Writers Worth Day – May 15th

by Anne Wayman

I don’t know what I was doing last year when my writing cohort Lori Widmer started Writers Worth Day, but since she’s declaring May 15th this year as the second annual – well obviously I was mentally elsewhere!

The goal, of course, is both to encourage real writers to quit giving away their talents by charging way less than they are worth and to encourage employers to pay writers more. She’s got a whole slew of ideas.

Not surprisingly, the ones I like best have to do with writers discovering their own worth and charging appropriately. It’s obvious from the list that Lori agrees with me.

At the risk of pissing off half the world, it seems to me that, for the most part, men are much better at asking to be well paid than women. Not all men, and not all women. I’m one of the distaff side that now gets paid well for my writing, but it wasn’t always true. And the truth of it is I didn’t get paid well in the past for two reasons:

  1. I didn’t recognize my own skills
  2. I was afraid to ask for more money
I was fortunate to end up editing various publications (for way less money than I was worth) so I saw how poorly even some well known writers wrote.
I’m still not clear on why I was afraid to ask for more money. I suppose it was some weird combination of fear of rejection and a need to please. Anyway, I’m well over it now.
The point is, if you’re a decent writer or even suspect you are, you deserve to be paid as a decent writer, not as someone who dashes off 500 words geared for search engines without ever a thought for the reader. On the other hand, if you’ve been writing 500 word SEO articles for tiny amounts, expand your horizons and start writing query letters to magazines. I’m betting you’ll be delighted to discover you can earn more than a pittance.
I’ll even go so far as to say if, after say six months or a year of sending out several queries a week you’re not able to give up cheap SEO writing maybe you ought to consider another business altogether.
Ah, that’s enough from me at the moment. What do you think?

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Image by Lori Widmer who has given me and others permission to copy it for purposes of promoting Writers Worth Day.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Custom Buttons August 19, 2009 at 5:11 pm

This problem is rampant in most if not all industries, for male and female alike. For those venturing into a market please do some research as to what the industry standard rates are. try to stay close to those rates. Competition is good, but if you severely undercut the industry standard to get your foot in the door, how are you ever going to ask for industry standard or higher pay later when you have experience and be taken seriously?

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admin April 25, 2009 at 9:29 am

Spread the word! We can change this.

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Sue Chehrenegar April 24, 2009 at 7:01 pm

An aspiring write should consider things other than SEO articles and magazine articles. If you have moderate marketing skills, and an ability to write, you can make money by writing web content for a specific business or organization.

Of course, a potential employer needs to see evidence of good writing skills. It pays to do a little bit of low pay writing (or even no pay writing) in order to get your writing out in view of a larger audience.

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Custom Embroidered Patches April 23, 2009 at 4:58 pm

Ditto what Lori said. I cant think of anything else to add. Well done.

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Alan GIlbertson April 23, 2009 at 1:01 pm

I couldn’t agree more. As a double-hatter (graphic design in addition to writing/editing) I’ve been through this in both fields. It changed for me when I realized that there are people and companies out there who have real budgets and know what an investment is.

There are kids out there who’ll “design a logo” for $200, and there are folks who’ll write an article for $10. Their clients will get what they pay for. No matter. There are still plenty of people who need professionally written material, who appreciate the work involved and who understand the economics.

Alan GIlbertson’s last blog post..Why We Design

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Lori April 23, 2009 at 11:39 am

Amen and hear hear! Thanks for the link love and spreading the word, Anne.

The goal is to stop the denegration of our industry and to empower writers to understand their true market value – not that which is thrust upon them (and what many accept blindly).

I agree – women do not always ask for what they are worth. I do a lot of resume work and I can tell you men are not shy about demanding a higher position and wage based on their experiences, whereas women with over 20 years in the same industry are shy about asking for a management role. Like you said, it’s not always the case, but it does seem to be a pattern.

Male or female, we need to start by figuring out what we need to make annually in order to survive and have pocket change. Only after that will we understand why it is we need to stick with our rates. Just as any other tradesperson, we need to charge enough in order to turn a profit. I can’t stress that enough. After seeing a segment this week on CBS about a woman who gets $1 an article and is HAPPY about that, I was even more afraid for our industry. If the media presents that as the norm, how are we ever going to get a decent wage?

Lori’s last blog post..And Yes, We Should All Be Outraged

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