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The rate debate

Community Guru
Kathryn B Member Since: Jul 22, 2015
1 of 73

Sitting here with coffee in hand, I wandered over to my own profile to decide on my current rate.  As I decided to make adjustments, several comments here on the forum ran through my head, creating complete chaos.

 

As a mother of four, chaos is nothing new for me, so I stuffed it all into a corner, adjusted my current rate to reflect a more open schedule, and hit the SAVE button.  

 

It was not until then that I pulled out the box of chaos and started to really examine what it contained.  Inside that box were comments like those that follow:

 

  • You need to raise your rate or you will never find decent work.
  • Working for low rates will give you a bad history.
  • Low rates usually denote low quality.
  • Your rates make it harder for real writers to find good paying work.
  • If everyone raised their rates we would find better clients on UpWork.
  • Clients have no idea of value because freelancers don't charge proper rates.
  • With rates that low, you'll never get a good client.
  • Why should clients pay you more when you've never worked for more?

Now, don't get me wrong.  I understand that working for less than .01 per word is nearly the same as paying the client for the privilege of a little bit of feedback.  I do not disagree with that on the whole.  However, the nearly elitist attitude towards what we each choose as a rate is a bit unsettling.

 

For example, my rate fluctuates.  I place proposals on a case-by-case basis and charge what I feel is necessary to cover my research time, drafting, editing, proofreading and any images I need to source or take myself.  What I choose to charge should not matter to anyone else, as it is the rate I choose to cover my time.

 

In the same token, I would never look at a writer charging .25 per word and say "You charge too much.  Lower your rate by half to suit the rest of us."  To do so would be beyond unprofessional and rude.  What they choose to charge to cover their time is up to them.  Their specific requirements likely are not the same as my own.  Their cost-of-living could be much higher than my own as well.

 

I am not saying that there should not be a "standard" of sorts.  There  most certainly should be, as I do not like to see anyone working just to effectively pay for that privilege.  I simply have to wonder why we are so obsessed with what another freelancer has chosen as the value of their own time.

 

Also, many of those statements I listed are incorrect at their core.  Charging a low rate does not mean a person will never find "decent" work.  Nor does a low rate denote low quality.  And one person's lower rates do not at all affect my ability to find better work, as only my own work history and proposal can do that.

 

I go through this chaotic box of negativity on a regular basis, as it helps me to see it for what it is.  It is the sad example of how we can all be social garbage trucks sometimes, dumping our trash and bad feelings upon another to make ourselves feel a bit less overloaded.  What we need to realize, is that we should simply dump all of that negativity off at the dump where it belongs, rather than pouring it onto another person's lawn.

 

Just food for thought on a day when I'm feeling pretty darn good, because I have 100% JSS, a group of recent clients that were absolutely awesome to work with, and enough coffee to let me focus for a few moments on how others may feel in a world that seems to be turning into an "All About Me" show.

 

You're obviously free to discuss the topic, it's an open forum.  However, I ask that you keep your tones civil and try to see things from each other's perspectives.  We don't all have the same situation, bills, families, etc. and I think sometimes we forget about that fact and expect everyone to have our view.

 

Cheers.

~I am only here when I can tolerate having my eyes blasted, my privacy treated like a joke, and my temper pushed to it's limit. For all other times, please request alternate contact methods~
Community Guru
Jennifer M Member Since: May 17, 2015
2 of 73

sweet dude

Community Guru
Kat C Member Since: Jul 11, 2016
3 of 73

Projection.

 

Everyone has a cognitive bias.

 

It's how human beings operate and we tend to extrapolate our experiences outward. 

 

What matters is what you do with the information because people aren't going to stop "should-ing" on others.

 

 

 

 

Community Guru
Tiffany S Member Since: Jan 15, 2016
4 of 73

I strongly agree that the "ruining it for the rest of us" argument is BS on two counts: it's not happening, and it wouldn't be your problem if it were.

 

That said, the "elitist" perception that you speak of does exist...among clients. That's why many experienced writers (and freelancers in other fields) encourage those who are having trouble getting established to raise their rates.  A client who sees that a person is willing to work for less than minimum wage will typically not view that person as a serious professional. 

 

Remember, most clients are business people. Business people set their rates based on their perceived value of their goods or services. Sometimes, they attempt to raise their rates beyond that point to see whether they can raise the perceived value in the market and make more money for the same product or service. Almost never do they engage in a process wherein they determine that their product is worth $27 and then decide to offer it for $8. By and large, they will assume that you, as an independent business person, are making the same sort of analysis, and that if you are offering your work at bottom basement rates, you are probably also offering bargrain basement quality.

 

The seasoned freelancer who shares this reality with you isn't being elitist--rightly or wrongly, it is a reality that a large percentage of clients think that way and will rule you out if your prices suggest that you're on the bottom rung of the industry.

Community Guru
Daniel C Member Since: Nov 21, 2010
5 of 73

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Community Guru
Tiffany S Member Since: Jan 15, 2016
6 of 73

@Kathryn B wrote:

 

Just food for thought on a day when I'm feeling pretty darn good, because I have 100% JSS, a group of recent clients that were absolutely awesome to work with, and enough coffee to let me focus for a few moments on how others may feel in a world that seems to be turning into an "All About Me" show.

 


 I missed this the first time through, so wanted to circle back and add that I find it ironic that you are making accusations about not thinking about how others feel and people being "all about me" based on the statements of busy, successful people who take the time to answer questions and offer advice in these forums PURELY for the benefit of those who are less experienced or have had less success here.

Community Guru
Kathryn B Member Since: Jul 22, 2015
7 of 73

I think perhaps I should clarify a few things.

 

1. I've made no accusations, but instead have noticed a trend and voiced my curiousity as to why we worry about what others choose to charge.  We, not I, not you, not them.  We, because I've done it too and had to stop myself.

 

2.  " However, the nearly elitist attitude towards what we each choose as a rate is a bit unsettling."  Perhaps elitist is the only word anyone is going to see in the entire post, however, it is directed at how we seem to view other's rates.  And yes, I said we.  I'm guilty of thinking people do not charge enough as well.

 

3. I find no irony in the fact that I am openly asking how others feel.  I actually clearly pointed out that I was taking a minute to do so, because I realize the world IS becoming an All About Me type of world.  Trying to be less "about me" and more about asking for other's thoughts.  Smiley Happy

 

That said, a few notes:

 

Kat C - Indeed.  We all have a view based on our own situation and I realize human behavior will not simply change.  I can hope that we all take that moment to ask "What do you think?" or "Why do you do that?" though, as the answer could give us better insight into how the other person views things from their end.  

 

Tiffany S - Darnit that started out great, and I respect your views.  We got twisted up on the end though, as what I said what not intended as an accusation at all.  I think perhaps you read it out of context, because it simply pointed out that at that moment I was focused and wondering how others felt.  Again, I think the context ended up muddled somewhere.  It was more meant as a "hey, you're people too, how do you feel about x?" because I get into that "about me" rut sometimes and I don't like being that way as a person.

 

"A client who sees that a person is willing to work for less than minimum wage will typically not view that person as a serious professional."  I agree, that is often the case, and even my own rates are low in comparison to some.  I just eventually looked past that perception, because I'm ok with my rates and figure if others want to judge, that's on them.  It doesn't stop me from wondering how others see things though, so sometimes I just get out there and ask.

 

Thank you, as your answers are very well thought out.  I also agree, there are some awesome people here who do take the time to make suggestions to others.  There is nothing wrong with it, it does help, and they are successful.  My concern is more about why we worry so much about what other's charge though.  As you said, the "ruining it for others" routine is a load of B.S. and we all know it.  So, in the end, why do we still do it?

 

Daniel - I'm going to storm that tower of marshmallows, ahem, Ivory.  No, seriously, I understand the client side of it.  Clients want quality but they also want a rate that compliments their bottom line.  

 

To be honest, if they are passing up what could be an outstanding freelancer just because their rate is low it's their loss.  But knowing why they do it and realizing it's their own loss often do not go hand-in-hand, which I have to admit creates a lot of "Why can't I find work?" posts that are unnecessary (in my view).  

 

As I said, even I am guilty of mentally saying "well you only charge $3.00/hr so...." and then having to stop myself and look at their location, portfolio, skills, etc. before I comment.  If they live in Bali and do data entry work part-time, they are likely charging what it costs for them to live (the cost of living in Bali is one reason I want to relocate there!).  After I look at all of that I end up thinking "well, I'm not going to knock it.  Just wish I could do that." and I move on.

 

And thank you guys, it's nice seeing a genuine discussion and getting a chance to better understand how each of us views things.Smiley Happy

 

 

~I am only here when I can tolerate having my eyes blasted, my privacy treated like a joke, and my temper pushed to it's limit. For all other times, please request alternate contact methods~
Community Guru
Daniel C Member Since: Nov 21, 2010
8 of 73

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Community Guru
Kathryn B Member Since: Jul 22, 2015
9 of 73

@Daniel C wrote:

People were pretty pissed when oDesk set a $3 minimum hourly wage. One side was mad because all of their clients would leave the platform. The other side was mad because the competition would undercut their rates, forcing them to lower their rates. Plenty of people were willing to work for much less. 

 

It was the wild wild West back in those days. It attracted the wrong kind of clients and freelancers. I thought the $3 minimum was a good idea, but there was so much opposition. 

 

I remember that period, as I had debated on making writing a full-time job back then, but no way was I giving up a good income from working with horses to fight for the rates offered back then.  I ran into one client that was super angry when I wouldn't move off of oDesk to work through Paypal.  It was not an ugly situation luckily, but it certainly put me off the platform.  I'm glad they changed and when I came back to see minimum hourly rates, minimum fixed-price budgets and the new fee system I was actually happy about it!

 

Here's a thread...

minimum hourly rate, Very Very BAD thing on oDesk

https://community.upwork.com/t5/Freelancers/minimum-hourly-rate-Very-Very-BAD-thing-on-oDesk/td-p/28...

 

Elance was the 'elitist' crowd at the time, before the $3 minimum. oDesk freelancers were commonly referred to as 'bottom-feeders'.

 

I would bring up ideas in the Water Cooler, and they would gang up and tell me 'what do you know? come back when you have experience!' They basically told me that my ideas were bad because of lack of experience.

 

Now I have more experience. I put into action what I was trying to share with others. They didn't want to hear it. It worked and now they can all **Edited for Community Guidelines** lol

 

Elance was consumed by oDesk when it became Upwork. They were surprised because Elance was the 'better platform' with all of the 'talented people' and the 'professional companies'. I told them Upwork was better but again they told me that I was dumb.

 

So I think I know where you are coming from with 'elitist attitude'. I try to be inclusive to involve more people. oDesk has always been the more friendly bunch. 

 

You're right though, some people have a bad attitude. I experienced it at Elance. I've experienced it here. I get bit by the attitude bug sometimes. Sometimes attitude is merely perception or unintentional ignorance.

 

 

P.S. "Only $3" is an achievement. I would like to see Upwork achieve more. Cat Very Happy

 

I've learned to try to push past those same things.  I think this is due to my understanding that there is no way to judge a person's tone through text.  While I may read something one way, my personal situation may cause me to read it incorrectly as per how the person intended it.  Now I have to re-read everything when I feel upset/irritated/confused by what is said in order to try to be sure I'm not "just" being reactive.  This thread is actually a great example, because I'm re-reading everyone's statements before I reply and trying to see everything from another view.  To be honest, it's great practice for me as I find it helps to make it a permanent way of thinking.  A "ok they're not me, time to put on their shoes for a minute" style of thinking if you will.

 

And I'd love to see UpWork do even better, as well as everyone on the platform.  I'm a firm believer that anyone can achieve success if they find what they are best suited to doing!


 

~I am only here when I can tolerate having my eyes blasted, my privacy treated like a joke, and my temper pushed to it's limit. For all other times, please request alternate contact methods~
Community Guru
Tiffany S Member Since: Jan 15, 2016
10 of 73

@Kathryn B wrote:

 

 

 

 

"A client who sees that a person is willing to work for less than minimum wage will typically not view that person as a serious professional."  I agree, that is often the case, and even my own rates are low in comparison to some.  I just eventually looked past that perception, because I'm ok with my rates and figure if others want to judge, that's on them.  It doesn't stop me from wondering how others see things though, so sometimes I just get out there and ask.

 

Thank you, as your answers are very well thought out.  I also agree, there are some awesome people here who do take the time to make suggestions to others.  There is nothing wrong with it, it does help, and they are successful.  My concern is more about why we worry so much about what other's charge though.  As you said, the "ruining it for others" routine is a load of B.S. and we all know it.  So, in the end, why do we still do it?

 

 


 Thank you for the considered response. 

 

I can't speak for anyone else, but the only reason I care about anyone else's rates is that I care about everyone's success. That may sound silly and even disingenuous, but it's the truth. I've done a ton of mentoring of young writers, offering free writers groups and workshops, etc. and when someone says, "I can't make this work," my inclination is to help them figure out why.

 

If someone says, "I can't get a good job" and I look at their profile and discover that they've made a weak marketing pitch or that they have multiple typos or grammatical errors or whatever, I mention that. If I think they're excluding themselves from good markets with their posted rate and their past jobs, I mention that. That's all. I don't like to see people struggle unnecessarily.

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