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Quick Tip: Stop charging by the hour!

Whatever you think about AI, it’s fast. And cheap. 

ChatGPT-4 can write a blog post faster than you can dictate the words.

And it can revise and rewrite just as fast. For pennies. With no complaints.

So if you’re a writer or agency still charging clients by the hour, you can’t compete with your old-fashioned business model in the AI era.

Why should anyone pay you $50 or $100 an hour when they can pay AI 10 cents an hour?

Sure, you deliver much better content than AI.

But are you really 500 times better?

Three reasons not to charge by the hour

Hand putting card in time clock

1. You put all the risk on your client

And they know it.

How can you claim to be looking out for their best interests when you’re clearly looking out more for yourself?

2. You can’t increase your income

Charging by the hour freezes your income, almost like having a full-time job. Here’s why.

Most contractors bill about 25 hours a week. You may bill a little more. And that means…

25 (or however many) hours X your hourly rate = your weekly pay

Yes, you can earn more by working longer hours, evenings, and weekends. What joy!

The only other way to earn more is to raise your hourly rate.

Good luck doing that in the AI era.

3. You get no reward for getting faster

As you gain experience, you will get faster.

But when you charge by the hour, you have no incentive to work faster or smarter.

If you do, you’re delivering more to your clients without getting paid more.

Is that fair to you?

piles of coins, hourglass and red arrow pointing down

So you’re stuck

Stuck with resentful clients. Stuck with fixed income.

And worst of all, stuck competing with AI.

Clients can do the math. They’re not stupid. But your hourly rates will look pretty stupid to them.

So please, stop charging just for putting in time.

Start charging by the value of the projects you complete.

Ten years ago, writing an average white paper cost $4,200.

Today, a human-written white paper with reliable sources, good storytelling, and an emotive connection with readers is worth a lot more than that.

But to earn that higher fee, you have to do things that AI can’t.

And get away from the hourly billing, so clients won’t start comparing you to AI.


Thanks to Paul Roetzer from the Marketing AI Institute for updating this timeless wisdom for the AI era. 

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About Gordon Graham

Worked on 320+ white papers for clients from Silicon Valley to Switzerland, on everything from choosing enterprise software to designing virtual worlds for kids, for clients from tiny startups to 3M, Google, and Verizon. Wrote White Papers for Dummies which earned 60+ 5-star ratings on Amazon. Won 16 awards from the Society for Technical Communication. Named AWAI 2019 Copywriter of the Year.

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