Friday, May 15, 2009

In Honor of Writer's Worth Day

Have you noticed the lovely, little logo to the left with the caption that reads, "Talent is Priceless?" Well, Lori Widmer, a writer I admire, has officially declared today Writers Appreciation Day. Today is a day for us to take a moment to consider everything that we put into writing for our clients. Whether you write articles, whitepapers, brochures or expertly crafted sales letters and landing pages, the process you go through to create the final product has worth.

The low rate writing cycle

I started freelancing online back in September of 2007. I knew very little about web writing, so I went from writer's forum to writer's forum learning as much as I could about which projects were in demand, getting clients and figuring out what to charge.

While I didn't start off writing $5 articles, I was certainly guilty of accepting low pay gigs. I was spending much more of my time networking with other writers who considered those rates typical. As I did my research, I discovered I wasn't even charging average industry rates on many projects. It took me some time to realize that I really had two problems: not charging enough and a clientele that expected low rates.

Setting goals

It's not easy to raise rates on existing clients. I learned that the key to getting better rates was finding clients that knew the value of the service I provided and were willing to pay well. This meant I needed to focus on a completely different target market. I also tried to learn as much as possible from veteran writers, like Lori, who were already doing what I wanted to do.

Why low rate writers are bad for business

A lot of writers are becoming frustrated at the number of potential clients out there seeking writing services for peanuts. At first it was easy to ignore. You figured that if another writer wanted to write a 500 word article for $2.50 so be it. But in the end it really does affect us all.

It may seem like a good idea to charge clients bargain basement prices in this economy, but when things recover where can you really go from there? You'll have a tough time raising rates if you start low. You'll eventually burn out trying to get enough low pay work to pay the bills. A writer deserves to at least make more than minimum wage.

Figuring out what to charge

Setting rates can be tricky when you're first getting started, but there are a lot of pricing guides out there to help you get started. Try this one and this one. Sure, you might start out on the low end when you get started, but your value increases as you get more experience. Take the time to find clients that appreciate what you do and will pay accordingly.


Mary said...

Love your words of wisdom. It is simply too frustrating to work for paltry rates. You have to feel good about what you're doing in order to continue. You've shown new writers that it's possible to get there.

Lori said...

Damn girl, you hid from me! :) Good thing I come here regularly or I wouldn't have seen this. If you told me you were posting, I totally forgot. Old age, you know. :)

Thanks for the link love, the support, and the friendship. I appreciate all three, especially the last. :)

Jennifer L said...

Thanks for the info! I realized from looking at that second link in the "figuring out what to charge" that I could actually charge more than I am, given my experience level. But these days, I'm almost afraid to ask!

Kimberly Ben said...

@ Mary: Thank you for the kind comments. I figure if we didn't provide such a valuable skill writers wouldn't be in such demand. We can't give up on demanding fair pay for our service.

@ Lori: Thank you for declaring Writers Worth Day! I don't think you know how much you have inspired me and many others pursuing a freelance writing business.

@ Jennifer L: I'm still figuring out rates in some cases, but am inspired by how much we really CAN make doing this!:)

Anonymous said...

We all take on jobs here and there at lower rates. Sometimes they're worth it, sometimes they're not, we learn and move on.

But, as you say, if you get stuck in the cycle of low paying jobs, you just burn out.

We do this both because we're good at it and because we love it. We should not be punished because we're passionate about our work.

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