Equal pay for equal work has been in the news a lot lately, but it’s not the only area where pay needs to catch up to expectations. When it comes to freelance writing, being paid what one is worth is a challenge. But it’s time for that to change.
We’re Our Own Worst Enemy
Unfortunately, when it comes to being paid what they’re worth, freelance writers are their own worst enemy. Why? Consider the following:
- Many writers “work” for websites such as Examiner, Hub Pages and Suite101 that pay pennies per page view. Typically writers need to reach thousands of page views to make even $1.
- A surprisingly large number of writers bid on jobs on sites such as Elance, Guru and oDesk that pay ridiculously low wages such as $1 for 500 words, $5 an hour or $75 for an eBook.
- Writers respond to job ads from businesses claiming they are startups with low budgets and that writers will be paid with an online presence or with clips to build their portfolio.
The more writers who accept these low-paying positions, the worse it makes it for the rest of us. Potential clients and employers begin to believe that low wages are the industry standard. Anyone who requests a reasonable wage is rejected for having a high rate or, worse, for being greedy.
How Can We Change It?
So what can be done to change this situation?
If you’re a freelance writer:
- Realize that your time and talents are valuable and you deserve to be paid accordingly.
- Realize if you don’t work, you don’t get paid. If you accept a low wage, you need to work harder and longer to make the same amount as someone who charges more.
- Don’t accept wages lower than those recommended by the Editorial Freelance Association.
- Make it clear to clients that you are a professional and have business expenses; writing is not your hobby. Explain to clients the rationale behind your fees. Be clear on the time and work involved with each project.
- Ask if rates are negotiable if a potential client offers a low rate.
- Don’t be afraid to walk away if your fees and what the client is willing to pay don’t match.
If you’re a client:
- Realize that the adage “you get what you pay for” is true when it comes to writing.
- Put yourself in the freelance writer’s shoes. If you were trying to make a living writing, how much would you want clients to pay you?
- Would you expect a mechanic, an accountant or a house builder to work for pennies on the dollar? No? Then why would you expect a writer to do so?
Have you ever been in a situation where you had to demand to be paid what your time and talents are worth? Share your story.