As a freelance writer for the personal finance, small business, career, and health/wellness space, I come across a variety of clients, large and small. Some realize the value of hiring a professional, and understand that with experience, comes a certain rate. Others figure that investing in a writer who commands a certain rate per word just isn’t worth the cost.
To some degree, I understand the hesitancy; there is no shortage of content farms and novice writers willing to produce articles for next to nothing. Interestingly, the size of the client has no correlation to their attitude on what a writer is worth. (Don’t believe me? Award winning journalist Nate Thayer recently wrote about his experience with The Atlantic. I’ve had a similar experience with another major site, which I won’t name out of fear of legal action, but it made me quite “Huffy…”)
I’m not saying anything that professional freelancers and consultants don’t already know, but it highlights the importance of working to establish a stellar reputation as a freelancer. When you produce quality work, the clients who value it have no issue with your cost.
Those who don’t value your services, won’t; they never will. Instead of beating your head against the wall or diminishing your own value just to earn a project, take the timeless advice of Kenny Rodgers: “Know when to “fold ’em, know when to walk away–and know when to run.” For the day will certainly come when the business learns a valuable lesson in being penny smart, and pound foolish. I learned that lesson firsthand, just yesterday.
It started when I came across a Tweet that really struck me in its truth: “If you think it is expensive to hire a professional, wait till you hire an amateur.” Couldn’t say it any better than that.
Later that day, I read a Facebook post by credit expert John Ulzheimer, pointing out blatant misinformation published on a personal finance site who I’ll spare exposing here. Interesting, I have spoken to the powers that be at the site about potentially doing some freelance writing work for them years ago, but they didn’t feel I was worth my rate. (Which, in truth, really wasn’t that high). They were recruiting writers through various “remote work” sites (which I’ll also leave nameless), and certainly, there were cheaper options than I. Presumably, they found the talent they sought at the rate they desired. But, to their detriment, the talent who fell in the parameters of their budget proved to be anything but experts in their field. A costly choice, to say the least. Here’s how the karma unfolded….
Though the site probably saved a few hundred bucks in the long run, they’ve destroyed their reputation in the personal finance community, by reporting information that is flat out wrong (and could easily have been verified by simply doing a bit of light research). With that one act of “pound foolishness” and sloppy reporting, the site has earned a rep as one full of fallacy, and frankly, ignorant advice.
As the saying goes, you get what you pay for, and it’s an interesting case study in an age old motto. Before you make your next hiring decision, consider: Can you afford to reestablish your brand position once a poor hiring decision leaves it tarnished?