to reach out!

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