Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Freelance Writing Commandment #3 - Know Your Worth

Each day, freelancers troll job boards, contact editors, follow-up with clients and screen offers for gigs. And with each contact we make decisions on our worth. The question is, are you treating yourself with the respect you deserve?
Are you constantly tempted to lower your rates for friends and associates? Do you pause before you send your invoices or proposals with the thought of "No one's going to pay me that much?" If so, you have a confidence problem, and I understand because I had one too.

I had one until one late evening I found myself working my tail off for a couple of bucks. By the time I had finished the project and made sure it met my personal standards, I had lost an entire evening of work. I realized I was working too hard for too little. Then, in case I'd forgotten my late night pledge of "never again," the client decided they wanted to make additional changes -- four different revisions to be exact.

Knowing your worth is doing enough research to know the fair price range for services in several markets, sticking to your range and also knowing your base rate so when you do give a deep discount you don't undermine your own economic goals.

It's courageous and professional to say "I'm sorry, that's below my minimum." Constantly undercutting yourself can have several negative results:
  1. You're putting yourself into or under the poor house.

  2. Clients may second guess your skill and ability - why are you so cheap if you're so good?

  3. You may end up resenting the gig, the client and your profession because you're knocking back 60 hours a week and barely making ends meet.

  4. You undermine other writing professionals.
Everyone wants a good deal and when there are writers out there who will create 50 500 word articles for $.10 each, clients will and do expect other writers to do the same.

I've had potential clients say "Well for that much I can get 10 articles from other writers!" And I reply ever so sweetly, "Probably, but quality costs." One time I pointed to a lady's Prada bag while saying it and I got the contract.

So friends, even if you can't believe people are willing to pay you well for all the wonderful work you do, think of your fellow writer who knows they should get a higher wage and don't undermine their goals. Be a professional and know your worth!

Do you have a set of standard rates? Ever undercut yourself? Spill the gory details!


Dawn said...

This is an AWESOME post!!! I just stumbled it!!! (on stumbleupon)

Terreece said...

Thanks Dawn! It's something you and I got that connection going on about :0) I keep reminding myself of Harlan Ellison :0)hahahahah!

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