Updated August 2023
Most business people I know rely at least somewhat on marketing agencies or freelance brand journalists and writers to meet the growing demand for articles, white papers, blog posts and other content. And one of the biggest pain points is just getting to a deal.
Here's a tip: Somebody has to go first on the money. It might as well be you.
Contracting for creative services: Know your numbers
If you're hiring: Be honest. You generally have some ballpark idea of what you can spend on this project. Why not just put that out there at the beginning of every engagement query and not just in bidding situations where you're required to. I know, you think you can get a better deal -- and you might get a quote that's less than what you have budgeted. But that's a false economy in many cases because you eat up that savings in the back-and-forth over pricing.
If you're pitching: If you haven't already set a base rate or ballpark estimate of your own, stop reading this and start cyphering. We have a per-word rack-rate, along with project rates for frequently requested forms like infographics, video scripts, white papers, and coaching. When someone calls with a price request and they won't give me their budget, I can quickly figure out a ballpark even without a full-on project brief. If my estimate is too rich for the prospect's blood, we find out at the beginning, so I can either lower my rate, decide to negotiate them up, or walk away. Having pricing information ready lets me make better decisions about whether or not to invest time and effort into getting a job.
I know it can be scary to go first on the money, but the risk is always worth the reward regardless of which side of the desk you're on. Give it a try!