As writers, regardless of experience level, we check out job boards, seeking suitable projects or clients that will pay us for our expertise in crafting exquisite blog posts that clearly demonstrate the attractive nature of the product or service involved.
It makes sense to do so, right? In an ideal world, certainly. Unfortunately, prospective clients often wax lyrical about the company, its perks and what wonderful people we’d be working with but, and it’s a big BUT, fail to include any details about the rates offered. Sometimes, this detail is ignored completed and they ask us ‘intelligent’ questions such as:
- “Why would you like to work at our company?”–big clue, like most of us, we like to earn money and buy things with it.
- “What is your hourly rate?”–for producing what exactly? – YOU provide a sample.
- “How much do you charge per article/post?”–How long is a piece of string? What’s the word count? The research level? The audience? Credited or uncredited? The list goes on.
As a group, writers are smart and quick to sniff out the bullshit from the few truffles on these job boards. We always ask “Why is the budget or rate not disclosed?” and will not waste our time on board postings that lack this rather significant detail.
Think about it. If you want to move to another company, what is the primary consideration? It’s salary, isn’t it? Obviously, job satisfaction is important too, but this is never achieved by taking a pay cut.
Why Prospective Clients Hide Their Rates When Hiring Writers
If we’re logical about it, the primary reason that rates are not disclosed is that they are crap. Other reasons include but are not limited to:
- Rates are not disclosed so that the client can select the cheapest from the rates received–in other words, the client is a bargain hunter and without knowing it, each applicant is part of a bidding war that may or may not tie in with relevant experience. My advice to such clients is to go to cheaplancer, peanuthire or any other bidding site if this is your approach.
- Confidentiality- the client is protecting rates from competitors–Unfortunately, this argument does not hold water as an approximate range could be provided (from $0.25-$0.40 per word, for example). It would then be up to the applicant to justify the higher rate, based on portfolio, expertise etc. Even this approach is not necessary as the company can remain anonymous and disclose rates. Even if an approximate rate is known, it allows writers to decide if it’s worth applying or not.
- There is no actual job–posted ads are there to estimate the potential cost of future writing projects. They are gauging the market or using their findings to generate market surveys, infographics etc.
- The client has no idea what writing costs–if this is the case, then expect similar professionalism in other areas.
If Rates are Not Visible, Move On
How much of your time do you spend pitching ideas or seeking new clients? I’d estimate 20% of my time is taken up with these activities. I generally get it out of the way early in the morning, checking Google and Talkwalker Alerts (free and adds Twitter and Message Boards to alert searches) in between each completed project. So, every 10 hours, I spend two pitching or responding to potential clients. Unfortunately, even these are mostly composed of spam.
For example, an ad listed on Problogger came from METRO, part of CBS Interactive and called CNETContent…no rates disclosed but a big company… Of course, CNET drew my attention but after a little online checking, it turned out to be a crowdsourcing /micro-tasking model, where both editors and writers are part of this crowd. They test you etc. to make sure you are ‘qualified’ and then according to one Reddit post, the princely sum of $5 to $10 per hour can be yours writing short product reviews, if you can battle successfully against so-called editors that are also chasing money in the timeframe, you are allowed to complete the task and receive payment.
I wasted 10-15 mins checking it out, time I won’t get back. Problogger clearly states that payment details are necessary but advertisers seem to ignore it.
Hire a Writer Without Disclosing Rates and Other Fables
My advice is to treat any offered position that does not disclose rates in the manner it deserves and ignore it. Reputable sites and recruitment portals make it a condition when posting an ad. In addition, it is worth pointing out that content marketing platforms of note (Contently, Skyword, nDash, ClearVoice etc.) always post rates when opportunities arise.
Adjectives such as ‘competitive’, ‘industry’, and ‘attractive’ are meaningless. Some clients think 2c a word is a lot of money. Similarly, “Earn $$$” on “high-paid opportunities” are to be ignored. As writers, we deal in facts.
Should we behave otherwise?
A final note to clients who fail to disclose rates:
Please, pretty please, give all writers a chance to assess a potential job accurately, by disclosing the budget available or rates per task. A writer brief would be helpful as well. We (or I am, if alone in this point of view) are not interested in project or company details when pertinent details are omitted. We are service providers and not prepared to waste our time pitching or supplying resumes to amateurs who fail to comprehend the importance of disclosing rates. In any case, until detailed discussion has taken place via the provided email, the only resume you’ll receive has all contact info (apart from URLs) removed.