If You Don’t Like What I Charge, Get Lost

Photo Credit – Flickr: allaboutgeorgeA wise woman once said:

“My milkshake brings all the boys to the yard. And they’re, like, it’s better than yours. Damn right, it’s better than yours. I could teach you, but I’d have to charge.”

Yes, I’m talking about the 2003 pop hit, “Milkshake,” by Kelis—the song that was once my ringtone on my old NOKIA flip phone.

Still with me?

I often discuss my proofreading services as a business. Though this may seem obvious, there’s something about the Internet that gives people the impression that what you offer is less valuable than, say, if I offered in-person writing and proofreading services.

I recently got an email that exemplifies what online business owners tend to experience.

My inbox displayed a message from a woman who downloaded one of my free ebooks; let’s call her Complainy McPricerson. It’s important to note that emails like Complainy’s are often difficult to decipher from spam—she did not address me by name, and each line was a fragment with incorrect punctuation.

Complainy said that she liked my website, but she found my prices “confusing and disappointing”—specifically, that I charge $0.02 per word plus a turnaround time fee. She continued to inform me that she wanted to send me a document, but it would “cost her too much.”

Here’s my basic pricing structure.

Proofreading services and editorial consulting are $0.02 per word.

For documents 10,000 words or less, you can choose your preferred turnaround time. There is a specific fee for each one.

48 hours: $0.16 per word

72 hours: $0.12 per word

96 hours: $0.10 per word

120 hours: $0.08 per word

Your total fee = ($0.02 + turnaround time fee) x word count.

You get to select your turnaround time so that I can give you exactly what you want.

If you need a document corrected in 48 hours, that’s possible. You pay the appropriate fee, and I make your work my first priority. Simple.

If you don’t need a document corrected for a week or two, your fee will, generally speaking, be less expensive.

Although I outline my prices on my site, half of the work that I do is based on customized price quotes. I understand that many projects do not fit within the boundaries that I describe, so I’m happy to work with clients to meet their specific needs. Multiple spots on my site welcome clients to email me about pricing if my proofreading service menu does not answer their questions.

But when someone emails me and—instead of telling me the details of her project with hope to work out a reasonable price—tells me that my prices are “disappointing” and she can’t afford it, I don’t want to work with that person anyway.

If you don’t have money, you’re not a client—you want something for free.

Would you go into Starbucks and tell the barista that you want to buy a Carmel Macchiato but you can’t afford it?

For some reason, people think that it’s acceptable to talk to online business owners this way.

It also takes a bit of nerve to express that what I charge to make a living is “too much” just because it’s too much for you.

When Danielle LaPorte sent out an email to her list stating that she’s offering an unpaid internship for six months, she got an abundance of negative feedback from people who disapproved of her looking for someone who would work for free.

Here is part of her response:

Assumptions kill courage and creativity.

Assumptions squash opportunities before they fully present themselves. Assumptions hurt your chances, people’s feelings, and your pride. Assumptions will keep you right where you are. If you avoid assumptions, you can make more amazing things happen.”

If you know anything about Danielle, you’d immediately realize the benefits of working with someone with her business experience.

In this case, monetary compensation isn’t everything and the assumption that Danielle wouldn’t care about the person that she’s taking under her wing is ridiculous. I’d jump at the opportunity to proofread her content or snag the fiercest gold hoop earrings for her, if I got the chance to see her in action!

I love working with writers, but you need to tell me what you need and the price range that works for you before I can help you. If you assume that I won’t be flexible with my prices—well, I won’t be.

In regard to the title of this post, the phrase “Get Lost” is the polite way to write my original thought when I read Complainy McPricerson’s email. Hint: the thought starts with an “F” and ends with “Off.”

 Freelance ProofreaderAbout the Author: Stefanie Flaxman corrects business, marketing, and educational documents. She’s a writing consultant and the founder of Revision Fairy® Small Business Proofreading Services.

Follow Stefanie on Twitter.