Be careful when negotiating with clients who want to set rates “based on experience.”
It may sound logical and fair, that your experience would determine your pay, but there are different types of experience and all of it isn’t equally important.
Analyzing Rates Based On Experience
The first thing you need to know is what type of experience are they basing the decision upon.
There’s subject matter experience, which involves your history with a topic or niche.
There’s skill-based experience, which refers to your ability to perform certain tasks, such as SEO optimization or formatting content in WordPress.
And there’s work experience, meaning how long you’ve been a writer, photojournalist, etc.
Some types of inexperience may warrant lower rates. If you lack work experience, clients may assume that they’ll have to help you hone your craft. More time may be required for revisions and editing, and your work may not be as thorough as content created by a more seasoned professional.
In some cases, entry-level pay is appropriate for entry-level service providers.
But that’s not always the case.
Say you apply for a news writing job and you’ve spent years working on a college newspaper. Granted, that may not technically qualify as professional experience, but it may have provided the necessary experience.
In this case, could be more of an asset than a seasoned professional since you may have ample experience with the latest standards, software and media.
Apply that same line of thinking when addressing subject matter experience or skill-based experience.
If you were a sports writer and you’re transitioning to beauty, a client has every reason to believe there’s a major knowledge gap. And due to your limited experience with the niche, that client may feel justified paying you less than someone with an extensive background, industry exposure and contacts.
Likewise, if you’re applying for a digital media position that requires Photoshop skills but you don’t know how to use the software, the client has a good reason to want to pay you less.
Your lack of experience is going to slow down the pipeline. Until you learn, there will be edits and effects you can’t do, meaning those jobs will need to be handled by someone else.
Don’t Take An Unnecessary Pay Cut
A lot of clients request trivial skills, such as experience using Slack. You should not be taking a pay cut on your writing jobs because you aren’t familiar with an instant messaging app.
When prospective clients say mention rates based on experience, let them tell you which type of experience they’re making their decision based upon. Don’t assume.
Once you know, consider whether you’re actually inexperienced or not. If you are, consider how much impact your lack of experience will have on your work, and negotiate accordingly.