Since Paula Hendrickson is the pushy type (why I’m doing a month of Writers Worth and not just a day), I’m able to be pushy right back and get a post out of her.
Actually, that’s not true. Paula volunteers it. Right there is why I adore her — she’s not afraid to push me out of my comfort zone and take on some of the work, as well.
This idea of worth is an interesting one. Is it value? Yes and no. Is it something we deserve? Absolutely not. It’s something we earn and embrace. Still, it’s a fine line to walk, the idea of worthy being different than deserving. Hell, even the definition of worthy in some cases includes the word deserving. But I like to stick with the Merriam-Webster definition, which is “having worth or value.”
To me, that’s what worth is. It’s about understanding that you come to this job holding a certain amount of skill, and that clients see value in that. And it’s what Paula is about to teach us — how to help clients see the value. Preach it, sister.
by Paula Hendrickson
Each May we remind one another about how much value we as writers bring our clients. We’re smart. We engage readers. We anticipate client needs and offer viable solutions. As freelancers, we’re a bargain even when we charge $100+ per hour because we’re paid only for the work we actually do, not simply because we show up eight hours a day and squeeze in work between coffee breaks and needless meetings.
We get it. We’re worthy of the professional rates we charge.
Good clients know it, too. Unfortunately, too many companies seeking writers via job boards haven’t yet caught on.
I’ve pretty much stopped checking job boards—except to find new candidates for Lori’s “This Job Not That Job” feature (which seem to get easier to find each passing month)—because most jobs require tons of experience in exchange for sub-professional pay.
While I usually ignore extremely low-paying job listings, this month I’ll be taking action.
How? Easy: I plan to contact the owners of any writing-related websites I stumble upon that list jobs offering sub-professional rates. Websites or organizations geared to professional writers should not be posting extremely low-paying gigs, and I will respectfully request they stop sharing job listings clearly designed to exploit writers.
I hope you’ll join me.
My goal is to encourage people running writing-centric websites to set minimum standards for the job listings they’ll share. I won’t tell them what those minimum hourly or per-word rates should be, but if it were up to me no job ads offering less-than-minimum-wage rates would ever be published on a reputable site.
The next time you see a writers’ group or writing-related website promoting job listings offering pennies per word or demanding well-researched articles for $25 a pop, don’t waste your time replying to the would-be client (exploiting writers is probably part of their business plan, anyway). Instead, contact the people running the website or organization where you saw the ad.
- Ask how they choose or screen job listings.
- Suggest they implement minimum requirements for future listings.
- Explain how posting bad job offers damages their credibility.
- Tell them you’ll give them three months (or six months, or even six weeks if you prefer) to stop enabling the exploitation of writers or you will unsubscribe from their newsletter, cease visiting their website, and/or unfollow them on social media.
Maybe, just maybe, if enough of us take the time to point out how poorly these low-paying job listings reflect on the credibility of the websites promoting them, those site owners will become more selective in the job listings they choose to share.
Thankfully some writing websites already vet job listings, like Jenn Mattern’s All Freelance Writing (https://allfreelancewriting.com/freelance-writing-jobs/), which even notes if jobs pay a Pro, Semi-Pro, or Low rate.
We can’t expect all writing websites to go that far, but perhaps this Writers Worth Month we can help make a couple more site owners think twice before including exploitative offers in their job listings.
Paula Hendrickson specializes in covering the television industry, but also enjoys writing about advertising and marketing, small businesses, food, fiber arts, pets, education…and everything in between. She can be reached via her website, HendricksonWrites.com or on Twitter at @P_Hendrickson.
Writers, have you ever contacted a job poster to discuss low rates? What was the reaction of the poster?
What advice can you give writers just starting out on how to determine what value to place on their skills?