Writers Worth: A Different Kind of Proposition

Today’s guest post comes from the query free writer herself, Jennifer Mattern.
Writers: What’s Your
Value Proposition?
By Jennifer Mattern
In an earlier Writer’s Worth post, Lori talked about how
freelance writers need to accept
their own worth
in order to charge professional rates for their services.
She talked about some of the ways you can realize your worth, such as knowing
your competition and visualizing those low-balling clients trying to sell your loved ones on garbage gigs rather than
you. Those are excellent ways to accept your worth internally. But there’s
something else I’d also recommend — figuring out your value proposition.
You’ve probably heard terms like “value
proposition” and “unique selling proposition (USP)” before in
relation to marketing your services to buyers. But your value proposition can
also help you realize your own worth first.
What is a Value
Proposition?
Think of your value proposition as what you bring to the
table.
If you think all you have to offer are articles, blog posts,
white papers, or other finished products, you might not understand the full
extent of what you really do for your
clients — the reasons they actually hire you. This is why I hear from content
mill writers who say they’re thrilled to get $15 per article. After all,
they’re just doing something they love, so they should be happy to get paid at
all, right? Wrong.
What You Really Offer
Clients
You don’t simply offer words on a page. You offer that and
so much more. Depending on the type of freelance writing you do, here are some
examples of the real value you (and your words) provide:
  • Credibility
    for your client
  • An
    increased customer base
  • Marketing,
    sales, or PR expertise
  • Expert
    advice on your industry or your client’s market
  • More
    time and freedom for your client to pursue other lucrative aspects of
    their business
  • And so
    much more!
Let’s look at a more specific example. Say you write sales
letters for clients trying to sell software. You don’t just bring them text.
You bring them increased sales (and therefore more money). You understand
testing. You understand conversions. You understand the market. And you
understand what makes your clients’ customers tick.
You do more than write the actual copy. You’re a marketing
consultant. You’re an advisor. You’re the person clients go to because they
don’t have this kind of expertise themselves. They value your opinions. They
want your feedback. Your job isn’t just to say “tell me what you want and
I’ll write it all pretty-like.” It’s to act in an advisory capacity to help
them expand their business through better writing. And you deserve to be paid
well for that.
The same is true of any other type of freelance writer.
  • Freelance
    bloggers free their clients up to focus on marketing and monetization
    while attracting a loyal readership.
  • Freelance
    PR writers bring the expertise to help clients build earned media
    coverage, build industry recognition, and put out fires.
  • Technical
    writers can take complicated information and weave it into
    easy-to-understand formats for laymen and industry insiders alike (which
    many companies struggle to do effectively on their own).  
  • Magazine
    writers are the people who bring readers back every month and convince
    buyers to become subscribers, building the audience magazines then monetize.
  • Even
    content mill writers offer more than they realize — the serious ones at
    least. They bring the mill sites better search engine rankings, more
    traffic, and therefore more ad dollars. They also lend mills any sense of
    credibility they might have (which is why content mills have so
    desperately tried to escape the “shallow content” label over the
    last year — they need your
    credibility to survive).
Think of everything you really
bring to the table as a freelance writer. What goals do you help clients
reach? How do you help their businesses or organizations thrive? What benefits
do they enjoy by hiring you over the competition?
List everything you might use as a selling point when
talking to a prospect. And then remind yourself
of this value proposition the next time you wonder if you’re worth the
professional rates you want to charge. I’d bet for many of you, you’re worth
even more.
Jennifer Mattern is a professional blogger, freelance
business writer, and e-book author. She owns 3 Beat Media, the company behind
blogs like All Freelance Writing
and BizAmmo. She plans to launch a new site
for freelance writers, indie publishers, and professional bloggers during the
summer of 2013 called All
Indie Writers
.

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Comments

  • Cathy Miller May 17, 2013 at 11:20 am

    Now if that doesn't clearly express a writer's worth, I don't know what does. Well done, Jenn.

    We help clients keep marketing goals on track and they don't even have to pay us benefits. Although I wish they'd pick up my health insurance. 😉

    There is certainly a lot we bring to the table.

    Reply
  • Paula May 17, 2013 at 1:36 pm

    Wish they'd cover my health insurance, too, Cathy. Or at least contribute to an HSA.

    Great post, Jenn. But what really gets me are people who only want to pay for those words on the page (or screen), with no consideration for the research, time, and effort put into gathering, understanding and organizing the information before we even write a word, and the time spent editing the copy to match their style and word limit. Maybe itemizing invoices spanning each of those tasks would help.

    Reply
  • Jenn Mattern May 17, 2013 at 4:39 pm

    Thanks ladies. 🙂

    What I generally tell new writers re: health insurance is that your clients actually do cover it for you. At least if you remember to account for it in your rates. All the money you'd put toward a policy comes from them. You just have to remember to ask for enough. That and thinking of vacation time as "unpaid" are common issues I've seen with writers. Sure it's all covered and paid for. If we're setting our rates properly! 🙂

    Paula – With clients like that, I just emphasize what's going into a piece — especially when they act like they need something immediately, with no clue as to how much time it's going to take. It's like they think the words just flow out of us like perfect little rainbows from our infinite store of knowledge.

    If a basic explanation that you need to account for research and editing time doesn't cut it for them, go ahead and itemize it. Then tell them you can do it faster or cheaper (if that's what they're pushing for) only if they're willing to invest the time into knocking several of those things off your list. Sometimes you have to show them exactly what you're saving them from having to do before they appreciate your true value.

    Reply
  • Lori May 20, 2013 at 1:54 pm

    Amen and bravo, Jenn! I love how you break this down into the various things beyond words that a good writer brings to a client. These people are using your skills to attract more clients and more money. Damn right they need you!

    Thank you for the post, hon. I truly appreciate it.

    Reply
  • Jenn Mattern May 21, 2013 at 9:57 am

    Never a problem Lori. 🙂

    Reply
  • Sharon Hurley Hall May 21, 2013 at 11:35 pm

    Love this, Jenn. It's a really clear statement of the true value of a good writer.

    Reply