Should I List Fees on My Website?

At this moment, you either have your fees on your website or you don’t. If you don’t, it’s probably because you follow the line of reasoning I’ve always used: If I tell people what I charge, or even give them a range, they might see it – balk – and walk away. ‘Course, the flip side is you meet with them, talk on the phone, email back and forth, educate them and get all those questions you need answered first and then give them your project fee. Their typical reaction?

Sticker shock.

How is that any different than if  they’d seen your fees on your website?

Keep it Real

That’s why I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s time to get my fees out in the open. Besides, if I was talking to someone in person and they said, “So what do you charge to ghostwrite a book?” I’d say, “It depends on the size of the project, the expected turn-a-round time, how much research is necessary, how available the client is, whether or not they’ve written any portion of the book, etc. When all that is said and done, I charge between $20,000 and $45,000”.

So that’s it then. The end of my post.

Not so fast.

Just because I decided to put my fees on the site, doesn’t mean I’ve decided how I want to put them there.

How do others ghosts handle fees on their websites? As a whole, not very well.

No name. No face.

Pick a state. Google that state with the words, “ghostwriter” and almost every company link on page one is a collective  of ghostwriters of some sort.  One site, California-based, The Author’s Team, handles it like so:

“Our prices vary widely depending on the parameters of your project and the qualifications of the writer you hire. In general, however, you can expect to pay somewhere between $30-$45,000 for a complete manuscript. A few of our best writers, who have created New York Times bestsellers or worked for prestigious publications like The Wall Street Journal, cost $30,000 – $50,000.”

You’ll find price qualifications like this on the vast majority of ghostwriting collective websites. (By ‘collective’ I mean a company that employs more than one ghostwriter). What you don’t find on most of these sites is the one thing I want to see when someone quotes ghostwriting  in that range:  names, faces, bios. In a word: evidence. The Author’s Team has  a short, one sentence bio for each of the three names in their collective.  If you want more evidence, you have to fish on the Internet for info about them because it’s not on their website.

On the other hand, whoever wrote the copy for the site sure sounds like he/she knows what they’re doing.

And So?

After years of resisting, I was finally going to put my prices on my website. I just needed to know how I was going to go about it. But darned it all,  I’m already having second thoughts. I’m fairly convinced there’s not a clear do it/don’t do it  choice when it comes to putting  fees on a ghostwriter’s website.

Tennis Anyone?

Their are pro’s and con’s to either option. It’s crazy how many ways there are to look at this dilemma.

On-line:  Post your fees between say, $20,000 to $40,000 and some people may never contact you because you’re out of their range.  That’s good because you’d filter out the curious, but broke and the ready-to-go, but expecting to pay Craigslist prices. Bad, because there are half a dozen reasons you’d make an exception.

Off-line: Don’t post your fees and you can pretty much guarantee x% of your time meeting, talking, emailing potential clients is meeting, talking, emailing people who’ve not done their homework before they approached you. On the other hand, not posting fees is what companies with high-end products do, right? It’s not like Mercedes of Tiffany list their highest price range online. Why? ’cause people know the range is going to be high. They also know they’re getting the best available, so the price is (maybe) justified. Okay, it’s not a perfect analogy, but you get the point.

And now I get the point

That prior paragraph was written based on what I knew. Rather, what I thought I knew. Check out those links and you’ll see what I didn’t: all their prices are online. Fancy that. I wonder where I picked up the idea that the best things in life shouldn’t come with price tags online?

Shows you how much  I know about good website marketing.

Very little.

Shows you how much I know about how to market myself as a ghostwriter on my website.

Very little.

What I do know – very well – is how to ghostwrite a good book. I’m also very good with people – in person, on the phone, in back and forth emails. How long have I had my website now? Almost ten years. How many of clients  found me online? None. Twitter clients? Uh-uh. Facebook converts? Nope. Where’d they all come from? Personal recommendations, friends, people I pitched, people who met me in person. Sure, they all visit my site at some point, but that’s because it’s got support material.

Why am I online at all?

My online presence is support material for my professional behavior, my portfolio, and evidence that I’m dialed in and in touch with technology and today’s media outlets. Not just in touch, but comfortable and familiar with them. The Internet used to be just a tool. You used it as a tool. It helped you. In today’s world, if you don’t have a presence on the Internet, you’re either out of touch or independently wealthy.

And while I’m sure there’s a great ending line to that set up in my last sentence, I’m really more eager to wrap up this question of fees or no-fees and get back to my off-line life.

“If you decide not to choose, you still have made a choice”.

I’m sticking with no prices for now. I want to redo my site anyway. I’m thinking of going totally off-line with my new website. I’ll throw down a questionnaire that sifts out the truly-interested, money in hand, well researched, solid platform, good to go, potential clients from the rest. The kind of client I can write for and increase their potential. One click to ‘submit’ and I’ll send them a hard copy or an email PDF of all the stuff that would otherwise be online.

Hmmm. Should I list my fees in my off-line package?



[Image: Horia Varlan]