Three weeks of Writers Worth posts — can you believe it? Thanks to everyone who posted and those whose posts are in transit. You have helped make this a fantastic movement of learning and sharing and encouragement (and butt kicking — can’t forget that!). May what you’ve written and commented inspire another writer to change bad habits.
I’m sitting in a Starbucks in Vancouver, inches from losing my electronic connection for a week and looking forward to it. The trouble with bringing electronics on a getaway — you never really get away. But it was necessary this week as projects and invoices had to be sorted.
I’m also here because Samar Owais delivered on her promise to guest post, and I knew you wouldn’t want to miss this. Samar is someone I’ve been acquainted with for a while, but whose presence on the Five Buck Forum has been inspiring to say the least. She’s prepared a fantastic beginners’ course on getting a freelance business off the ground, and it’s offered in self-paced form over on About Writing Squared. That’s my shameless plug.
Samar, thank you for the post! It’s a strong reminder that this is a business. Amen, sister.
How to Stop Treating Your Freelance Writing Business Like a Hobby
By Samar Owais
Four years ago when I started freelancing, I thought I’d hit pay dirt. I’d be paid to write on topics that interest me? Sign me up!
Unfortunately, what I’d hit was a content mill.
While I eventually left content mills behind and moved on to actual clients, the damage was done.
I had no confidence as a writer and because I believed my writing wasn’t good enough, I charged accordingly. In short, I undervalued myself.
After working for rates that were higher than content mills but still low enough to keep me in the red, I had a bit of an epiphany.
None of my client had ever complained about my work. In fact, quite a few of them had me on a retainer. More than that, no one had demanded their money back!
That’s when it hit me.
I’m a writer.
I’m a bloody good writer!
And my freelance writing isn’t a hobby – it’s a business!
These three simple truths still hit me every day.
If you’re a freelance writer struggling with rates, if you have trouble valuing your work, if you’re stuck writing for deadbeat clients – it’s time to do yourself a favour and believe.
You’re a writer
You’re a writer. A professional one at that!
Ask yourself this: If you weren’t a freelance writer and instead had a kick ass job that you loved, would you still write?
If you answered yes, then you’re a writer.
Stephen King nailed the sentiment recently in an interview with Neil Gaiman. “They pay me absurd amounts of money,” he observes, “For something that I would do for free.” (You can read the entire interview here)
You’re a bloody good writer
You use words to help your clients reach their goals. Because of your writing they sound professional, personable and trust worthy. That makes you a bloody good writer.
More importantly, if you have clients who are happy and satisfied with your work then that’s all the proof you need.
It’s high time you start believing.
Your freelance writing isn’t a hobby – it’s a business
This is the crux of it all. This is the key to valuing your work. You’re not doing anyone a favour by writing for them. Nor is anyone doing you a favour by giving you work.
You’re a bloody good writer which is why they come to you. Charge accordingly. You’re running a business after all!
Don’t know what to charge? Forget the going rates for the kind of writing you do. Simply figure out the amount you need to make to stay afloat.
Next, figure out how many clients you’ll need that will keep the work at a manageable level and let you earn enough to stay in business.
Put these two on and X and Y scale and find your happy medium.
Then go find those clients and slowly raise your rates to start making a profit.
Samar Owais is a freelance blogger and ebook writer. She offers rock-solid tips for freelance writing success on her blog The Writing Base and is passionate about helping freelancers break free from low paying content mills.