A PSA For My Freelance Writing Friends.

Once upon a time, in a land not so far away, I routinely charged upwards of $60 an hour for freelance writing work. Routinely. And my clients? Didn’t blink.

Not anymore. Now every new gig required extensive negotiations – and more often than not, I end up taking less than my gut tells me I should.

In fact, I turn down a lot of jobs simply because they’re not worth my time. I mean, come on. Five dollars for a 500-word blog post? That’s just insulting.

Some of this is no doubt caused by the never-ending economic slump our country finds itself in, and the gamut of well-qualified writers who are relying on freelance work to replace the full time jobs they’ve lost.

But you know what? Not every industry is seeing this precipitous drop in pay scale. In fact, my designer friends still command the rates I used to get.

I have a theory. One that (at least, if you’re a blogger turned freelance writer) you’re probably not going to like.

It’s your fault.

You don’t realize how much you’re worth.

You don’t realize how rare your talent for spinning words actually is.

You undervalue yourselves.

In fact, you’re so grateful that people are willing to pay you for doing what you love that you just accept whatever pennies they decide to throw your way.

And that’s just wrong.

You have real, marketable skills.

You have more talent in your pinkie finger than 99 percent of the people out there.

You deserve to get paid, and paid well.

Those Twitter and Facebook followings you have? They’re worth their weight in gold. So are your subscriber numbers – even if they’re not in the “I am a blogging goddess” range.

People trust you. They’ll follow you (or at least your words) if you ask them to.

Take advantage of everything you’ve worked so hard to build.

You owe it to yourselves. You owe it to each other. And dag nam it, you owe it to me. Mama needs a vacation.

So just stop it.

Stop selling yourselves short.

Stop feeling embarrassed about negotiating pay.

Stand up tall like the talented, professional writers you are and ask for what you deserve.

Those companies, they’re never going to volunteer to pay more. Nope, they’re going to continue to balk, to feel completely justified in offering below-minimum-wage pay, until we make them stop.

Let’s make them stop.


7 Comments on A PSA For My Freelance Writing Friends.

  1. Jen
    May 2, 2012 at 7:25 pm (4 years ago)

    I don’t consider myself a freelance write but I as a blogger my time is worth more than a free pasta or a dress. My time is precious and I want to be compensated for it with more than just a product. Companies need to realize this.

    • Amber
      May 10, 2012 at 9:23 am (4 years ago)

      Amen, sister. Especially with your reach!

  2. Sarah @ This Heavenly Life
    May 2, 2012 at 10:34 pm (4 years ago)

    Love this. The trouble is, I have NO idea how much my time/words are worth. I’ve never been in this business of freelancing until lately, and I only know what my newspaper articles are worth because the publisher tells me. Every columnist at the paper receives the same fee.

    But to negotiate outside of my comfort zone? Clueless :/

    • Amber
      May 10, 2012 at 9:21 am (4 years ago)

      If you ever want advice on how much to charge, feel free to give me a shout! Since I worked in an agency for a long time, I have a good idea of how much you can get away with asking for.

  3. Lizzy
    May 3, 2012 at 11:42 am (4 years ago)

    Great post!
    It’s sad when a prospective client wants me to do research with citations and not Wikipedia links and then write a 5000 word story about the subject and is only willing to pay like $40 for the entire job. The take-home after taxes for the amount of time spent researching, editing, and writing a professional paper is almost a joke.

    I agree with you and I try to pass on these types of clients, since it lowers the bar for everyone in the field. They will get someone to do the work for them, usually somebody, who says: “well, I have a laptop and I got a “B” in my HS English class… how hard writing can be? I’m sure I can do it, just as well as “X”.

    Well it may be easy for a select few, but there a lot of badly written blog posts and articles out there. Who would want to return to a site where all the post is trash? I know I won’t bother visiting a poorly written site again.

    Writing an elegant or entertaining article that holds a reader’s attention is an art all by itself and if you can’t convey your message properly, then you have failed as a writer. The damage might be small like a closed browser window, but other times it could be lost revenue.

    Don’t get me started on the writing “tests” some people put you through. I have a resume with links to most of my work listed, so you can see what kind of quality work you can expect. Why do you need me to write a free lengthy article for you to use and profit off of and then in-the-meantime I wait to hear back if you want another post written now for a fee? There have been times were I don’t get a request back and I wonder how many times this person has done this to other writes. It leaves a bitter taste in my mouth.

    Being a freelancer, I can ultimately decide who I work for and I currently have several clients who actually appreciate what I do for them and this is one of the many reasons I enjoy it so much. Of course, there are the rare clients that come across as unprofessional, but I can simply explain that I am unavailable and will have to pass on the job. I might take time to find a replacement client but I know I will find another one; I just have to be patient.

  4. Allison
    May 3, 2012 at 11:46 am (4 years ago)

    I agree with you, Amber. Professional writers should be commanding the dollar and are deserving of every penny. It must be so frustrating to see those with less talent and ability taking gigs solely because they work for next to nothing. NO ONE can make a living on 5$/blog post!


    • Amber
      May 10, 2012 at 9:20 am (4 years ago)

      No kidding. I just don’t get it. It makes me want to shake some people!


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