Writers’ Worth Week

In marking Writers’ Worth Week, I have given fellow writer Lori Widmer, space to be guest blogger. To the writers, the readers, and those who may employ writers’ talents…please read on. Food for thought.

Four years ago, I decided I couldn’t take it any longer. I’d watched too many writers making too many bad choices that affected not only their revenue, but the revenue of their colleagues. Writing for $4 an article seemed safe to them, but it was causing what I felt was the deterioration of the writing profession.

After fussing and fuming for entirely too long, I decided the best way to change writers’ practices was to appeal to their sense of worth. I started Writers Worth Day, now Writers Worth Week, in an attempt to raise awareness and send a strong message to our writing community. That message – you have value.

You do, you know. Just because a client or thousands of clients are posting jobs paying less than $10 an hour doesn’t mean you’re not worth more. In fact, if you’re working like a professional writer, you realize the problem. Strangers should never determine your market price. You should. Always.

That’s where many writers make their biggest mistakes. If you allow control of your business – and yes, you are running a business – to fall into the hands of others, you’ve lost control of your own career. Here’s how to get it back:

Take control of your earnings.  Set your own rates and stand by them. Don’t lower them just to get the job. The clients who value your services will pay what you ask.

Actively seek better clients. The problem with job listings is that it’s the most passive way to run your business. You’re accepting someone else as your “boss” and you’re letting that person tell you what you’ll be earning, doing, and accepting as working conditions. Instead, find clients with either the same or similar businesses and put together your letter of introduction. In other words, convince them they need you. It’s how the smart businesses thrive.

Say no when it doesn’t fit. It’s so easy to accept work and lower pay out of fear. But that job that pays half what you’re worth isn’t going to be any easier to complete than a job paying a competitive rate. If it doesn’t feel right, trust your instincts. Say no.

Drop clients who don’t value you. Even the nicest clients can be cheapskates. If they aren’t paying you decently or aren’t appreciating what you’re doing, fire them. Find clients who won’t make you jump through hoops or work harder for $20 than anyone has ever worked. Tell them why you’re dropping them, too. Tactfully.

Believe in your abilities and accept nothing less than respect. Too often we allow the doubts in our own heads to drown out our business sense. You are a paid, working professional writer. If you’re not commanding respect from your clients, they’re not your clients. Accept yourself and the rest will fall into place.

What other ways can you realize your own value?

Lori Widmer is a veteran writer and editor with over 15 years of  experience in standing up for her business. The founder of Writers Worth Week, now in its fourth year, she helps writers understand their market value and take control of their businesses. Her e-book, The Worthy Writer’s Guide to Building a Better Business, is available on her weblog, Words on the Page.