The Biggest Pricing Mistake You Can Make

There is a devastating pricing mistake that almost every copywriter has made. (Me included.)

Here's what typically happens.

Let's say a potential new client calls you. She’s the marketing director of a large company and has a white paper writing project she wants you to quote on. It's right up your alley. You're excited! You want the work. And, if you do a good job for her, she could potentially send a lot more work your way in the future.

But first you have to quote the job. Hmm. How much do you charge?

You don't want to take any chances. So you quote a low fee, a real bargain, just to ensure you get the project.

Big mistake.

Why? There are two reasons.

First, when you quote too low, you look like an amateur. It's a red flag. The client thinks, "This copywriter must be a beginner." The thing is, she wants to hire a professional who can work independently and write great copy – a well-trained copywriter – not someone who doesn't know what they're doing or may require a lot of direction and hand-holding.

So quoting a bargain rate may actually lose you the project, along with any future opportunities with that client.

But low-balling sometimes (rarely, but sometimes) works. So what if you quote a bargain price and do get the job?

Well, that's the second reason why quoting too low is a big mistake. You get locked in at that bargain basement rate.

You see, when a new client receives a first-time quote from you, it's like a calibration setting. The price level becomes fixed in her mind – and it is very, VERY difficult to raise your fees to that same client later on.

Think about it. If you charged a measly $250 the first time you wrote a two-page sell sheet for a B2B client, what are the chances that you can get $500 for a similar sell sheet later on?


The client would balk at your 100% increase in fees. Even if you explained that you gave her a great deal on that first project, she would still feel ripped off.

And, from our perspective, I can tell you from experience there is nothing more miserable than toiling away on projects that are paying you far less than you could have been earning.

I understand how tempting it can be to quote a low fee. There are a lot of issues that come into play. You want the job. You may feel uncomfortable or even too shy to quote a higher rate. You may not even know what the professional rate is for a particular B2B copywriting project. (And if this is the case, I’ve got you covered. See below.)

But, despite the temptation, know that a client is MUCH more impressed by a copywriter who confidently quotes an accurate, professional fee than one who comes in at a low price, as if begging for the work.

So quote the right fee (hint: it's probably much higher than you're quoting right now) and clients will take you more seriously. You'll have a much better chance of getting the work. And you'll earn more money, too.

How to Price B2B Writing Projects

How to Price, Quote, and Win B2B Writing Projects

Take the guesswork out of setting your B2B copywriting prices and increase your per project income up to 50%. Learn More »

Click to Rate:
Average: 5.0
Published: March 7, 2011

Guest, Add a Comment
Please Note: Your comments will be seen by all visitors.

You are commenting as a guest. If you’re an AWAI Member, Login to myAWAI for easier commenting, email alerts, and more!

(If you don’t yet have an AWAI Member account, you can create one for free.)

This name will appear next to your comment.

Your email is required but will not be displayed.

Text only. Your comment may be trimmed if it exceeds 500 characters.

Type the Shadowed Word
Too hard to read? See a new image | Listen to the letters

Hint: The letters above appear as shadows and spell a real word. If you have trouble reading it, you can use the links to view a new image or listen to the letters being spoken.

(*all fields required)