Your fee is part of how you advertise yourself

There are many online services now where you can hire writers and they all have several things in common. Without fail, the writers are charging practically no money at all or sometimes literally no money at all. This is because everybody thinks they can write and part of their stupidity is that they conclude that the way to get writing jobs is to be cheaper than anyone else.

Cue a race to the bottom as every amateur undercuts every other amateur and the professionals are left being told they’re too expensive.

Now, I’d be okay with this and I might even enjoy the karma that the quality and effectiveness and sometimes actual comprehensibility of the writing you get for free is exactly as bad as you’d imagine.

Unfortunately, companies who are stupid enough to hire writers who charge no money will tend to conclude that writers are crap. You can mock them for this but it won’t change their minds. They’ve gone to a writer, the writer is crap, all writers are crap.

It bothers me that this is what they conclude and I am only a little bit mollified by the fact that they’re going out of business on Tuesday.

There is a word for companies like this and it’s the same word for amateur writers: “goodbye”.

But in this race for the bottom you can unconsciously believe that you have to lower your prices to get any chance of a look in. Often, it’s true. That destroys or at least dents my argument a bit but then this undoes the dent, this repairs it and gives it all a polish: an app developer raised his price as an April Fools’ joke and it worked.

San Francisco-based developer Giacomo Balli doubled his take on his iPhone apps thanks to an April Fools’ Day joke. When he ratcheted up the price to an eye-popping $4.99 for an app that catalogs books, he got downloads instead of complaints.

The App Store lets devs change the sale price of their apps pretty much any time they like, but most folks take conventional routes: cutting prices during sales or dropping prices to free. Balli made his previously free apps premium with just a toggle.

“There weren’t any app updates, either,” he told Cult of Mac over the phone. “Just the price.”

How a dev doubled his revenue with an April Fools’ joke – Rob LeFebrve, Cult of Mac (22 August 2014)

The full piece has some thoughts about how this worked and how it had something to do with the specific target market for this app.

But the thing to take away for me is that your price is part of your advert for yourself. If you say you are worth something, you’re worth it.

There’s more to negotiation than money

If you’ve got a meeting with someone, they want to work with you. Or at least they want to want to work with you. Make the most of that meeting, get what you can and remember that the ideal is that you will be working with these people so let’s leave everyone happy. And at some point money is going to come into it but money is not all.

It’s a lot. Let’s not be daft.


Have more items than they have. Let’s say you are negotiating a book advance. They offer a $10,000 advance and they can’t budge higher.

That’s fine. Now make your list of other things: how much social media marketing will they do, what bookstores will they get you into, who has control over book design, what percentage of foreign rights, of digital rights, you can get. Do royalties go up after a certain number of copies are sold, will they pay for better book placement in key stores, will they hire a publicist? And so on.

Before every negotiation. Make a list. Make the list as long as possible. If your list is bigger than theirs (size matters) then you can give up “the nickels for the dimes”.

This is not just about negotiation. This is to make sure that later you are not disappointed because there is something you forgot. Always prepare. Then you can have faith that because you prepared well, the outcome will also go well.

The Ultimate Cheat Sheet to Become a Great Negotiator – The Altucher Confidential



Be smarter: don’t apply for jobs when they’re advertised

It can’t always be a good idea, but when it’s right, this could work well for you:

Introduce Yourself When They Aren’t Looking

What if you saw an ad for a job where you knew there was a fair amount of turnover. To add to this, let’s assume you are not desperate and unemployed. Wouldn’t it make sense, then, to allow the ad to run its course and send a letter a few weeks later to make it appear your interest in the company was genuine and not an opportunistic spur of the moment decision made because there was an enticing ad that sparked your interest? The point here is to get yourself noticed when they aren’t looking — and when there aren’t a hundred other candidates seeking their attention all at once.

8 Ways to Get Noticed During a Job Search – Wisebread (2 May 2014)

The other seven ways are pretty good too: read the full list. (And a nod of the hat brim to Lifehacker for spotting this.)

But then when you’ve got a raise…

You’ve negotiated for a raise, you’ve got some extra cash, all is well and right or at least better with the world. And then it goes wrong:

It seems like common sense: a larger reward encourages a greater effort. So if you need to inspire a person or team to strive harder, an obvious tactic is to offer more money. Reality, however, is not that simple.

Even the mere mention of money can be enough to change our mindset: It has the power to make us more selfish and competitive, while also putting some useful social contracts on hold. Meanwhile, large financial rewards transfer challenges that would have been pursued for passion or creativity’s sake into emotionless financial exchanges.

The Unpredictable Consequences of Using Money as an Incentive – 99U

Recently I’ve seen several times when an article has been published under one title and then changed – but either they forget to change the web address or their system won’t let them. Here’s the address in full for that article:

So the original headline was How Money Makes Us Lazy and I think that’s a better one.

The rest of the piece goes into specifics and is interesting.

Get a raise

Here’s some smart advice from Time magazine about how to negotiate getting more money at work. But first, its opening lines made me laugh:

A new survey finds that what makes us satisfied at work isn’t what’s in our hearts; it’s what’s in our wallets. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, 60% of American workers surveyed last year said pay/compensation was “very important” to them, making it the top-ranked priority.

Some things do not need surveys.

But the rest of the article is very good about whether you actually deserve a raise and only then how you ask for one. Plus it covers exactly what you’ve just thought about: what happens when you then don’t get it. Have a read of the full piece while I go talk to my boss about paying me more.

UPDATE: I am my own boss and he says no.