The Dreaded Bulk Rate: Save It for Costco

Welcome to Writer Rants–where every Friday a writer just lets loose on whatever the heck is bugging them this week. Enjoy.

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Who wants to do more work for less money? Show of hands. Anyone? No? OK. How about a lot more work for less money? Bueller? Bueller? It amazes me how differently content writers are treated in comparison to other professionals.

I’ve personally worked in many different fields in the business world. I’ve worked for state government, in school districts, in marketing firms, and in retail. In all my experience, I’ve never seen a great worker — known for their valuable expertise, careful planning, and keen problem-solving skills — asked if they wanted a promotion that came with an awesome pay cut. And yet, that is what freelance copy writers are asked to do.

The last time I was approached by a client with the bulk rate discount, they offered me half of my rate per word because they had, what they perceived to be, a large order. My first thought was, “What am I, Costco?” I don’t think the client was trying to offend me. Perhaps their request came from a place that is nourished in our society — the more you buy, the cheaper the price per unit.

Unfortunately for our clients, we don’t sell mayonnaise by the gallon. My words don’t come in bulk. There’s no store where I can pick them off the shelves, buy a neat little organizer, and store them in a closet for the next time I’m all tapped out.

The words come from my head, the Internet, books, other people, and my experiences. These things don’t magically pour out of me like fine wine when someone tells me I have 100 articles to write versus five. Each one takes planning, development, critical-thinking, creativity, and skill.

And so when the client broaches the subject, we are forced to make the decision — is it worth it?

While the bulk rate can be offensive, I do see some merit to giving a slight discount for a significant order. That comes from the savings of time in marketing and the anxiety that comes from the feast or famine cycle of our trade. But, alas, if you are a writer who is not at a loss for work and you have the choice of a lower paying, high volume gig or one that pays your normal rate, go with your gut. You don’t want to be sacrificing well-paying jobs for lower-paying ones.

Every content writer has to make this decision for themselves. Whether you take the bulk rate or not, the question at the root of the issue is — how much is that order worth to you? When you come up with a price, let the client know — just don’t undervalue yourself. Your words don’t decrease in value because you write more of them.

Nicole H is a multi-tasking mom of twins whose unnatural love of fountain soda and chocolate fuel her creativity in the quest to create content that kills.

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