If I’ve learned one thing about freelancers in my long career, it’s that we get entrenched in our habits rather easily. We don’t chase invoices regularly, we apologize for our rates often, and we don’t really expect much in general. Also, we take jobs that don’t pay a lot and stick with them “for now.” A year later, those jobs have become our mainstay.
The hard part about any bad habit is breaking it. If you’ve ever tried to make – and then keep – New Year’s resolutions, it’s that hard. You have the best intentions, but you lack something in implementation. We all do sometimes.
If I were to tell you how to leave behind that low-paying gig or that client who refuses to pay you more than the pittance you’ve agreed to, would you do it? How about if you tried it just for today? Imagine the change being one you make for just 24 hours. It doesn’t require a ton of commitment to pull off one day of doing things better. So start there.
Just for today:
Say no to an offer that doesn’t fit. Tell the client why, too. That way, clients get an idea of what professional writers will accept and won’t accept.
Aim higher up the food chain. Find a similar, better paying gig to the one you’ve been wishing would pay more. Then craft a query or letter of introduction and ask for the job.
Ask for more. You know your worth (or at least you should know what other professionals would accept). Expect it. If you don’t, no one will offer it to you willingly. Start your negotiating at the high end for a change.
Don’t apologize. Look in a mirror and repeat after me: “I am a professional and my rate is my rate. It will not be dictated by a stranger.” Then go out there and ask for what you’re worth.
Embrace your marketable skills. Your writing is a valuable commodity. Plant that idea in your brain and don’t let it escape. Let the notion to the surface every time you enter into client negotiations.
Say goodbye to that dead-end gig. Free yourself from too much work for too little pay. Allow yourself to realize that the justifications you’ve created for staying there – It’s a check; it’s easy work; I’m not sure there’s anything else out there in this economy; etc. – are empty promises you’re using to stay in what you think is a safe zone.
As we celebrate Writers Worth Week, look at your career and your work habits from a different perspective. Think of the things you’re doing – or allowing – that are getting in the way of your career growth. Then change them. See what one day’s worth of changes can do for your attitude and your confidence. The minute you take charge of your career path, you’ll find the confidence to stretch beyond your current boundaries and create exciting, new opportunities.
Lori Widmer is a veteran writer and editor with over 15 years of experience in standing up for her business. The founder of Writers Worth Week, now in its fourth year, she helps writers understand their market value and take control of their businesses. Her e-book, The Worthy Writer’s Guide to Building a Better Business, is available on her weblog, Words on the Page.
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