What is the value of plain language? Part 2
Don’t expect me to wax philosophic. I am not taking this up as a deep subject. This is practical. We plain language professionals want to be reasonable but we don’t want to be exploited for our naiveté. But some clients are clueless about how much effort goes into plain language. They undervalue our results.
Years ago, a friend did a revision and reduction of a 14-page standard form. She billed $10,000 for 3 month’s work. In the year that followed, the company saved $100,000 in printing costs due to the new form. But when asked to fund the second stage of the project, the company declined. I’d say the value of plain language was 10 times its cost. And they passed.
Let me give you a personal example. Another friend, a lawyer, was asked to comment on a draft plain-language description of procedures in his agency. Members of the public, who would be in distress, were the intended readers. He asked me to do a better rewrite. He would pay me himself and take credit.
I worked on it at an hourly rate and billed him fairly for $1000.
It turned out the agency has a plain language explanation of its new legislation on its website. But the draft procedures used different terminology for the same things. I knew enough from my previous experience to look for that.
The agency was pleased with “his” effort and gave him an honorarium of $250.00. which in no way represented the effort at HIS hourly rate.
I don’t know what we can do to make clients appreciate our value.
I try to inform individual clients what I do for them. I have always included in a proposal an outline of the steps I will need to take. When working on a project, I always provide a work plan and schedule to the client at the start.
What do you suggest?