It's a touchy topic. People want the Rolls-Royce of quality, but have only a VW budget. I'm always confused about why people think they should pay more for a quality car, but not quality writing or design. You get what you pay for. I usually go above and beyond on what I deliver for what I charge, but I've stopped doing that. Why? Because people take advantage of me, or take it for granted, don't appreciate the sacrifice, and worst of all - they scope creep. They add to a project without paying extra for the extra work. They love the 10-page ebook so much, for instance, they want to make it 50 pages. But they don't want to pay the extra for the additional 40-pages. Since I'm "already" doing the 10-pager, how much time could it actually require to do an additional 40 pages? Surprise. About 10-20 hours, even if you do the content. I have a good client who recently asked for more pages and paid the extra. Clients like that are hard to find. It makes me want to help him more.
I know you're just starting out and you have a tight budget. I appreciate that. Most, if not all my clients are in the same boat. While I'll do my best to help you out, even sacrificing my own income and time if I think you have an awesome business and a lot of potential, the fact is, I have bills to pay too. And, not everyone has learned the magic of reciprocation. If I do a lot of very good, but very discounted work for you in hopes of your passing along more work when you've made some sales, I'll be very upset if I learn you've given that $5,000 White Paper job to someone else after promising it to me. My copy got you the work and business that generated the income to afford the white paper, and on a whim you've thrown it someone else's way?
Loyalty. It's not what it used to be.
Before saying, "I can't afford it," ask yourself, "Can I really NOT afford it, or do I just not want to let go of that much money right now?" When I was first starting out a client begged me to help him re: price. He "just didn't have the money," he said. I agreed to do a much lower rate, worked my butt off on the job, and he was thrilled with it. I made NOTHING on the job, but thought I had won a client for life. He pays me the $300 or whatever, then disappears. I hear from him a month later, after he got back from a $10,000 fishing vacation in Alaska. $10,000. He told me he didn't "have" $1,000 to pay me. What he meant was he didn't want to SPEND the money on his new business logo and launch. He wanted to go fishing more. Your budget is NOT about how much money you have to spend. It's how much you are WILLING to spend. What are your priorities?
There's a difference between having the money and not wanting to spend it, and just not having the money. Ask yourself what your priorities are. Decide how much you're willing to spend and how much you have to spend before finding a provider. I'm willing to work with clients who write their own copy then pay me to clean it up. It saves me time and them money. But I can only do this with clients who are honest with me, willing to talk about their budget, and what they want to do.
If you really don't have the money, consider negotiating on time. I have a few clients whose jobs I can work on in between larger projects. That means I'm willing to cut you a break on cost if you're willing to wait longer for your project. I can't afford to spend a week (20-40 hours) on a project that pays half my rate if it means I'll miss out on a project at my full rate. I will work on your project until a full-rate project comes in. Then I'll set your project aside to do the bigger project. You get the price break in exchange for agreeing to wait longer. If you want your project done NOW, then pay the full rate. It's simple. You may luck out and I don't have a big project, but you get your project done fast, and with quality. If I have a full-paying client come in however, you'll still get the quality, but not the speed. If you need it done fast and cheap, then find someone else. But remember the unattainable triad - Fast, Cheap, Good. You can have anyone of those two things, but never all three. If it's Fast and Good, it won't be Cheap. If it's Fast and Cheap it won't be Good. You get the picture, right? Pick the two that matter most.
I would guess that about 1/3 of my clients send me a bonus. Some pay 10% of the cost of the project, others pay a flat rate of $50 to $500 or more. Once we've finished the project they realize how valuable the work is, and how hard I've worked to make it happen. And they respect that and show me they appreciate it. Others? Others wonder why they don't get a $5,000 job for $50. If you have a creative, or vendor who overdelivers and goes all out to ensure your project succeeds, let them know you appreciate them. Clients send me flowers, or fruit baskets (Harry&David - which I love), or thank you cards, gift cards etc. The thought (A $50 gift card to Applebee's, or a $25 Starbucks Card) is huge. It says you appreciate me.
Consistency Matters More Than Talent
You don't have to be talented to succeed. You do need to be consistent.