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How to Negotiate for Higher Rates with Content Clients

Every freelancer wants to know how they can make more money with what they do. When it comes to content writing? The world’s your burrito, baby.

You might be scared off by clients used to low rates at “content mills” where poor to medium quality work is expected to be churned out for pennies on the dollar. Suddenly, they’re balking at what you’re charging and want to know why you won’t work for less than 25 CPW when so-and-so will do it for the 5-star rate or less. Whereas on WriterAccess, we’re allowed to set our own rates and some content platforms only allow you to work for set rates.

If you’ve been hitting the walls with low pay, here’s how you can start commanding higher rates even if you’re not in a specialty known for high pay like finance or tech.

Prove That You’re SEO-Native

This is actually one of the foremost things that brands and agencies seek in hiring content writers of the best caliber. You can have the strongest command of the English language in the world, making the old masters gasp, but if you don’t know how brands actually use that content then you’re going to have a harder time getting the pay you deserve for that skill.

If you’re wondering why one writer gets 30 CPW for her work in the same exact topic areas you handle, and you accuse her of bragging about it, it’s because she sells being SEO-native. Not every brand is familiar with how the content ordering process works and sometimes they need a little hand-holding in figuring out their precise goals with it. This doesn’t mean you need to stop everything you’re doing to get 12-week intensive training course in content strategy or learn HTML. But it certainly helps to go for some of the free certificates that HubSpot offers, like Inbound, because the three hours I set aside for it when work was slow this winter wound up producing huge blooms in spring and summer. And by “blooms” I mean “really nice buckets of cash for my labor”.

You’re not writing the great American novel here, or pitching the New York Times. You’re writing for dentist offices, IT help desks, and fruit leather companies looking to market to Millennials fed up with corn syrup. If you want to get paid more and the prospect balks at your rates, tell them, “Sure, you can pay this writer $50 to get the job done or you can give me $150 and I can get your page to be the top result on Google.”

Focus on Pain

I’m a fan of HR expert Liz Ryan’s “pain letter” approach. While it was initially designed for corporate jobs, it wonderfully applies to almost any kind of freelance work and writing is no exception.

What kind of clients do you want to target?

What is a common pain that they have not just in ordering or creating content, but in their operations and communications?

I upped my pay with many financial clients because the biggest problem I saw working in small tax offices is that they’re so busy, they don’t really stop to think about things like content strategy. Ergo, they don’t realize all of their client-facing communications sound like they’re meant for other accountants and they were very general pieces of information about tax code updates, rather than useful information tailored to large segments of the clientele.

“Sure, you can pay 5-star rates for your newsletter. Or do you want to give me $350 to revolutionize your email strategy so that your open and click-through rates will increase because I can write copy that appeals to your client base?”


Content writing is a whole other animal compared to other types of writing like editorial and journalistic pieces, essays, academic writing, and long-form fiction. Sometimes it can straddle these areas but in the end, you’re literally writing for the Internet and need to approach it in this case unless the client says so otherwise. Being a subject matter expert or having experience with certain industries or publications can boost your negotiating power. But by focusing on common pains that the client type has along with proving that you know how to write for search engines and the desired user base, your rainmaking possibilities really open up. Get more freelance writing tips by following the WriterAccess Freelancer Blog!


Prior to taking up the game development and writing hustler life, Rachel P. worked as a tax advisor. She still retains an Enrolled Agent license for tax law writing purposes. Rachel has 10 years of tax practice experience ranging from retail tax preparation to white-shoe firm, and solo practice. She worked with Prometric and high-ranking IRS directors in developing the Enrolled Agent exam for three years running, determining minimum competency requirements for Enrolled Agents along with creating and editing exam content. She also worked with Pearson to develop educational tax law content for use in online adult education programs.

Guest Author

By WriterAccess

Freelancer Rachel P

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