Somewhere along the way, the idea was introduced that true artists are willing to starve to make their craft. I've met too many writers, painters, photographers, etc. who are willing to sell their talent for the lowest dollar without ever considering the value they bring to the table. If I must starve to be a "real" writer, then I'm out. The good news is there is a way to create a financially sustainable path to being a professional writer.

People are willing to pay for services that relieve their "pain."

In any sales situation (and whether you are a doctor, lawyer, dentist, business leader, writer, sculptor, painter, etc. -- everyone sells something) you must know the level of "pain" the prospect has is the primary determining variable in what size of fee the prospect is willing to pay for your services.

Pain often manifests itself in the form of lack of time, opportunity, skill, or perspective. A company or individual's willingness to pay for a particular service or product is in direct proportion to the perception of their pain.

  • If a company needs a sales letter written that will generate $5,000,000, then is $15,000 for sales copy unreasonable?
  • If a consultant knows that a trade book will help them close twelve more consulting gigs a year with an average fee of $50,000 too much to pay for that book?
  • If a nonprofit wants to share stories of mission impact during a campaign that is expected to increase the donor base by 10 percent with an average lifetime gift value of $100,000, then is $10,000 too much to pay for an eBook?

(Note: These numbers are for illustration purposes only.)

If your goal is to find someone to pay you to write, you'll always land at the bottom of the fee scale. If your goal is to help others accomplish their personal or organizational goals, then you become a strategic partner and your fees increase.

Change your fees by understanding your value.

The fees you command are directly related to the value you provide in helping other people be successful. Another way to say it is this: your fees are directly related to the size of the pain and the urgency of the prospect to relieve or eliminate that pain entirely.

How do you communicate value, and how has that impacted the fees you receive for the services you provide?

Image Credit: Shutterstock

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