Cost and value

cost and value

“Eek! Why does it cost so much?”

People who shop for any service—plumbing, babysitting, landscaping, auto repair—are typically willing to pay for that service because:

  1. They don’t have time to do it themselves, or
  2. They are unable to do it themselves, or
  3. They are unable to do it as well as someone else.

The same is true of writing and editing. You want to weigh the cost and value.

What’s unique about selling writing services though, is that almost everybody is able to write—we learned it in grade school! But not everyone writes well, and not everyone knows the difference between good writing and adequate writing. Even fewer understand that good writing is good business—a worthwhile investment that can reap measurable returns.

Buying time

People who don’t have time to write their own websites or design their own business cards or proofread their own autobiography typically do not react with an “Eek!” when they peruse my pricing information. For one thing, such people understand the value of their own time. They don’t want to spend hours learning HTML or looking up words in the dictionary. They have lives to lead and businesses to run! To them, it’s worthwhile to hire this job out.

Buying skill

Often these same people recognize that wordsmithing is a skill they don’t have. They know they are lousy spellers, or unsure of when to use an apostrophe, or prone to sentences that ramble on and on in the passive voice. Or maybe they are good writers, but they have no idea how to turn their Word document into a printed paperback or an effective brochure. The skills involved are ones they could learn (if they had the time), but they prefer to hire someone who already is more proficient.

Buying quality

Most often, people who have price objections already have some level of skill in the area of writing or editing, but they don’t realize the difference between quality writing and adequate writing. It’s the difference between “good” and “good enough.”

The person who first asked me “Why does it cost so much?” was a would-be author who had received some positive feedback from friends and family about the family history he had written. When I suggested his document would benefit from some basic grammar clean-up and consistently applied styles, he was alarmed at the price I quoted. In the end, he decided his story was good enough without my services.

And I agree. It is not very likely that many people outside of his own family will be interested in a lengthy family history. If they are enjoying the book in its current condition, then it certainly is good enough. You have to know what’s important to you. A Mercedes-Benz and a Toyota will both get you from here to there. For some drivers, the Toyota is good enough; others are willing to invest in the Mercedes.

Like George. Even though he knew his books were not likely to be read by many people outside his family, George wanted to spend the money to make sure they were done well. He was creating an heirloom, something of enduring quality that will last for generations. His children and grandchildren might not thank George for making sure all the commas are in the right places, but I like to think that on some level they will appreciate the quality of the work.


When you hire LifeLines, you are actually getting Mercedes-Benz writing at Toyota prices. (Or maybe Honda prices.) My work is solid, fast, and competitively priced. In fact, I often spend more time on a project than what I’ve included in my quote because I want to be sure it meets your standards. I will not get rich from this work, but I will enjoy the satisfaction of knowing I’m making the world a better place.

If you agree, I hope you’ll hire me! And if you’re not quite ready to hire me now, I hope you’ll subscribe to this blog and share it with others.



2 thoughts on “Cost and value”

  1. My freelance hero Peter Bowerman made some excellent points on this topic in his blog about clients with money and clients without:…/

    My favorite quote from that blog? “For the kinds of clients we want to work with, money is never (within reason) the main issue. Rather, it’s a predictable superior outcome they’re seeking. And that motivation always trumps money.”

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