Why Is Cheap Actually Expensive?

MoneyCheap is a loaded term. It can imply a bargain with regard to cost (I only paid $300 for this Louis Vuitton bag!) or it can imply poor quality or value (It fell apart the first time I used it).

In our business, whether our services are considered cheap or expensive depends on the perceived value. In general clients want to hire writers with rates that fit into the project budget. Oh, who are we trying to kid? Clients often try to hire the writer who offers the lowest rate. But the lowest-rate writer usually isn’t the most talented. And if the deliverable ends up being poor quality, the client is forced to hire another writer—or allocate internal resources—to fix it. In the long run, cheap became expensive.

Now consider the client who hires the writer who charges the highest rate, but who turns in a polished deliverable exactly to specs and on time and on budget. The project gets done right the first time. From a value perspective, the client received great value for the cost. In this case, expensive was actually a bargain!

So the question for freelances becomes, do you want clients to perceive you as cheap or valuable? The choice is yours. Stop and think about the harm you may be doing to your business if you constantly underprice your value by offering low rates. Similarly, think about how you run your business. Do you avoid spending money on marketing tools, continuing education, or resources that will help you do your job better? Operating on the cheap becomes expensive in terms of the opportunities you lose and the revenue you sacrifice when you don’t keep your skills up to date or market your business professionally.