I hear it all the time. As a freelancer, I've accumulated over two hundred and fifty published articles, over a thousand blog posts, and published nineteen books. Despite this experience, I'm still nickle and dimed to death over rates. Just this last Saturday, a man from a supposed "financial firm" called me to discuss a position as a staff blogger. The call was going fine, but then it came to rate: in exchange for me taking time to interview CEOs and other movers and shakers in the financial industry, researching the article, and writing a post with a minimum of 500 words, he was willing to pay me thirty dollars a day.
THIRTY DOLLARS A DAY!
I didn't even bother negotiating because that was a low ball offer and, after talking to the man, I doubted the legitimacy of his "financial firm." Yes, you heard me right: I didn't counter. What would I bring him up to? Fifty dollars a day for about six hours or so of time when you factor calling people, research, writing, and marketing? It was an insulting offer and told me that this was an organization I had no interest working with further.
My point is that it's okay to turn down work or simply walk away from an offer that doesn't value what you're bringing to the table. Too many writers think they need to take anything and everything that crosses their path just to build up their portfolio or for the chance of being "seen." The fact is that if you've already built up a portfolio like I have and are blogging and marketing yourself, chances are you are being seen.
Did you know that the Huffington Post doesn't pay their writers? They are a huge media organization profiting from advertisers and they're still able to convince writers to work for them for free. WHY?
The problem is that we writers are not valuing our experience and are not confident enough to demand what we're worth. Because there are so many writers out there who are hungry for exposure and must have some other source of income, they will take the free jobs and perpetuate the idea that it's okay to work for free. It isn't.
This practice is causing talented, hard-working, experienced writers to leave the business they've always loved. That's not right but it's common.
Change begins when we unite and start saying 'no' to free assignments--or pennies on the dollar gigs. Yes, there will always be someone willing to do it--someone fresh out of college or new to the game. Let them. But if you're not new, if you have an established portfolio, then do not settle. If you don't value your experience, then no one else will. Set a fair rate, stick to it, and the right clients will come. If you keep undercutting yourself, you'll end up being one of those talented writers who simply can't afford to do business any longer.
Amber Lea Easton
Amber Lea Easton is a multi-published author of nonfiction, thrillers, and romantic suspense. A professional editor and freelance journalist for nearly two decades, she created Mountain Moxie Publishing Services to assist authors in mastering the writing craft. Her memoir, Free Fall, is dedicated to spreading suicide awareness, has topped international best selling charts, and has been named by Dr. Prem as fourth on the "Ten Most Inspiring True Stories Everyone Must Read" list. Easton is also a speaker regarding parenting through trauma and suicide awareness. To discover more about Mountain Moxie Publishing Services, please go to http://www.moxiegirlwriting.com. For a list of all of Easton's books, articles and interviews, go to http://www.amberleaeaston.com.