Welcome to Writers Worth Week!

I’m baaaaack…..

Okay, I’ll admit to writing this before I left, but I know I won’t have the energy after the cross-country flight that gets in late in the evening. So forgive me that, okay?

Today kicks off the fourth annual Writers Worth celebration! I have blog posts popping up all over the Internet this week, so as they come up, I’ll post links for you. Here are the first three:

Damaria Senne: Story Pot – Building Worth
Tiah Beautement: – Fiction Writers
Zukiswa Wanner: – Zukiswa Wanner

Thank you to Damaria, Tiah and Zukiswa for hosting me today! Damaria is amazing – she heard I was looking for places to post and she rounded up her blog friends. A big thank you to you, Damaria. πŸ™‚

That doesn’t mean we won’t still be celebrating here. In fact, let’s start it off with a contest. I’ll post a worth-inducing post of tips and advice. You do the same. Comment by the end of the day Friday (11:59 pm EDT) and you can be one of four people to win your copy of The Worthy Writer’s Guide to Building a Better Business. Over 90 pages of good stuff designed to help you rock your career, and you can be one of those four lucky folks who gets it without paying $11.95.

So let’s start this celebration of awareness with some ways in which you can improve your own sense of worth:

Think of your writing as a business. You are running a small business – you’re not just a writer. Adopt the mindset of a business owner. It will help you protect your business health (right down to the rates you charge or accept), and it will position you as a professional.

Plan it. You cannot know where your business is headed if you don’t plan the path. Map out your goals – monetary, client pool, expertise areas, etc. Then map out ways to get to each one. It’s not hard once you start. In fact, it’s kind of fun and it’s a great time to brainstorm and be creative.

Stay accountable. The regular blog community here is subjected monthly to my online assessments of what went right or wrong with my business. You don’t have to do it online, but find someone to be accountable to. You can’t imagine the motivation behind having to report your results. Nothing keeps you on track better with your business, your marketing, and your invoicing.

Make better decisions. That means saying no to offers that don’t fit, finding new ways to market smarter, biting your tongue in half instead of engaging in a war of words with unruly clients, and developing an airtight invoicing system.

Contact new clients every day. Give yourself a break on weekends (or what accounts for your weekend), but make sure to get in touch with new client prospects every working day. I suggest seven new clients and seven existing clients, but some writers don’t have seven existing clients. In that case, contact 14 new clients each week. It’s not hard. Meet them on Twitter, chat with them on LinkedIn, introduce yourself via LOIs – all of these count as contacts. And track them. You’ll want to get back in touch within 6 to 8 weeks.

Please tweet if you think of it, and spread the word any way you can. One more writer making great business decisions is one more professional in our ranks!

Leave your comment as your contest entry answering this question:

How can you improve your worth within yourself and/or among your clients and potential clients?

About the author




  • Devon Ellington May 9, 2011 at 11:19 am

    I think if you plan too much, you trap yourself into the same rut you had in a 9-5 office job. I think there needs to be a mix of planning and the ability to grasp new opportunities as they come up. My best jobs — on financially and emotionally satisfying levels — have been the ones that just turned up. If I'd been locked into "my plan", I'd have missed out. By being flexibile and jumping at the opportunity, I wound up with a great experience.

  • Lori May 9, 2011 at 12:03 pm

    Good morning, Ms. Devon. πŸ™‚

    Great advice. We do tend to say things like "Can't do it – I'm already working 40 hours this week." How about 45 and the pleasure of a new client?

  • Eileen May 9, 2011 at 12:30 pm

    Dedicate a portion of your budget to investing in yourself and your skills. Attend copywriting conferences or online classes, buy books, hire coaches. As you increase your knowledge base, you'll also increase your worth to clients and the fees you can command.

  • Lori May 9, 2011 at 12:44 pm

    Having just had a successful conference, I say a BIG amen to that, Eileen. Invest in yourself to learn AND to grow the biz.

  • Cathy May 9, 2011 at 12:59 pm

    Respect yourself and your client will respect you.

  • Lori May 9, 2011 at 1:01 pm

    Amen to that, Cathy.

  • Paula May 9, 2011 at 1:08 pm

    Never refer to yourself as "just a writer" unless you're being sarcastic.

    When people hear something enough times they start to believe it, so instead of downplaying the skills that go into being a good writer, why not tout the fact that earning straight As in an English class does not a writer make?

    Happy Writers' Work WEEK everybody!

  • Jenn Mattern May 9, 2011 at 1:29 pm

    Accountability is the one that often gets me. Sometimes it's tough for me to stay on track when I'm not accountable to anyone in particular — meaning mostly on my own projects.

    That's why I love Yo though. I expected to send her the first chapter of my novel for a critique on Friday. Instead the b/f took a day off and I went to see him for the weekend earlier than expected. Silly me. I came home to an email simply stating "YOU ARE FAIL." lol I frowned a bit. I laughed it off. And then I finished the chapter and shot it off first thing this morning. Had she not kept my rear in gear it might still be sitting there waiting on my attention.

  • Lori May 9, 2011 at 1:42 pm

    Too much sarcasm can seep into the brain, Paula. Great point.

    Jenn, though you are not FAIL, I love that Yo kept you accountable. πŸ™‚

  • Joseph Hayes May 9, 2011 at 2:00 pm

    I agree very much with Paula; "just a writer" should never be heard. We've made a choice, we should stick to it. The most important point of the intentional career is when you put "writer" on your business card (we all do have business cards, don't we?)

    What we need to remember for our own self-worth is something you're a prime example of, Lori: Do the Work, stay professional, but remain human.

  • Lori May 9, 2011 at 2:10 pm

    Joseph, for me ordering that first set of business cards was the defining moment in my career. I was admitting to myself that I HAD a career.

    Remain human – totally agree. Without it, we're not much fun to be around. πŸ™‚

  • Wendy May 9, 2011 at 2:34 pm

    I'm going to answer, but I don't want it to be entered into the contest. I'm not being mean, but I would like to see someone who needs it more, get it.

    Be honest. If you can't do a project in 3 days, say so. Don't tell them you will and then on the last day, find yourself in a rush, slapping something together just to get it out by the deadline. Tell them your limitations and let them decide if they still want to hire you.

  • Susan Johnston May 9, 2011 at 2:57 pm

    I agree with Devon that too much planning could hold you back. Wendy also touched on this tip, but I'm going to quote veteran freelancer David Hochman, because I think he sums it up nicely: "Under promise, over deliver."

  • Paula May 9, 2011 at 3:00 pm

    Wendy brought us right back to the whole idea of integrity that we discussed a week or two ago. I know people in other lines of work who puff themselves up with how professional they are while simultaneously seeking ways to avoid doing actual work or meeting their professional obligations.

    (Yes, a couple of those "pros" were publishers who prided themselves on their magazines' brilliant articles and sold loads of ads based on having high-quality content, yet dragged their feet at paying the people who wrote that revenue-generating material.)

    Honesty and integrity are prized qualities, indeed.

  • Ashley May 9, 2011 at 3:19 pm

    I mentioned reliability a few days ago, and I want to stress it again. If you tell a client you're going to do something, do it. If you know you can't do it, why promise a client you will just to get the job? Even if something comes up, you need to find a way to get it done. If you don't, you're only going to disappoint the client and yourself, and you certainly won't be working for that client again. But if you come through every time, you've increased your worth to that client, and everyone that client recommends you to!

  • Jake P May 9, 2011 at 3:51 pm

    Welcome back, LW!

    Some excellent wisdom here and I'm struggling to find any gaps. πŸ™‚ In particular, I'd echo Devon's point (and Susan's echo) about the need for flexibility; and Jenn's comment about letting my own projects languish when up to my ears in paying work. Maybe Yo can start up a subscription "YOU ARE FAIL" service that autogenerates when you blow off your own deadlines. As in competitive sports, a little humiliation can be a great motivator.

    At my last CorpoWorld job, we had a "Yes" policy — loosely defined, it meant you had to say "yes" to any client request, while informing them about any resulting parameters/ramifications. It wasn't perfect, but I thought the philosophy was a good one: Figure out how to be the person that makes things happen, and you'll engender a lot of loyalty.

  • Damaria Senne May 9, 2011 at 4:42 pm

    My pleasure Lori:-)

    I'd suggest networking with other writers who respect themselves and their businesses. I've learnt so a lot about being a freelance writer from more experienced writers….they've been there, made their mistakes and I appreciate that I can benefit from their experiences.

  • Irreverent Freelancer May 9, 2011 at 6:09 pm

    Welcome back, Lori! I'll be sending people your way from my blog this week. Every week should be Writers' Worth Week!

  • Lori May 9, 2011 at 8:18 pm

    Great advice, Wendy. πŸ™‚

    Perfect, Susan! It's always a pleasant surprise to get more than expected.

    Thanks, Jake! I see the Bruins are still going strong. I like that policy, BTW. Sounds like a great way to build a business while holding firm on the boundaries.

    Such great advice, Damaria. I've learned tons from these people here and from other writers across the Web. We're always able to learn something.

    Thanks, Kathy! Good to be back (almost – it was really gorgeous there). Thanks for the added traffic! If it causes one writer to make better choices, then it's made my week. πŸ™‚

  • Pamela May 9, 2011 at 8:52 pm

    I love your suggestions and see how they could improve my "fiction" business tremendously. So glad Damaria had you as a guest on Storypot today. Looking forward to hearing more from you and so happy to "meet" another Pennsylvania writer!

  • Lori May 9, 2011 at 10:21 pm

    Hey, Pamela! Great to see you here, and glad you took something away from my post over at Damaria's. We have to talk – where in PA and what the specialty is, etc. Always happy to meet another writer, especially one in the same state!

  • mojo May 10, 2011 at 1:39 pm

    Think beyond writing articles. I've been having great luck with foundations and organizations that definitely don't want to hire a staffer, but have regular writing needs and don't want to continually train somebody new to handle them. One has provided a set monthly income for three years. Another I started with last year and they just doubled my contract. Aim for consistent clients on whom you can rely.

  • Lori May 10, 2011 at 1:52 pm

    mojo, that's fantastic! Good for you for realizing that a broader reperatoire was in order.

  • Wade Finnegan May 10, 2011 at 4:19 pm

    Surrounding yourself with good people is key. As a sole proprietor you need support. The internet makes networking easy. If I started this 20 years ago, as I almost did, I would have felt alone. Lori and countless others have developed a community of freelance writers and they lead by example. This gives me the confidence that a freelancing career is viable and they lend a ear when I need someone to talk to.

  • Lori May 10, 2011 at 5:56 pm

    Wade, thank you for the compliment, and you're right. The community is essential. Too often I see writers floundering, afraid to ask for help. No need. It's here and in many places around the Internet. While I have seen a few writers intent on advancing their own careers at the expense of others, I'm happy to say that's the exception and not the norm.

  • L.C. Gant May 11, 2011 at 9:57 pm

    Yay, Writers Worth Week! I thought it'd never get here πŸ™‚ There's been so much great feedback that I almost didn't comment for fear I had nothing to add. Almost…

    I particularly love the comments about finding support from other successful writers. That's really been the kicker for me as I've gotten started in this biz.

    I have a certain level of success in mind, so I find folks that I know are at that level or higher and soak up as much advice from them as I can. I figure some of that positive energy is bound to rub off on me eventually, haha!

    Thanks so much for putting Writers Worth Week on the map, Lori. We need it more than we often care to admit.

  • Rachel May 14, 2011 at 1:12 am

    I just found your site, and I'm so excited to browse through! I'm starting as a freelance writer, and soaking in as much information as I can.

  • Lori May 16, 2011 at 12:04 am

    Welcome, Rachel! That's the best idea – soak it in like a sponge. If you have questions, please ask! Plenty of us here are happy to help.