Why Writing Below Your Minimum Rate Can Pay Off Big

There’s another one again.

A prospect wanting content below your minimum rate. It’s the third one this month. What gives? You obviously have a stellar portfolio and are even working with influencers and writing on big platforms.

So, when another prospect contacts you and it looks like a good fit – it’s in your niche – you suddenly become disinterested because the pay is too low – even after negotiating with them.

Why Writing Below Your Minimum Rate Can Pay Off Big

You don’t mind too much, but you do want at least another gig or two to fill up your content calendar, so not landing another gig does hurt a bit, financially.

Maybe you should have taken that low-paying gig. Here’s why.

Lower-Paying Gigs Can Improve Your Business

A lot of my client list have been grandfathered in. This means, the rate I quoted them a year ago, is still the same rate today.

Why am I not raising my rates with most of these clients?

Simple. They provide consistent work to me and have referred clients to me.

These are my top tier clients and I don’t plan on changing my rates since I get more than enough work from them. But, there have been times when I’ve taken on gigs below my minimum rate.


1. If the Gig is in My Wheelhouse

There’s a good chance I’ll take on a lower-paying client if it’s in my wheelhouse. Now, this isn’t all the time, but if it’s super easy for me to write it, then I’ll take it.

For example, Twiniversity – a popular site for moms with multiples – contacted me to write for them.

The gig is writing about twins and parenting. Wh-what? Of course I’ll do it. Why wouldn’t I? The site is well-known, has a huge audience and I can promote my Twins Mommy site. But, the pay is shy of my minimum rate. For this instance, that didn’t matter. Just being on their platform is enough payment for me.

2. If the Gig Provides Consistent Work

Would you rather get an extra $300 every month or $500 on an ad hoc basis? The ad hoc client pays you within your range, but the $300 a month client does not. Yet, you end up getting paid more on a monthly basis if  you go with the lower-paying client – because they are consistent.

Sometimes it’s better to get consistent work at a lower pay than inconsistent work at a higher pay. Knowing that you’ll always get paid is reassuring to a freelance writer, right?

The life of a freelance writer is inconsistent so hold on to those consistent gigs as much as possible.

3. If I Know the Gig Will Lead to More Work

I recently landed a gig on a popular blog. While the pay is good, it’s not within my range – but that’s totally OK because every time my post is published, I always get inquiries for my writing and land more clients.

So, if you know that the lower-paying work will lead to higher-paying work, take it. It’s just another way to grow your income.

Lower-Paying Gigs Can Mean a Break For You


I don’t know about you, but sometimes writing for my high-paying B2B clients takes a lot out of me.

There’s often a ton more research involved, more writing involved, more screenshots, more links, and just more work overall.

So, when I get to write a 500 word blog post on awful digital manners, it’s a treat for me. I can link to YouTube videos and don’t have to use screenshots, for example. It’s easier to write these types of posts and it’s quicker too.

And when my life is already pretty stressful as it is as a work-from-home mom, these lower-paying gigs are often a breath of fresh air for me.

Lower-Paying Gigs Can Help You Break Into a New Niche

As a new freelance writer, you may not know what your niche is. Maybe you have three niches already, but none of them are very lucrative. It’s okay to explore other niches.

But, to do that you might have to start at the bottom of the totem pole so to speak. At one time, I wanted to explore the WordPress niche. I heard there’s a lot of work in this niche and that it can be very profitable.

I was able to land a couple clients in this niche, but I couldn’t command my high rate since I didn’t have any samples to show and I had no credibility as a WordPress writer. So, I lowered my minimum rate.

That helped me secure samples and clients easily. I could then use those portfolio pieces and client testimonials to help me establish myself in the WordPress niche.

Although I never pursued this, a lot of freelance writers follow these same steps to break into a new niche.

Lower-Paying Gigs Can Mean Writing for a New Audience

Can I tell you a little secret?

A lot of highly popular websites either don’t pay for their content or pay very little. Huffington Post, for example, doesn’t pay their contributors.

But, freelance writers and bloggers all around are desperately trying to land a guest spot on HuffPo because they know the benefits outweigh the whole no-pay thing.

Mainly traffic back to their site and new client work. But, there’s also one more benefit to writing for gigs below your minimum rate – you reach a new audience.

The more people that see your post on these big websites, the better chance you’ll have at landing better writing gigs.

Sharon Hurley Hall had this happened to her. She wrote a review and mentioned Buzzsumo. Buzzsumo contacted her and invited her to write for their blog – for free.

Her Buzzsumo post then got picked up by Business2Community and has been shared many times. This post reached a new audience for Sharon and she ended up landing clients from this opportunity.

It’s Totally Worth It

Freelance writing is my main – part-time – gig. I’ve worked with dozens and dozens of clients over the last almost two years of doing this.

I’m in the trenches still, and will continue to work as a freelance writer because I love it and I think it’s a great gig to have if you want to work from home.

So, I’ve learned that not all high-paying gigs are worth it. There are many better lower-paying gigs out there that can really help you grow your business.

Next time a prospect emails you with a lower rate, take a look at their profile. Do they have a popular site? A big audience? A huge social media presence? Are they in your niche? Will it help you land more clients?

If the answer to all of those is yes, then take the gig!

Over to you – how has writing below your minimum rate helped your freelance business?

Hi I'm Elna and I'm a freelance writer and mom blogger. I help people just like you become a profitable freelance writer. Within 6 months of starting my freelance writing business from scratch I was able to earn a full-time living as a part-time freelance writer while taking care of my twin toddlers. Check out my free email course Get Paid to Write Online and learn the steps you need to take to be a freelance writer.

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Hi Elna! This post is just what I needed. I just landed a low paying gig, but it’s relevant and I can churn a steady supply of blogs monthly. I have just one question here. What if maybe after a month or two I want to re-negotiate the pay with the client? Is that at all allowed or feasible? Or is that a big No-No? I’m stumped!Reply to Nida
Hey Nida, I wouldn’t rock the boat so soon. I would only negotiate with a client if the client LOVES your content and LOVES working with you and lets you know that you are their go-writer. Here’s a post that I wrote about this: https://elnacain.com/blog/negotiate-new-rate-current-client/Reply to Elna
Hi Elna, Thanks for this post it’s really good. But I would be happy to get paid for anything at the moment. I have been rather lazy, and life has got in the way, but I am back on track now, and starting to do your course. I would like to ask, what if you have no samples, what do you do? I love to read your posts, but I really should be doing and not reading so much when I start my day. Speak soon, well done another great post which I have shared. Veronica.Reply to Veronica
Hey Veronica, I know what you mean. For newbies taking any gig is fine, but just have a plan to move up! As for samples, it’s very hard to land a gig without some proof that you can write. I suggest you write some sample posts and either house them on your blog or on Medium or LinkedIn’s Pulse. The best, of course, is guest posting, but you can work up to that. This is what I did. I drafted some samples, put them on my site and pitched. Later I started guest posting and pitching.Reply to Elna
This comes up all the time in acting (my other freelance field). The problem isn’t working for low or no pay, it’s working for major international companies who want low-budget advertising. I think if the model is non-exploitative, I’m okay with taking a lower rate — and your reasoning is solid. Faithful long-term clients will always get their starting rate.Reply to Pearl
Hey Pearl, Your niche sounds awesome. I totally agree with your reasoning. You certainly don’t want to take gigs that don’t value your craft.Reply to Elna
Hi Elna, Great points to consider. We do have to look ahead at the big picture. I’ll write for free as long as it is a good site and I can have a link to either my blog or a sales page offering something free. I have had many opt-ins by doing this. The more we can get “out there” the better. So flexibility is key. -DonnaReply to Donna
Hey Donna! Thanks so much for coming to my blog 🙂 Yeah, looking at the big picture is important to help you establish and meet your goals!Reply to Elna
thanks for sharing your thoughts on this! I have a few partners who I work with frequently and are grandfathered in and you’re right – it’s definitely worth it to accept a lower rate to continue working with them. that said, at a certain point, it can become a lot of work to continue at the low rate if you find yourself doing more, your following has exponentially increased, or you’ve incorporated a new medium (like youtube or something) into your plan.Reply to Tianna
Elna, I definitely agree with your logic about accepting some lower-paying jobs as a path toward consistency AND relationship-building. While I’m still working to increase the number of regular clients I have, I’ve found that building relationships can be just as important. One client is also a mentor, and while the pay isn’t quite where I’d like it to be, his expertise in SEO and connections as a website developer have helped me grow my business. He’s just offered me a position as a staff writer and ultimately editor – overseeing a team of writers. How cool is that?!Reply to Debbie
Hey Debbie! That’s great. I’m soo happy to hear such positive stories about taking gigs below your standard rate. The whole building relationships IS key and you’ll find that you’ll grow from the tips and strategies will tell you over time!Reply to Elna
Nice post. I always smile whenever I see your mail. I always go with low paying client if they provide consistent work that if added together will result in a huge amount. I got a bank alert yesterday from one low paying client to create 100 blog post as a ghost writer for his blog. Sometimes, low paying client do make sense when you don’t have a big budget for that month.Reply to Okon
Hey Okon! True. But you have to remember, you don’t want to spend ALL your time writing for lower-paying clients. A hundred blog posts is a lot if you’re only getting paid very little. So be sure to really weigh those benefits of that gig and see it it is worth it.Reply to Elna
My writers are the ones doing the work from low paying client and I only get a cut while I write for the high paying ones. So I get consistent cut from low paying client while getting full pay from high paying ones.Reply to Okon
This is a great post, full of excellent points. I really liked that you mentioned HuffPo, since I’ve been on the fence about it. The traffic flow certainly seems like a benefit, but they have a large enough budget that they should be able to pay their freelance writers. I recently finished up a gig that was less than my usual rate, but it worked out quite well. It resulted in a month of several blog posts, which meant a solid chunk of income. They also referred me to someone else when the project was complete, which resulted in me getting more work. While it may sound like you would be losing money if you take on a less-than-usual gig, you have to look at it from a long-term perspective. This is something you totally nailed in this post.Reply to Alexia
Hey Alexia! That’s great about getting a referral for more work on a lower-paying gig. I find this happens a lot! Yeah, I just landed a contributorship with HuffPo and I’m more than OK with them no paying me a cent. They have a big enough platform that I can just use this opportunity to market my content and business.Reply to Elna
Great post, Elna! It’s easy to get caught up in never going below your minimum rate but there are definitely some advantages to doing this sometimes, especially if it will further your freelance brand.Reply to Sally
Hey Sally, That’s right! I don’t take many clients below my minimum rate, but when I do I make sure there’s some great benefits to helping me grow my business. If you approach those types of gigs like that, then it’s easy to feel good about taking lower-paying gigs!Reply to Elna
Hi Elna I am writing for free right now. Started a website for our local Lions group of which I am also a member. Will be trying to do fundraising for them also. We have adopted a poor school with a wonderful motivator program for kids going through trauma. Hope to get this off the ground soon If I can pull this off, I will be able to do writing for a price. MaryReply to Mary
Hey Mary! That’s a start right? Everyone has to start somewhere. Guest posting and writing “for free” will help build your portfolio and get you some exposure so that you can start landing some paying clients. Good luck!Reply to Elna
I just took on a new client at a lower rate than I would normally accept, but for these exact reasons. I really clicked with them, the niche is perfect for my background, and it gives me some exposure I don’t currently have. Great points, Elna!Reply to Jessica
Hey Jessica! That’s great. Sometimes you just want a fun and easy going client with easy work. The added bonus is exposure too! I have a couple clients that don’t pay my ideal rate, but I love writing for them and it’s super fun. It’s like a break from all the big and in-depth posts I’m writing 🙂Reply to Elna
Hi Elna, thanks for this. You make some good points. One thing I’d add is that it’s important for the writer to be in control. In other words, if you take a low-paying (or unpaid) gig because you are using it for marketing, it’s a completely different matter from letting someone else dictate the value of your writing services. I was happy about the Buzzsumo opportunity, but I’m even happier with clients who pay well. 🙂Reply to Sharon
Hi Sharon! Thanks for stopping by 🙂 You’re right about being in control. Many new writers have the client dictate everything and they have to remember they are collaborating WITH the client, not FOR the client.Reply to Elna
These are really good points. Sometimes it feels counter-intuitive, but you’ve got to look at the bigger picture. If it will benefit your business in many other ways, it can definitely be worth budging below your minimum.Reply to Jeffrey
Thanks Jeffrey! I know what you mean, it does seem counter-intuitive to take a lower-paying gig, but yeah, you have to look at the bigger picture for sure.Reply to Elna
Yep Elna, I relate. I have set rates for writing speeches, but some clients then want me helping with all sorts of writing on a regular basis, and the more work they give me, the more I try to work in discounts (within reason). Part of this is also because you get to know the client’s voice, which usually means fewer revisions. And there are times when I’ll work for less because it’s for a non-profit that I want to support — a variation on donating. 🙂Reply to Steve