Thanks to Lori Widmer today has been declared Writer’s Worth Day. I’d have to say as a freelancer making sure I’m compensated appropriately is one of the hardest parts and a never ending battle.
I wish it were as easy as a simple site that tells you how much you should be paid per article, press release, one-sheet, book edit, etc.. but it can never be boiled down to something that simple. Each area of the country, type of publication, person writing, is different and as a result the pay scale is going to be different.
But it’s important to be paid what you are worth, for your own self-esteem but also to send a message to clients that your product really is THAT good.
Here’s what I’ve learned from past experience:
Acknowledge your worth. Don’t put yourself or your writing down. Hopefully you never do this to a client, but don’t do it to family and friends either. You’re in the profession, you’re making money - you must be good at it. Editors aren’t going to pay those who aren’t.
Always pitch slightly higher than you think a client would be willing to pay. Chances are you are mentally diminishing your worth as a writer and the client planned to pay more.
Carefully think through each opportunity. There may be some jobs that come along that pay pittance but the clip is something you want or the free marketing it is going to give you is just too great to pass up. Other times a low-paying (or no-paying) job isn’t going to add anything to your career - pass on those.
Stretch your comfort zone. Try for the gigs you’d love but think you don’t stand a chance. Contact a favorite publication with a pitch. Try writing for a different medium.
Set your standards. Have a general idea of what your rate-per-word is for writing, your pay-per-hour for edits. Do a little research online to find some going rates. Make yours competitive in the market you’re in. This isn’t set in stone, but it’ll give you an idea of where to start from.
Ask for more. Sometimes we find ourselves in a gig that requires more work than we expected and the pay is not up to par for the time we’re putting in. If it’s a long-term project, don’t be afraid to ask for more money. Point out how you are benefiting the client and what you think is fair. They might say, sorry we don’t have more to offer. Or they might say you’re right. As long as you’re polite and respectful - it doesn’t hurt to ask.