This year I’ve lost a relatively large number of pitches or quotes or whatever you want to call them, because there is always somebody who is willing to work for less money. Yes there is a global crisis, I know, but still. Even when I compete on my speciality, purchase managers are convinced they can get the same quality for a lower price. I am not arrogant in thinking that what I do is above average, but sometimes I start to doubt myself. How can I convince a Dutch customer that I’m truly bilingual, when his or her English is poor? How can I explain that an hourly rate of 85 euro is not ridiculous when there are websites paying women 15 euro for “unique content” (i.e. 700-word blog entries)? The solution It’s so frustrating to have to promote yourself over and over again on the basics, when you’ve been doing your job for over a decade. I know it’s part of being independent and I feel stressed from moving house in the next couple of weeks, but there is a solution. Instead of having freelancers spend hours preparing for a pitch they have no chance of winning because the budget is set, why not say: “This is our budget or this is what we are willing to pay, what can you do for us?” It saves everybody so much time and hassle. Yes, it requires honesty from both parties, but hey, why not? Oddly, this is what the 15 euro websites are doing: this is what we pay, come and get it – or not. So why not do this with professional content? I realize it won’t save time if you have a professional budget and are looking for a writer in a cheap marketplace, but could it be a useful way of screening suppliers the first time you put out a request? What do you really need? What are you willing to pay? What really counts when you are looking for a writer? What do you need: Is it social skills? Crazy interview questions? Ability to meet deadlines? Deliver the exact amount of words requested? Be funny? Be fluent in management-speak? Or just the ability to put words in any order within budget? Perhaps we as writers can help save time and energy by first asking if purchasing policy is the determining factor in selecting partners or better yet, what it is they are really looking for.