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Your Worth As A Writer

Wisdom about freelance writingBy Lori Widmer

I believe that writers have an intrinsic value to bring to the marketplace. Sadly, not many of us are steadfast in that belief. That’s why I’ve spent the last three years dedicating one day in May as Writers Worth Day, a time for writers to realize their worth and to inspire each other to build a career based on realistic earnings goals and expectations.

That includes choosing work that pays wages equal to what you’d receive if you were marketing to a company. If you take a look at some of these job offerings, you’ll see payment that’s far beneath even minimum wage. Worse, there are many of these jobs appearing in any given day on the Internet. Writers are too tempted to throw up their hands and say “I can’t find anything else!” and apply despite knowing better. Don’t press Send yet, kids.

We as writers have to turn this idea on its ear. Just because there are tons of lousy job offers out there does not mean we must apply. In fact, I’d rather you think like this: These are not jobs for writers. In fact, they’re not. Just because it requires writing 50 articles a week doesn’t mean it’s a writing job. Let’s put it into perspective – if you were hired to sort mail for a client, would that make you a postal worker? If you were hired to sell burgers out of a van, would that make you a chef? Put the job into perspective. Any job that pays you less than your own hourly rate, and especially those that pay less than minimum wage, are not writing jobs. They’re scams designed to get you to hand over something for nothing.

As writers, we are business owners. We set our rates for the services we provide. Do other service providers allow dictation of their rates from their clients? Clients do have budgets and often your rates won’t fall within their budgets. Fine, but any client who expects you to drop those rates to suit their needs is out of touch. You’d no sooner do that than they’d increase their writing budget, right?

So today, writers, make the choice to determine your own rates and defend them. That doesn’t mean you should get pulled into arguments with clients over why you deserve to be paid that. Your rate is your rate is your rate – you have no reason to justify to anyone. If they don’t like your rate, they’re free to choose another writer. Don’t let that sway you. Any client who doesn’t value your skills enough to pay your rate isn’t your client.

Writers, when was the last time you turned down a job based on the price?

Lori’s Running A Contest!

Lori Widmer blogs at Words on the Page. You can learn more about her at her business site, and if you want to follow her on twitter it’s:http://twitter.com/LoriWidmer

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Abundant Freelance Writing – a resource for freelance writers including 3x a week job postings.
Writing With Vision – for those who want to get a book written.

Image from http://www.sxc.hu

{ 9 comments… add one }
  • This is a wonderful post!

    I had a potential client who said (after talking about his project for a half-hour), “Let’s not limit ourselves to a word count – it should be easy for you to say a lot, so I’ll pay your price for 400 words if you write me around 1200 or 1300 words.”

    I wanted to say, “Are you kidding me? You can pay triple my price for 1300 words…” Instead, I said, “Well, I don’t think I’m the writer for you, but thank you so much for calling.”

    He wanted to argue… I said, “I’m sorry, I have a lot of work to do so I’ll have to let you go – but I wish you the best of luck. Goodbye.” I had to hang up.

    • Anne

      Yikes… some people… I sort of wish you had said “are you kidding me” or something worse.

  • Aparajita, that’s absurd behavior from him! He’s not a client – he’s a leech looking for a freebie. You were smart to quit.

    Those who call a negotiating writer “unprofessional” are pointing the finger in the wrong direction.
    .-= Lori´s last blog ..Disturbances =-.

  • Aparajita

    You’d think you’re lucky if a client agreed to your rates and even promised to pay the amount you ask upfront- that’s what I thought too, until a couple of months ago.
    I recently switched from freelance writing to proofreading (although I still write now and then), and around Feb-March, I got this client who e-mailed me and asked what my rates are. I told him that I worked at $3/page (of MS Word, Times New Roman regular 12 pt font, line spacing 1.0) and asked for 1/3 of the total amount as advance. He agreed to each of my terms and then sent me a huge “sample” work to complete and submit “so that we can build mutual trust”. I did that, and he followed it up with an 11-pg document with the most horrible English I’d ever come across. I reminded him that he hadn’t paid my advance and therefore I couldn’t start work before he did so. His reply: “I cannot pay you without being assured of the quality of your work.” What about the “sample” work then? Then he said, “I’ll pay you half the money for 11 pages if you submit half the work.” Basically, what he was asking for is that I work free for him while he goes on deferring payment.
    And then there were so many suspicious things about him. He wouldn’t share any details about himself no matter how many times I asked- the only thing I knew about him was his email address. Plus, he always claimed to be busy and apparently, never had time to read my emails in their entirety, but he would still respond to each email to regularly call me “unprofessional” and to say that he expected me to “work, be paid, and forget about it”. After all that, I simply had to quit.

  • Wendy

    In a way, you are justifying your rate with your portfolio and any specific credentials you may have. Beyond that there’s no need to argue with anyone over that rate. If the potential client doesn’t want to pay that rate, then it’s okay, they can find someone else. It doesn’t reflect on your ability as a writer.

    • Anne

      I quit arguing. If someone offers substantially less I simply say “I can’t afford to work at that rate.” Just the statement… nothing more. Sometimes they come up, sometimes not… not my fault if they don’t have the money.

  • Amen to this post! Believe me, I stepped it up as a writer. I refuse to sell myself short! I do refuse work and cringe at the $5 or $10 per blog post. You are correct to say that writers are “business owners.” It’s time writers accept it and stick their fees because you’re worth it!
    .-= Rebecca´s last blog ..Cure Writer’s Block by Paying Attention to Your Surroundings =-.

    • Anne

      Yep… business owners… that’s what we are for sure.

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