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Are mates’ rates a good idea?

A close friend of mine is our family dentist. I choose her because I believe she is excellent at her job – and pure magic with my kids. (My kids actually get excited about a trip to the dentist.)

After our appointments, the receptionist hands me a standard account which I dutifully pay. No questions asked. I don’t expect it to work any other way.

So why do I struggle when it comes to charging my friends full rates for my copywriting services?

Over time, I have had more and more friends ask me to write for their businesses. And although I was always eager to help, I couldn’t help feeling awkward when it came time to talk money.

Will they think my fees are unreasonable?
What if they don’t like my work?
As a close friend, don’t I genuinely want to help their businesses anyway?

So I use to offer discounted rates. (And shamefully, one or two ‘freebies’.) Not because my friends asked for or expected this. But because I thought I should.

It was a mistake.

While I don’t believe my work was compromised, I do believe it affected my mindset. The tasks would become a hassle – something I had to get done so I could move onto my real work. For my real clients.

Recently, a friend asked me to rewrite some web-pages for his legal practice. But he specifically asked for an ‘arm’s length quote’. No discounts.

Why? Because he knows from experience – in his case, providing discounted legal services for friends for far too long – that it could affect my mindset.

I provided a quote and he agreed to my fee, saying he was sure he would get value.

That got me thinking about those questions again:

Will my friends think my fees are unreasonable?

Maybe they will. Maybe they won’t. But presumptions are a waste of time. And guess what? Since abandoning my mates’ rates philosophy, my fees have never been questioned. Not once.

What if they don’t like my work?

For the same reason I chose my dentist, my friends come to me because they believe I am good at what I do. And I believe it too. So the risk of failing to deliver is the same as for my other clients.

As a close friend, don’t I genuinely want to help their businesses anyway?

I do want to help my friends. I genuinely want to see their businesses succeed. But then again, I want to see all my clients succeed – friends or otherwise. That doesn’t mean my time and expertise isn’t worth paying for.

So it’s official. Full fees from now on.

And thankfully, no more agonising or self-doubt. My time is valuable regardless of who I give it to. My friends respect that.

Do you charge mates’ rates for your services? How do you expect to be charged when you seek a service from a friend?

Please post a comment to share your views and experiences.