F-You, Pay Me Ep.3

#3 Now Get Paid

In this information-packed episode, Brad and Daniel talk all things payment from how to set rates to negotiating with troublesome clients and beyond.

Brad also offers a look into how he manages payment procedures at his company and the tactics he uses to ensure clients pay.

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Daniel: (00:00)

Okay. Well hello everybody and welcome back to episode three of how to become a paid professional writer with once again, my guest today, Brad Smith. Hello Brad.

Brad: (00:10)

Hello Daniel. Thank you. That was you phrased that’s very conservatively the title of this episode.

Daniel: (00:17)

Well, thank you. We don’t want to over-promise, you know what you’ve given us so far has been very valuable. I know I’ve thought about it a little bit in terms of prioritizing cash, making sure that you know you’re getting paid. That’s a really, that’s a big focus that sometimes writers miss. And in the idea of specializing actually trying to find your niche and particular clients that value what you do, you know, understanding what they value and then actually you know, starting to target them so you’re getting paid better for the writing you’re doing. And today in this third part I really wanted to get into the idea of actually getting paid, because I know we’ve talked before and it’s true that a lot of writers are just really bad at the process of getting paid. You know, that’s, it’s nice to do. But what’s the usual process in terms of the actual kind of processing and the terms that you negotiate and then also, you know, the different things like how you quantify the cost and things like that. So would you mind sharing a little bit of advice around the idea of actually getting paid, like what the process has been or what you’ve learned over the years?

Brad: (01:19)

Yeah, definitely. And so I’ll give like a quick backstory for some context. I may have mentioned some of these pieces already, but uh, when I first started freelance writing, I had no idea what I was doing or what I should have priced or how to price stuff. Like I literally had no idea, kind of like we’re talking about, was it per word, per piece, whatever. One of my first paid gigs was 6 cents a word, right? Which in theory, I didn’t know how per word pricing breaks down. So, in theory, I was like, I dunno, it sounds fine. You know, until you do the math. So once again, do the math sit down with like a simple calculator spreadsheet. 1,000 words might take you, what, three, four hours to write. Times 6 cents a word. That’s only 60 bucks divided by three, four hours.

Brad: (02:03)

That’s like 15 bucks an hour, 10-15 bucks an hour. And all of a sudden that value proposition doesn’t really make sense. You could just go get a job at Starbucks for 15 bucks an hour and get free coffee and get life or health insurance. So it’s like when you start actually running the math, you’re like, wait a minute, this doesn’t work. So, um, from there, a lot of times when you’re writing by yourself or when someone’s looking to work with freelance writers, so they, maybe they work with a couple of freelance writers, but it’s not more of an agency. And if you’re starting on the cheaper end of the spectrum per word, pricing is pretty standard or pretty common. One of the things we might get into a little bit and some stuff we touched on already is how do you increase those rates? But for context, within like six months to a year, I went from 6 cents a word to 15 cents a word which doubles, you know, your money and then up to 25 cents a word. And then I think now even we don’t charge per word anymore but it would probably be closer to like 50 cents to a dollar

Brad: (03:00)

if I had to guess. Um, And then at a certain point, depending on how you want to work and engagements with clients, some when you’re working with like a bunch of random clients and you’re doing a couple pieces a month, generally, um, they tend to keep you or stick you on per work pricing. When that changes, you can start doing like per piece pricing, uh, or more of like an engagement where it’s like X amount of articles for this price range a month. Um, the problem with per word pricing as well, like segue into the next question I’m sure here is you obviously can’t always come up with your per word pricing until after you’ve finished the article, in which case you’re billing maybe 30 days after the work and then you’re getting paid maybe 30 days after that. And so it puts you into this negative cashflow position where you’re constantly taking on odd jobs for cash and a host of other problems. So that’s maybe one of the next, the next questions that we’ll segue into here is payment terms. Cause that also has a huge bearing on how someone should price, um, or, or how they should change their pricing to potentially make you know what they should be making from the, from the get-go.

Daniel: (04:08)

Yeah, absolutely. You’re exactly right. That was the next question cause I know one thing you had said before was, or maybe I read it for you, written it before. You said always try to get paid at the start or get paid something at the start if you can rather than at the end. So would you mind talking about that? Yeah, for sure. So pretty quickly,

Brad: (04:26)

I realized even now we don’t have many engagements where we don’t get paid at the very beginning. So we push almost all clients. And again, you have to become better. You have to become more in demand. You have to have some level of control to do this, but we try to push most clients to pay us at the beginning of the month. Um, a couple of ways you could do that is, especially if you’re just starting out, is um, maybe you even bluff a little bit and you say, Hey, actually my pricing is like twice what it used to be. Um, but I’ll discount it 10% if you pay me at the beginning of the month. Right? So that’s one like super easy strategy that most people could do probably tomorrow. Or another thing like saying, Hey, this one works really well with legacy clients. So if you remember you have legacy clients from like six months ago, that might not be getting charged as much.

Brad: (05:18)

Um, so you go to them and if, and if you still feel bad about raising rates on them, you can say, Hey, all my new clients are paying this now. How about this? I won’t raise rates on you for another six months, but you have to pay me at the beginning of the month now instead of at the end of the month. So those are super simple things I would highly recommend doing. Um, because the problem of playing catch up on getting, you know, collecting money, collecting cash, uh, is that you’re, you’re in this negative cashflow position and if you try to do anything else to scale, if you try to become bigger, if you try to bring on help to subcontract, uh, your payment terms won’t line up with the other people and all of a sudden you’re fronting money not just for yourself but for other people on top of, on top of your own money that you need to take out pay for your own bills, uh, and it just, it doesn’t work. Then you know, the numbers don’t line up. You run into a cash flow position where on paper you should be making money. But in reality, you’re never making money cause you’re always playing catch up.

Daniel: (06:14)

Yes, I’ve definitely been there. Had the feeling. Yeah. And that’s an interesting thing you say about, you know, you create the terms, because I was just thinking that most businesses when you think about it, you know, you go to a store to buy coffee or whatever, like any, any kind of transaction, most of the time you pay upfront, right? That’s pay. Then you get the product or the service, whatever it is. But I mean, I guess besides say the doctors or I know restaurants, you pay at the end, but writers for some reason are willing to take those same terms, right? Oh, okay, just pay me after I’m done or something. That’s not normal.

Brad: (06:46)

No, it’s not. Not at any, like for a meal, maybe there are 30 minutes where you order and then you didn’t pay. But like at any other industry, you know, you go to like get your tires replaced. Like they charge you the minute you like get there and you’re figuring out the scope or whatever. Like they’re not gonna let you leave and then pay them 30 days later. So it’s, it’s huge this happens too with web designers, web developers, they’re all like way too lax on terms in general. Again, this takes some level of both confidence and demand to be able to set your own terms. Um, we set our own terms with the vast majority of clients. With clients where we can’t control all the terms- maybe they’re just like really big and we have to kind of work with their terms-we still push for fast turnaround, so we still say we need to get paid within 30 days.

Brad: (07:35)

Like we don’t do net 30, cause net 30 for people who don’t know is, is you’re going to do the work, you’re going to bill at the end of the period, so the end of the month you’re going to bill and they still have another 30 days to pay you. But most big companies don’t even stick to that own schedule, even though that’s in their own contract, they’ll stretch that out to 45, 60 days. Yeah. So you’re going two, three months without getting paid. And that’s like when you’re trying to eat dinner at night, that doesn’t really work. So, um, we have terms that say, you know, if someone balks at the idea of paying within like, you know, a week of the beginning of the month, has to be within 30 days, if not within 30 days, we usually tack on a higher fee. So that’s kind of like, that’s kind of the poker game that we play is if a client says, no, you know, I can’t do those payment terms, we say, okay, fine, it’s going to cost you 30% more. Yeah. And then, and then it’s up to them where it’s like they can either pay that and be fine with it, in which case we make this huge premium on just waiting for the money, or they change their payment terms and work with us. So, you know what I mean? Like it kind of forces the clients to rethink, uh, you know, how to, how to work on your terms basically. Yeah.

Daniel: (08:42)

Yeah, it makes sense. It’s like they’re paying more for the same product, but they can choose to do that if they want to.

Brad: (08:47)

Yup. Yeah, exactly.

Daniel: (08:48)

Definitely. That’s great. Okay, very smart. Does that work at a one to one level two, like say you’re at, you know, just a single person, freelancer and you are trying to negotiate with say a small business or something? Is that as common or are people more resistant to paying upfront?

Brad: (09:01)

They’ll be a little more resistant at the beginning. Uh, part of that you can get through if you’re talking to enough prospects. Another thing you can always do is give them like a onetime option or whatever. So you could say like, here is, or maybe I’ll do, you know because we’re just getting to know each other and you want to see how my process works. How about this? I’ll go ahead and do the first article for you. If you like it, then you pay for it. And then going forward, I’m going to bill you at the beginning of the month. If you don’t like it, if you don’t like it at all and you don’t want this article, then you don’t even have to pay me. I’ll just take it and I’ll do something else with this article. So you could also like, uh, give them kind of like a one time option for that because most small businesses are a lot more frugal with spending with budgets cause it’s their own money and so they’re a little more hesitant to, to go out on a limb.

Brad: (10:02)

However, it is one of those things too where it’s like, I think that if you phrase it that way, if you phrase it like, Hey if you don’t like it, I’ll do edits. If you still don’t like it, don’t pay me for it. That usually helps build confidence in them too. So it’s kind of a give and take where you give them, it’s a risk reversal in like marketing terms. So you’re taking that risk off their plates, like a money-back guarantee. Um, but you’re getting what you want ultimately at the end of the day, which is better payment terms on the backend.

Daniel: (10:33)

Yeah. And that makes sense because that’s sort of exactly what I was thinking. You know, someone who is brand new maybe hasn’t hired a writer before maybe they want a sample and I can look at other work you’ve done. But then when it comes to their individual needs, they might be hesitant to pay upfront for something or, yeah. So that’s great. You’re offering that risk reversal and then from there, they pay upfront, you know, for future pieces on that point too. Do you tend to go into, you know, contracts for a certain period or is that something you suggest as well? Like three months, six months, 12 months?

Brad: (11:04)

Yeah, I would, um, there are a few ways to do it at different levels. So we do usually around six-month engagements to start with clients. We offer pretty easy terms though in terms of if people want to get out of that. So we don’t, a lot of other agencies, I know will do like annual agreements and you like can’t get out of it. Yeah. We don’t do that because the kind of work we do, the scope changes a lot. And so we need some level of flexibility. The other reason we do it is because we want to negotiate harder on price and terms meaning like when we get paid and how much we’re getting paid and we charge on the premium end. So it’s almost like my risk reversal to the client in that I tell them like, look, if you guys aren’t happy, just let me know and we’ll cancel the agreement like tomorrow.

Brad: (11:48)

Yeah. Because I don’t want you guys feeling like you’re stuck in this engagement that you don’t want to be in either a and if you’re not happy, the client’s not happy, then they’ll probably make your life a living hell too. So then you’re not going to be happy. Like you’re going to hate seeing their emails come in and stuff. With smaller people or smaller like engagements, I would still recommend trying to do something similar, but you’re going to have a lot less control overall in terms of the, again, like a small, someone will probably laugh at you if you try to sign them up for $1,000 a month, like ironclad with some huge contract. A client is probably going to say like, no. But the way to do it, the way I would do it is again, use pricing. So again, maybe you mark up your rates.

Brad: (12:33)

Maybe, I mean, even take like, let’s say you charge $100 article. Maybe like put that up to like 300 or 200 and then say, you know, if you, if you sign up for a monthly, um, there are different ways to do this, but like if you just sign up for a monthly, payments, a recurring monthly payments, and you can cancel at any time, but your cards would get charged on the first of the month, then, then I’ll charge you like 1$50. I’ll give you a 25% discount or something. But if you cancel that, if you cancel it, and you stop working at any given time, you’re gonna have to pay the new rates if you want to work together again in the future so your rates can, so if you want to cancel, you can cancel a, but if you want to come back three months later, my rates three months from now are going to be higher than they are now. So you can kind of play around with some of the other variables in a way to ultimately get what you want.

Daniel: (13:21)

Kind of like a cell phone plan, you know. You can leave anytime, but if you want to come back, he’s paying the premium, right? Yeah. And I love that because it’s just making you think more like a business. That’s exactly what other businesses do. You know, subscription companies, whatever. You can’t get that rate again if you leave, but you can totally leave if you want to. You know? So yeah, it gives you the choice and gives your client that choice. You just mentioned there about credit cards. So is that something you recommend where you actually charge a credit card for, you know, an individual or a business versus invoicing them and try and get, you know, checks paid or direct deposits?

Brad: (13:56)

Yes. Uh, we will accept checks. Now. I don’t think anyone pays us by checks. I don’t like checks. People, you know, “put the check in the mail” in air quotes, and then you never see it. There’s a lot of like mystery or a gray area around checks and as a business person with like bills to pay, I don’t like gray area. I like black and white and so I’m more than fine, again, in air quotes, eating the cost of payment processing fees to let someone pay via credit or debit on an invoice. So we still invoice everyone monthly. Some of those people signed up to be auto paid, so the invoice still goes out, but then it’ll automatically run their card at the same time. Some people pay within a week or two of when the invoice is sent and a lot of times that’s with a credit card.

Brad: (14:51)

Again, I just mark up my fees. So don’t, don’t do this. A lot of like small-time contractors try to do this with us too, where it’s like they tell you here’s the rates and then, uh, three months later, a month later you’ve got to pay them and they’re like, Oh, wait a minute. What about that $11 PayPal fee and as a business person and your clients are going to feel the same way. I’m like, don’t, don’t effing email me about an $11 PayPal fee. Like this is a cost of doing business. So raise your rates a little bit, raise your rates $10 or whatever, cover the payment processing, make your client’s life simple, but tell them they have to pay via credit card and they have to pay within X amount of days. Otherwise, you know, there are other things you’re gonna hold back or do to make sure that you control view.

Brad: (15:37)

If you give them the content and you don’t get paid, you have zero recourse. Like you have zero ability to go back to them and complain or say anything to get the leverage back. So a lot of times with clients, if they don’t when it starts getting to the middle or end of the month and a client hasn’t the paid, we will email them and say, Hey, we have like your articles are ready for review. Um, we’ll go ahead and send those over when you pay your bill. Right? So we hold back like the actual deliverable until we see the money come in. Then once the money comes in, or at least you see, you know, payment successful, then you know, the money’s coming in within a certain amount of days. Um, the other thing we do a lot of, especially on bigger accounts is just wire transfers. So set up wire transfers with your bank.

Brad: (16:22)

This is going way beyond, but I would recommend multiple checking accounts. And I would recommend doing this within, hopefully, some kind of a business arrangement because it gets really messy if you’re doing it on your personal, if you’re like a sole proprietor and you’re having multiple checking accounts and maybe you have one for business and one for personal, but it gets messy if you don’t have things organized. So we have an account that we give to, which is our income account that we give wire transfer information to clients so they can just wire us the money so that way we can accept very large sums and not have to you know, go to the mailbox and see if it came today or today was a bank holiday so maybe it’s coming after the weekend or all the other kind of dumb back and forth you usually have with that.

Daniel: (17:10)

Yeah. Yeah. It’s funny you say that because my very first paid client was actually, it was a check he sent me. It was a business and he had to get a cut by the account and everything. It was like a printed check. And I had to take it to the bank. So painful. And then after that, I’m like, no, just transfer it.

Brad: (17:28)

Yeah, exactly. It’s a, it’s a cost of doing business. Raise your rates a little bit, make convenience. We talked about value, providing value to a client, convenience is part of that. Like make your life simple and make your clients’ life simple. And usually a lot of the other stuff, like hopefully it goes away.

Daniel: (17:44)

Yeah. And that’s a good point too, that don’t, you know, push those little tedious costs or complain about them to clients just either eat the cost or raise your rates so that they’re not gonna notice a difference anyway. And then you’re not, getting into that nickel and diming kind of mentality with them.

Brad: (17:59)

Yeah, for sure. I mean, it’s like anything, you mentioned phone calls a minute ago. It’s like, or with my bank now, even, it’s like if I set up a separate checking account and I don’t have a certain balance in there, they’re gonna charge me $15 a month or something. Right? That’s a standard term. So I’m not gonna go complain to the bank because that’s their term to begin with. It’s just like a dumb thing to complain about stuff. Especially to a client. Don’t complain to clients first off. But beyond that like don’t nickel and dime people. If your friend, if you like bought drinks for your friend at dinner, you’re not going to like expect an IOU for $10 the next time you guys go out. Do you know what I mean?

Brad: (18:39)

It was like I was just like helping them and give them something and so I’m not expecting them to cover my $10 PayPal fee in return. It gets, becomes really weird. And you already set terms. You already set at the beginning, you already set your pricing, you already talked about all that. And so now trying to like throw an audible up and like get people to cover extra fees. I mean there are other things we can do too. One thing I will note actually, cause I’m here, I’m telling writers to charge a prime. We have our writers bill us at the end of the month. And there’s a practical reason for that because we have a lot of writers and they’re all. They have different terms. We have international writers that I have to pay them different ways. We have to verify all the invoices against approved work.

Brad: (19:20)

So it takes time to figure all that stuff out. But the flip side of that is we, um, can set like domestic employees up in our payroll service so that even if they’re contractors, we can pay them direct deposit without fees, for example. We can pay a lot more money too. So we could pay more on a per article rate, but we can also pay more in a lump sum. So we have like multiple contractors, not employees. We have employees too, but contractors making over $5,000 a month. We have one contract writer making over $10,000 a month. And so they’re trading steady work for like a couple of weeks of payment delay if that makes sense. Because there’s just based on the business, there are pros and cons to each approach. So there’s just different factors here. Payment upfront is always the best if you can push it. If you can’t push it, what are, what do you get in return? You get a stable amount of work. Do you get better rates or higher margins? Like there should be kind of a give and take in terms of um, not just your pricing and rates but also like how you actually collect your money and uh, you know, fund your lifestyle.

Daniel: (20:27)

Yeah. That’s great. I love just the general mentality because it’s, as I was saying before, I think it makes you think more as a business person and you know, business owner rather than just the creative writer type, you know, which we all can fall into as well.

Brad: (20:39)

Yeah, I think it’s important to recognize. Again, especially when we’re talking about dealing with businesses or dealing with someone you’re producing content for and end results for them. A lot of times writers need to mentally separate again, writing ability with what you’re charging and what you’re getting and what the client’s getting. Clients, especially business people don’t always take that into account. So it’s pricing, payment terms, they’re all about the end result of the end of the day. They have nothing to do with like your actions or very little. Your just innate writing ability, your creativity, like how clever you are phrasing. So I think it’s important for people, for writers mentally to think, to be able to separate the worlds. Otherwise, they take it personally. Like if someone doesn’t pay them or pay them on time, they take it personally like, Oh, they hate my work, or I suck as a writer. Or they’re very different worlds. And so people need to mentally make that distinction.

Daniel: (21:37)

Yeah, exactly. And especially if a business has, like you were saying earlier, a lot of the time people aren’t spending their own money. They’re spending the businesses’ money. They’re an employee of that company, so they don’t even have that kind of emotional connection. So for them, big deal, if I didn’t pay you this week, you know, they don’t care.

Brad: (21:51)

Exactly. You need to understand how their business works. So a lot of times it’s not, your direct report is not the person paying you and it’s not the person in charge of the money. Right? So you’d understand factor all that stuff in where sometimes you need to be rude to that person, but sometimes it has nothing to do with them. You need to get them on your side and have them help be an advocate to talk to their payable department or whoever else is like actually, you know, footing the bill.

Daniel: (22:18)

Yeah. Yeah. That’s so true. And just to touch again, you mentioned about, you know, if someone doesn’t pay, I think that’s a really good insight too about not giving over the work so easily. You know, don’t just give them the work without them paying you because then you’ve got nothing to bargain with.

Brad: (22:33)

Yup. Yeah. So contracts, unfortunately, aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on for small people. Even like us, like we work with really big companies, but we’re almost never in a position where we could enforce a contract. We couldn’t even enforce our own contract. And what I mean by that is we’ve had companies break our contracts and I talked to a lawyer about it and they say, well, they owe you $20,000 which sucks but it’s going to cost you probably $40,000 in legal fees to fight this, in which case you still might not collect. And even if you do, you might not get that money for like another year. So it’s just like, well, I can’t do anything. I mean, I can do something about it, but is it worth it? And so for most small companies, for most small enterprises, freelance writers, whatever, your only recourse is to hold back the deliverables, the work that’s being paid.

Brad: (23:26)

In a lot of cases, in most cases, you should have some kind of contract that stipulates this, but even if you can’t, you can usually argue it in that the IP, the intellectual property, the ownership of that stuff doesn’t transfer until the money gets paid in full for that work. And so you should have a document of some sort that says that. And that’s pretty standard across web design, again any creative field. And that’s always like your saving grace because you can just say, okay, we’re going to hold as I mentioned, and we’re pretty nice about it to start with. Like, it’s just like, Hey, I don’t want the project to get delayed. I don’t want to have to like pull writers off the project. I just wanna make sure everything’s cool with the payment or if there are any issues. But then it gets like more aggressive, uh, as that time goes on to where it’s like, okay, cool.

Brad: (24:18)

When that money hits our bank account, then I will release the content. And I phrase it that way because it’s like I don’t care when you pay the bill, if you pay it before a holiday weekend and it takes four days to transfer into my account, I’m not going to give you the link, I’m not going to send over the content that you, so like I’m really going to assert some small, very small level of control because at the end of the day you don’t have much. So you kind of have to like be tough in certain circumstances

Daniel: (24:46)

And that makes them value it more. I mean that’s the thing. You’re really asserting your value and holding back that value unless they provide their value, which is money, right?

Brad: (24:55)

It should, yeah. And I even had this today. I was just going back and forth with a client and their payable department wanted to bring up this issue, this like extra cost issue, at the end, at the end of the scope as opposed to the beginning when we actually agreed on it. And so I told them in no uncertain terms like if this is what you want us to do, and it’s going to delay a few things on us receiving payment, I will do them, but I’m also going to immediately cancel our agreement and renegotiate new pricing terms going forward. So I kind of drew a line in the sand and said like, if this is how you want to play it, that’s fine. But again, you need to be willing to be hard and say, okay, that’s fine. I’m going to like double your rates then going forward. So if you’re cool with that, then yeah, that’s fine. We’ll continue under this like guise but otherwise don’t, don’t push me around when it comes to like actually getting money that again pays like with most freelancers that pays for the food on my table, pays my car bill, pays my house, my electricity, like don’t, don’t screw me around when it comes to like that kind of payment.

Daniel: (26:00)

Yeah, absolutely. So, um, that’s so valuable. Thank you. It’s tons of stuff to think about there. So in terms of, we did talk about this a little bit in specialization, but you know, very often you get those people who we were talking earlier about, you know, like prices per word or whatever it is. If you are competing against, you know, the content farms or the low-cost writers on different, you know, sort of Upwork or Fiver or places like that, they can be that push back as well as like, well, I can pay Upwork at the end of the month or, you know, I can, you know, get that for cheaper or whatever. I know you talked about it before, but would you mind just sort of reiterating a little bit of that in this episode as well?

Brad: (26:36)

Yeah, for sure. So a weird thing happens in that if you’re using job boards initially as an example to get work, get paid work, it works really well initially. Once you start raising your rates and doing all the other stuff, your success becomes a lot less over time. So you will start to naturally hit a glass ceiling in terms of, 100 people will apply to a job board. Their average rates are going to look like whatever, 50 bucks an article, you’re going to come in with $100 an article and people are going to start skipping over you and just hire the other people. And so that’s where your time and effort needs to start changing in terms of how you get work. So you raise your rates, hopefully, a lot. You still continue to raise them. What you need to do at the same time, you start building your own brand.

Brad: (27:29)

The good thing about writing is you can get a lot of inbound requests. So people see you write for other big white websites and that helps bring in money. The best way you could do this is if you do, if you combine lead gen, this kind of lead gen approach, inbound requests with, at least getting your time paid for. So you go to a big website, they’re saying, Hey, we’re only, we’re only, my rates are now 100 bucks an article. Uh, this big website’s only gonna pay 50 bucks an article. But just getting on their site puts me in front of like 10,000 people in my space a month so I could potentially get some other work out of it. So that’s, that’s one of those key strategic cases where it’s like, I’m okay taking a little discount here because it’s going to help me get hopefully three other clients in the course of a year who see my work there and then come to my website and ask me for work.

Brad: (28:17)

So your positioning in terms of like how you actually start to get work beyond that, starts to change a little bit. If you specialize, you start appearing on multiple websites in the same space. That also helps increase the amount of inbound work that you should start to get. Inbound work, people coming to you asking you for work generally translates into a much better conversation for pricing and positioning and expertise. So it immediately, when you’re on a job board, it’s commodity and transactional and you kind of have to play the game, but your bargaining power is little to nothing versus if someone seeks you out and asks you specifically, that’s where you have a lot more bargaining power in getting bigger rates.

Daniel: (29:00)

Yeah. That’s great. Yeah, that’s a really good insight. And it takes time. It just takes time. And I love what you said, that, you know, the higher your rates go, the less success you have. That’s- keep that in mind. That’s, you know, not everyone’s going to. Yeah. Really, really good insight and for sure as you’re building your own business. So. Very cool. Well, the last question I really had was around, you know, if you had any final advice or suggestions in terms of becoming a paid writer, whether it’s mindset or it’s actions to take or anything like that. And I know you have a little course that I’ll give a plug to as well that you’ve got on the website there.

Brad: (29:35)

Yeah so if you just go to codeless.io. There’s a little free email course. I want to say it’s seven days, one little lesson a day. Some of this overlapping, some of the stuff we’ve just talked about in the last couple of episodes, some of it new stuff that goes into more detail. There’s no like paid course or mastermind or anything like that at the very end of it. Like it’s literally just a little seven-day sequence to help people again, think about approach writing from more of maybe a business angle, and change their kind of like perspective on it a little bit to help them see a fairly clear path to raising rates and kind of improving their life overall really in like just a few months. It’s not difficult, but it’s not easy. It’s one of those things. It’s like running a marathon is very simple in theory.

Brad: (30:29)

You just go out and run every day for like three months and then you just go a little longer over time. You just run a little longer, run a little longer, get a little fitter. It comes a little easier. It’s hard to do in practice cause it is consistency. It’s all those other things. But in theory on paper, it’s very easy to do this. Very easy to get more clients, make more money. All these things are just a matter of putting all these different pieces together. So hopefully that little free course should help with that. As I mentioned, there’s no like, hard sell at the very end of that. So it’s just kind of a little standalone thing for now.

Daniel: (31:01)

Very cool. Well yeah, check that out. That’s, that’s on the codeless.io. And a final question for you. Did you have any early, whether it was, you know, books you read or early writers that you followed who kind of changed your mindset as to become more of a business-oriented, you know, paid writer, anyone that, any books that you read earlier?

Brad: (31:21)

That’s a good question. Um, the War of Art by Steven Pressfield is a good one. And then he has subsequent followups to that that are all escaping me right now. I think there’s like one or two other ones. That one came out maybe 20 years ago or something. Yeah, that one’s really good. I also started getting into a lot of copywriting. So there are other copywriting books out there and then there’s a great site called copyhackers.com. A lot of those types of resources are interesting when you start viewing copywriting is like sales in print form. And so I think that also changes your perspective a little bit, especially if you work with a lot of businesses where the mindset goes from, like, I don’t know, fiction writing or non-fiction writing where you’re trying to be clever or you’re thinking about characters and plot and all these are very awesome but different things to copywriting, which is very like laser-focused on like, I need to sell this person’s widget and how do you do that?

Brad: (32:15)

And so getting into copywriting type resources, copy hackers. Dan Kennedy was like one of the old school info-marketing guru people. But his copywriting stuff is all legit. Uh, Joe Sugarman maybe is another one and that’s right. I would recommend copywriting stuff in general cause it starts to help you understand what, why clients buy writing. Like why do business clients buy writing? It’s to sell stuff. It’s not to impress people, unfortunately. So I think that helps with the mindset anyway.

Daniel: (32:48)

Yeah. And that’s a great thing to finish on thinking about why your clients buy your writing. That’s a great way to frame it. Yeah. Because you’re not, you’re not just running for fun, you’re running to create something they want to buy. It’s a product.

Brad: (33:00)

Yup. For sure. And copywriting is all about that. So just understanding the copywriting mindset, uh, I think will help you become a better freelance writer even if you’re not using a lot of those same principles. It helps you just understand why, why everyone’s doing it at the end of the day.

Daniel: (33:17)

Yeah. Very cool. Well, thank you so much, Brad. I appreciate the time and amazing insights, you know, learning from one of the best out there that I’ve learned from myself and I’ve gained a lot of value just even listening and talking with you today, but also over the years knowing you. So thank you for being on the podcast today, and I look forward to interviewing you, hopefully, again in the future at some stage.

Brad: (33:35)

Yeah, likewise. Thank you so much. I had a lot of fun.

Daniel: (33:37)

Yeah, thanks a lot.

Highlights

Two simple yet effective strategies for ensuring your clients pay on your terms (04:45)

Especially if you’re just starting out, maybe you even bluff a little bit and you say, Hey, actually my pricing is like twice what it used to be but I’ll discount it 10% if you pay me at the beginning of the month. Right? So that’s one super easy strategy that most people could do probably tomorrow.

Or this one works really well with legacy clients: So if you remember you have legacy clients from like six months ago, that might not be getting charged as much. You go to them and if you still feel bad about raising rates on them, you can say, Hey, all my new clients are paying this now. How about this? I won’t raise rates on you for another six months, but you have to pay me at the beginning of the month now instead of at the end of the month. So those are super simple things I would highly recommend doing.

Avoid this mistake that puts you in a powerless position with clients. Try this tactic that Brad utilizes instead. (15:37)

If you give them the content and you don’t get paid, you have zero recourse. Like you have zero ability to go back to them and complain or say anything to get the leverage back. So a lot of times with clients, if they don’t when it starts getting to the middle or end of the month and a client hasn’t paid, we will email them and say, Hey, we have like your articles are ready for review. Um, we’ll go ahead and send those over when you pay your bill. Right? So we hold back like the actual deliverable until we see the money come in.

There are pros and cons to each payment approach. Figure out what is most important for your lifestyle.  (19:47)

We have one contract writer making over $10,000 a month. And so they’re trading steady work for a couple of weeks of payment delay, if that makes sense. Because just based on the business, there are pros and cons to each approach.So there are  just different factors here. Payment upfront is always the best if you can push it. If you can’t push it, what do you get in return? Do you get a stable amount of work? Do you get better rates or higher margins? There should be kind of a give and take in terms of not just your pricing and rates but also how you actually collect your money and, you know, fund your lifestyle.