7 Questions to Ask Before You Quote a Price
Some gigs you take have a set price — sponsored posts, banner ads, consulting fees, etc. If you’ve determined it’s work you’ll do, and you’ve figured out how much you want to make, it’s a take it or leave it kind of thing.
This is my price. Pay it or don’t.
But other work will need a price quote or estimate.
Unless they’re very clear in what they ask you in an initial contact (usually email), you should almost never offer a price immediately. You can’t quote your best price until you’ve got more information.
What kind of information? Here are some questions I ask.
What Kind of Project Is This?
Most people will outline exactly what they (think) they want in that first email. But they might not. I’ve received many emails that said, “How much do you charge for your writing?” Since no two jobs or clients are alike, that’s a question I can’t answer without more information.
- Do you want a weekly blog post?
- Are you looking for content for your website (sales pages or anything not a blog post)?
- What kind of work do you need done?
How Much Content Do You Need?
Some people say they need to hire someone to “write some blog posts.” Well, okay, how many blog posts? This question breaks down in a few ways.
- How many pieces of content do you need per week/month?
- Is this an ongoing project or a one-time gig? (Am I writing one blog post a week until you tell me to stop or am I writing 10 pieces of content this one time)?
- How often do you want new content? This is sometimes another version of the first question but they might want four pieces at the first of the month or only one new piece a week.
How Long Do You Want Your Content To Be?
I’d imagine the question for someone who creates graphics or other forms of content might be slightly different — how in-depth, full color or black and white. But the premise is the same. How much work do you want for your money?
I charge more for longer content. Yes, even content I might consider “easier” to write. More words on the page means more words I have to edit and make sure don’t sound ridiculous before I send it to a client. For my writer friends out there, I break this down into categories:
- Less than 500 words
- 500 to 750 words
- 750 to 1000 words
- 1000+ words
- 1500+ words
- 2000+ words
You can do this anyway you’d like. And I may not even mention all of these options. It just depends on what kind of writing they want done.
Will You Supply the Topics or Will I?
In copywriting circles, this is sometimes called ideation. Basically, who’s coming up with topics for the work? I have two clients who send me the topics, including what points they want in each piece. They don’t pay as much as the client who wants me to come up with the ideas and do the writing.
Why? Because ideas take as much or more time as the actual writing. That’s part of the work of creating content, so therefore a client pays for that, too.
Am I Uploading the Content or Are You?
Some clients ask me to send over a Word or Google doc once I’ve written their content. Others ask me to upload the content, format it, add an image, and schedule it to be published for them. I’m happy to do it. While this, obviously, isn’t the most difficult part of all, it does take time. And time is money.
What’s Your Deadline for This?
Let’s be clear about something. Once you’re a smutlancer, living the freelance life and working for yourself, you set your schedule. Some clients will always say, “As soon as possible.” But it’s something I still like to know, especially if it’s for a one-off project. Why?
Because if they’re in a rush, I charge a higher price to get it to them on their deadline. To be fair, I also include a quote for them to get it on my deadline. You’ll find that most people don’t need it as quickly as they thought they did, once they see the difference in price.
I only make an offer like this if I can make their deadline (with some juggling). If there’s no way I can do it, I don’t even offer. Missing a deadline is one of the least professional things we can do, and I’m not going to put myself in a position like that.
What’s Your Goal?
This isn’t a question I ask every time, but if the request I get is vague or they don’t seem quite sure what they want, I ask it so I can offer advice. That’s right, before they’ve even hired me, I’ll give them some help. It’s nothing that takes me longer than a quick email, of course, but if all they know is that they want “content” and don’t quite know what, I’ll make a few suggestions based on their goal.
This is also a good question to make sure their content goals align with the kind of work you want to do. Are they looking to convince people they really need a useless or unhealthy product? I might not be the best fit for them. Do they want to make their audience more sex positive and teach them how to be better sexual humans? I’m down for that.
A Few Things to Remember…
You might not ask all of these questions in your first response. Based on how they reply to you, you may have different questions or more to add. Keep the conversation going if necessary. Don’t give a quote until you have the information you need to know two things…
- What would be a fair price for your work
- Is this work you want to do in the first place
Also, when you ask questions and gather information, you look more professional. You’re thoughtful and not jumping at every opportunity that comes your way. These things matter. The company that will pay your best price will see you as a professional and treat you as such. But only if you act like one.
You may put in all this effort and give a price that works for you and feels right for the work, and they might say no. That’s okay. This wasn’t a wasted effort. Consider it practice for the future. And remember, if one company reaches out, it means others will, too.