I used to try to second-guess what a client will pay, and because I’m quite careful with my own money, I ended up projecting my own view onto my clients and assumed that they wouldn’t want to spend significant sums of money on editing.
The reality is that most of the time we have no idea what a client can afford – some people have expensive lifestyles with huge amounts of debt, others live frugally but have money in the bank. And regardless of income or budget, some people will spend money on things they think are important whereas others will always look for the cheapest option. We just can’t know each client’s financial circumstances and priorities. And yet, commonly, I hear editors (and other business owners) say things like ‘no-one will ever pay that much’.
The other thing I have learned is that I have to put myself first. I need to earn money to look after myself and my family. I also need to know how much I must earn to do those things. It is not in my best interests to reduce a quote because I feel ‘bad’ that the client might not be able to afford it. Better to offer the quote and, if it is rejected, look for other work.
It sounds simple but is far from easy. However, I think it is up to us, as business owners, to take charge of our pricing, rather than being led by what we believe people can afford. There are millions of potential clients out there. Editors who work on month-long projects only need a dozen or so clients per year. Surely there are at least a dozen people in the world who can afford your prices, whatever they might be?