RE: imperative/continuance/directive (was: Tech Writer screening questions)

Subject: RE: imperative/continuance/directive (was: Tech Writer screening questions)
From: Win Day <winday -at- home -dot- com>
To: John Posada <jposada01 -at- yahoo -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 19 Jun 2000 07:22:09 -0400

At 06:38 AM 18/06/00 -0700, John Posada wrote:

> When an agency calls and proposes a contract, I tell them what my rate

> When a client calls and proposes a contract, I tell them what my rate
> is. Period. I am slightly flexible, depending on the contract and the
> location. But I get the rate I want, or I don't take the contract.
> The rates TO ME are the same. I know that the agency will charge
> clients a

The thought is that if a company is willing to pay a higher rate to an
agency, then you should be able to also charge that higher rate directly
and keep it rather than letting the agency have it. To the client,
they're not paying more than tey would anyway and you're keeping your rate
and the agency's cut.

That may be the thinking, but that's not how it works. At least not in this market.

I'm currently working on a contract through an agency. There are other tech writers here who contract directly to this client. Our hourly rates are not significantly different -- the only difference is that the agency who placed me receives a fee above and beyond what I get.

The client posted the contracts on the local STC board. At least one writer came in that way, but the job posting didn't receive enough response to fill the need (it's a very large short-term project). So agencies were hired to fill the remaining gaps.

I've been in this situation several times before, enough to know that this is not an anomaly.

In my experience, clients use agencies for the convenience. The original posting didn't generate enough response; they don't have the time or the staff to pre-screen candidates; they need to fill this position NOW. They pay for the service.

When they have the time and resources to hire the contractors directly, they are using their own resources to do the work that they otherwise pay an agency for. So the net cost to the client is still more than the contract writer's rate.

The flip side of that is that the agency is doing my marketing for me. If they weren't out finding the contracts, doing the billing, etc. then I would have to do that myself (and I do, sometimes). Any time I spend on those activities cuts into my billable hours.

I do not begrudge agencies their fees. Nor do I see it as money out of my pocket. As long as I get what I think the contract is worth, why should I know or care if the agency receives a fee on top of that amount?

An intermediate-to-senior writer is worth so much an hour in a given market. I get what I want, and what I think I'm worth, and I don't have to market myself, or do the billing. The client gets a good writer without having to go through the trials and tribulations of the contracting process. The agency gets a fee. Everybody's happy.

This is one of those situations where everybody benefits.

Win Day
Technical Writer

mailto:winday -at- wordsplus -dot- net

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