Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Writer's Worth Week Guest Post:

What Are You Worth?

By Lori Widmer

The news a few weeks back about the writers who worked for free suing Huffington Post’s Arianna Huffington for $105 million of the $350 million she received when AOL bought HuffPo was shocking. Yet it wasn’t because the writers were suing – I think anyone could have predicted that given the amount of money involved. It was shocking because these writers were demanding fairness after the fact.

It’s issues like this that inspired me to start Writers Worth Week, my annual awareness campaign where hopefully another writer will be motivated to understand their market value. If one more writer makes one more smart business decision, then the movement is worth it.

But it’s not easy changing our business behavior. We get entrenched in doing things the same way because we’re getting by. But wouldn’t you like to do more than that?

You can, you know. You can shift your thinking right now and start seeing the results almost immediately. I did. It was the best thing I’ve ever done.

So writers, make today the day you change one thing about your business. If you need me to require it, let’s call it your homework.

Your homework: Start thinking of your writing as a business. It is. Changing your mindset to business mode makes it easier for you to stand firm in your rates and conduct business as a professional. Take control of your business. You're no longer apologizing for wanting to charge for doing something you love. Baseball players charge for doing what they love – why shouldn't you?

Okay, that was a pretty cake assignment, so you're getting two.

Second one:

Just for today, turn down one offer that doesn't meet with your income goals. Drop a low-paying client or renegotiate your current pay rate. Do something that says, "Thank you, but I'm worth more."

Second part of the assignment: this week, identify at least three more potential clients who will pay your rate without question.

Do you think of your writing as a business?

When was the last time you sought out higher-paying work?

Lori Widmer is a veteran writer and editor who is worth every penny her clients pay. She blogs about all things writing-related at Words on the Page.


Lori said...

Thanks so much for the blog space, Kim! I appreciate it. :)

Cathy said...

Hi, Lori. I started freelancing in 2008. It wasn't until this last year that I started calling myself a business owner.

You know all those 4 bajillion forms you do that ask for a title. Instead of Business Writer, I put Owner and my name and Business Writer/Consultant under the name of the business. I finally started thinking of myself more in terms of a business owner. It does make a difference.

Maybe it was all that nagging you did. :-) Seriously, I think it's great that you devote so much of your time to helping writers understand their worth. Thank you.

Lori said...

Well, I'm happy to nag the daylights out of you, Cathy. Gives the family here a break! LOL

Kimberly Ben said...

Forgive me guys - I'm traveling today and I didn't want to use the unsecured WiFi to log into my Google account.

It was my pleasure to share your post here, Lori. :)

Cathy, I totally agree that treating freelancing as a business makes a big difference. It makes a difference in how you feel about what you have to offer and clients perceive you differently as well.

Ashley said...

I do know writers who just do what it takes to get by because they're afraid to ask for more, or they're afraid to lose a client. Sometimes I feel afraid of that too, but taking low-paying jobs makes me resent the client and lose respect for myself and my business. That's much worse in the long run than losing a client. Plus, all the time I would have spent on the low-paying job can be dedicated to finding a better client!

Lori said...

I don't blame you, Kim. I wouldn't be eager to be exposed to viruses, either. :)

Getting by - don't we all attempt that at first, Ashley? But you've made a great effort to stand up for yourself, and it's paying off! Good for you.

Kimberly Ben said...

I've had a virus-riddled computer shut down on me before, Lori. Better safe than sorry (thankfully I can check email safely from my phone-Yay, technology!). :)

I know exactly what you mean, Ashley. THAT is the very trap I fell into over and over when I first started freelancing. That fear can be hard to overcome. I still battle with it from time to time if I'm being completely honest, but the fact is being saddled with low-paying clients is a recipe for burnout and financial struggle.

Anne Wayman said...

Turning down low paid work is so important and scary - one way to make it less scary is to have savings... even a month's worth of income in savings, ideally a lot more than that, makes you a better negotiatior.

Kimberly Ben said...

You're so right, Anne. Turning those low-paying gigs down is scary, but essential so you have time to focus on the gigs that are worth your time. Having a nice savings as a cushion during this is an ideal plan.

Devon Ellington said...

I'm in the process of gently disentangling myself from several clients I've grown to resent. For me, it's not just about money, but about where I want my career to go. They don't fit my vision any more.

Lori said...

Ashley, there is a fear - the fear we're going to lose our clients. Uh, a client who doesn't pay you well for your talents isn't one you should keep. It's crazy, isn't it? And you're right - the next step is straight to resentment.

Devon, it doesn't happen often, but you're right. There are those clients whom we outgrow.

Kimberly Ben said...

Devon brings up a good point when she mentions the vision for her business. It's really important to know going in that as you gain experience, the vision will change and ideally your business must adjust accordingly. I've outgrown clients a s well - some our business relationship faded gradually and naturally. Others I've held onto out of fear and the resentment Ashely mentioned began to fester.

When you work for yourself, the only person you can count on to push you to the next level is you, otherwise you get stuck with low-paying clients and the resentment will begin to make you hate what you do.

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