Writers - Why You Shouldn't Devalue Yourselves

24 replies
It is no secret that I like writing to earn myself a bit of extra coin. As a student, any extra money I can come across is always much appreciated. I also love the opportunity to further my writing skills, while being paid (it is a great way of improving my academic writing)

What I'm trying to say is that I'm just a lowly student - but I still value my work and time when I take freelance contracts and write for people. I won't write 500 words for $5. I write 500 words for $10. In fact, I won't write 500 words for $20 (unless I get to keep exclusive rights to my work)

If it takes me an hour to write a 500 word article properly, I want to earn at least $30 from that. An average wage of $30 an hour is a good starting point for a freelancer IMO. However, I'm aiming to go up from there to at least $50.

It horrifies me, therefore, to see many writers clamoring for jobs that pay $1/100 words. At that rate, why not just go flip burgers - at least you'll get a hat and some free grub!

If you price yourself in at the "peasant" end of the writing market (or any services market, for that matter) you'll find it impossible to go any higher. The clients you have paying you $1/100 words do so because they won't ever want to pay any better. Even if you were to double your rate to $2/100 words, they would probably drop you as there would be legion other "slave labor" writers willing to take your place.

Instead, sit down and think what the true value of your work is. Be objective - I know I'm not worth $100/hr (yet) but I know I'm worth far more than $10/hr.

If you devalue yourself and sell yourself short, you will NEVER manage to go anywhere.

Break out of the mindset that you have to "whore" yourself out for a pittance in order to ever have a chance of making more money. This is a dangerous mindset that will not achieve anything.
#devalue #writers
  • Profile picture of the author MoneyMaker96
    If you don't devalue yourself at the begging you won't get a job. If you do something for free or cheap, your mostly likely to be refereed or used again. Once your more experienced or have more projects/jobs coming in you can value yourself properly.
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    • Profile picture of the author samjaynz
      Originally Posted by MoneyMaker96 View Post

      If you don't devalue yourself at the begging you won't get a job. If you do something for free or cheap, your mostly likely to be refereed or used again. Once your more experienced or have more projects/jobs coming in you can value yourself properly.
      Sorry, I should have been more clear.

      Giving away a service for free to hook clients is fine. Make it clear that it is a trial for you to prove your worth.

      However, if you simply start off by selling your services cheaply, you will struggle to ever increase your prices.

      Imagine if Fiverr suddenly became Twentyrr - would it survive? Probably not.
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      • Profile picture of the author Joseph Robinson
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        Originally Posted by MoneyMaker96 View Post

        If you don't devalue yourself at the begging you won't get a job. If you do something for free or cheap, your mostly likely to be refereed or used again. Once your more experienced or have more projects/jobs coming in you can value yourself properly.
        Yeah, it's thinking like this that keeps writers at the bottom of the pond fighting with all the other fish for the same food. All the while a small group of us are over on the deep end with more food than we know what to do with. Heck, some of us are even evolving and thinking about heading onto land (writing exclusively for ourselves) .

        Originally Posted by samjaynz View Post

        Giving away a service for free to hook clients is fine. Make it clear that it is a trial for you to prove your worth.
        You'd be surprised, even at the top of the food chain, how many times that just spells out for clients "free article". Hell, it's happened to me twice at $.10 per word. So I don't do it anymore. You want to prove your worth? That's what a portfolio is for. Don't work for free, ever.

        Originally Posted by samjaynz View Post

        However, if you simply start off by selling your services cheaply, you will struggle to ever increase your prices with those clients
        FTFY, believe it or not I started at $.01 per word a year ago. Raising my prices wasn't hard. All I had to do was change a number in my sales copy. Retaining your clients from each level is the hard part. Few follow you.

        Originally Posted by samjaynz View Post

        Imagine if Fiverr suddenly became Twentyrr - would it survive? Probably not.
        If they catered to a group outside the IM market, I think you'd be surprised.
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        • Profile picture of the author cashp0wer
          I agree with most of what you say. I think some people cannot make more than $1/100 or even $2/100 because their writing is just not good enough. Other writers who can write high quality content can demand more if they have the experience, etc.
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          • Profile picture of the author Sandor Verebi
            Those people are willing to pay the price for your quality work, who know how many times they are able to benefit from it.

            Say you write an article for $10 and who purchased your article can be able to make $300 or $3000 from it. Those who are willing to pay you $5 only for 500 words article maybe are not in possession of the money making ability.

            But this is just my opinion, based on experience.

            I share the opinions of Joe and Tina.

            All the best,

            Sandor
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  • Profile picture of the author Randall Magwood
    I wouldn't offer any services for free. You have to value your time and money that much to not go for low-ball offers from unmotivated clients who are afraid of success.
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  • Profile picture of the author BudaBrit
    Randall, I think the idea is you make an offer: If you sign up to my newsletter, you get a free article/plr set/whatever. It's just simple marketing. Someone explained it well in graph form, with something like gift then offer, then information then opt-in, etc., can't remember how exactly.

    Personally, I have samples, and they are enough. If you cannot get an idea of my writing from that, then you don't know what you're reading. Yes, there are some specialist niche's, and I will be adding some niche samples into my portfolio too, but I don't believe that's too much - I do factor research time into my prices.
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    • Profile picture of the author jackwebson
      Offering services for free is a strategy on every business. Even big companies give stuffs for free in order to let people know or try their product much even more.

      Most of the starters tend to hook up clients by providing free service or product since its the part of their investment.
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  • Profile picture of the author johnben1444
    Like I always say, there is no great writer anywhere, the only great writer is the one that goes back to his piece a second time.

    If this is applied, there will be no issue of degradation anymore and you piece can sell for as high as $100 for 500words.
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    • Profile picture of the author Sandor Verebi
      Why You Shouldn't Devalue Yourselves?

      Because people like to generalize. They like to put others into a special box. And they treat you accordingly.

      And if they put you in a particular box they do believe you belong there, then you need to take a lot of effort to escape from that.

      Ergo, you need to know your own value.

      All the best,

      Sandor
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      • Profile picture of the author Tina Golden
        Originally Posted by MoneyMaker96 View Post

        If you don't devalue yourself at the begging you won't get a job. If you do something for free or cheap, your mostly likely to be refereed or used again. Once your more experienced or have more projects/jobs coming in you can value yourself properly.
        Completely, utterly wrong.

        Sure, you will probably get referred or used again - at the pittance you charged. 99% of the clients you get at the low-end of the pool are buying on price, not on skill. They either can't or won't pay more so when you raise your rate, they stop using you.

        You end up constantly looking for new clients, either because they won't pay more or because they went out of business. That's a waste of your time and skill.

        Offering a special is one thing, but don't give away the farm. Make it very limited and have a clear reason for the sale. You want to target those who want a good writer and are willing/able to pay what you're worth.
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  • Profile picture of the author Adie
    In a tightly competitive market where 80% of people are looking for cheap but quality products, I think you should also be smart enough to analyze the situation.

    Cheap does not mean low quality. If I am the customer, why would I pay $20 for something that I can get for $10 with the same exact quality?

    If I am a recruitment officer and there are 5 applicants in front of me having almost the same experience and qualifications, should I hire the one who demand the highest salary and compensation? Why would I do that?

    There's nothing wrong on valuing your self.... It's just depends on the situation..

    Charging smaller cost does not mean you are devaluing your self all the time. It's just a part of marketing strategy.....and there is a secret behind it...
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    • Profile picture of the author simplewriting
      Originally Posted by Adie View Post

      .
      Cheap does not mean low quality.
      Ever been to a dollar store?

      If I am a recruitment officer and there are 5 applicants in front of me having almost the same experience and qualifications, should I hire the one who demand the highest salary and compensation? Why would I do that?
      Because the applicant is smart enough to know what he's worth to your business and is confident in his abilities?

      I used to write a 500 word article for a pitiable price of $1.50 when I first started out. I soon realized that there are better opportunities outside the IM market and quit writing for brokers.

      Charging smaller cost does not mean you are devaluing your self all the time. It's just a part of marketing strategy.....and there is a secret behind it...
      I guess its OK to lower your prices in the beginning and increase them as you build up your reputation in the market. But you will only limit your own potential if you continue writing for minimum wage. :rolleyes:

      There is no secret.

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      • Profile picture of the author Adie
        Originally Posted by simplewriting View Post

        Ever been to a dollar store?
        We are talking about just one product here and that's writing. One product with thousands of different providers. The reason why the cost is different is because the sources are different too...but the same product....

        An American living outside America and enjoying low cost of living can charge lower than the one who lives in mainland US....

        Quality does not solely dictate the cost of any finished product... There are lots of factors...

        Even in fiction novel, there is a standard range for book price per page.
        Let say, because I want to give value to my self and my novel, I charge $50 for every copy of my book. Do you think people will buy (unless of course if you are Dan Brown or John Grisham)?...
        True, there are people who are willing to pay $20/article or more but that's like finding a needle somewhere....
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        • Profile picture of the author simplewriting
          Originally Posted by Adie View Post

          True, there are people who are willing to pay $20/article or more but that's like finding a needle somewhere....
          Not really, If you take the initiative of approaching local businesses and just talk to them about how you can position them as an expert in their market, You will definitely land a few recurring clients.

          I am in the process of writing web copy and other content for a local interior decorator. She paid me $1000 upfront for making her a website, writing the copy and a follow up autoresponder series.

          I currently write for a small group of clients (Outside the I'M niche). Who pay me way more than $20/ article.

          This thread was originally meant to convey a very clear message to writers, Charge what you're worth..

          If they they think they deserve to be paid $1/ 100 words, Then maybe they're right. :rolleyes: But many writers simply don't know where to look and just need a little bit of direction.

          You run a service to cater to clients who want "affordable" content and have writers who are willing to write content at those rates, good for you.

          I did not intend on criticizing those who offer their services at bargain-basement prices, but to simply encourage budding writers to see that there are many possibilities out there and that they don't have to sell themselves short.

          To each his own...

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          • Profile picture of the author Adie
            Originally Posted by simplewriting View Post

            Not really, If you take the initiative of approaching local businesses and just talk to them about how you can position them as an expert in their market, You will definitely land a few recurring clients.
            .

            To each his own...

            Be Awesome
            thesimplewriter
            Well that's clear enough.. I have some long-term clients that pays above average too but in general, I still go with the market trends in order to get along with tight competition.
            But it's everyone's choice anyway....
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      • Profile picture of the author Joseph Robinson
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        Originally Posted by Adie View Post

        Charging smaller cost does not mean you are devaluing your self all the time. It's just a part of marketing strategy.....and there is a secret behind it...
        Originally Posted by simplewriting View Post


        There is no secret.
        You're both right, just talking about different things.

        Adie, what you say is true. But it's only true for part of the market. Non-native English writers and those in foreign countries can do just fine at lower price points. They have (as you pointed out) completely different standards of living than we do. $.05 per word is to a few countries what $5.00 per word is to some of us. They have a different high end market.

        The thing is, this thread isn't talking about them or pandering to them. Rather, it is focusing on native English speakers who are trying to force themselves to compete with these non-native writers who will always have you beat on price. There's no point to it and no reason to do it.

        My advice to native writers who actually have skill? As soon as you are in a stable enough position to move on, let them have the IM/MMO writing market. Let them have WFH at a penny per word. Let them write for the content mills. You aren't going to stop many newbie buyers from picking them over you anyways, since they think of budget and not quality.

        There is literally every other niche, online and offline, for you to go pick up work in.

        How many websites do you see words on? All of them. How many offline publications are still circulating? OK, not many but enough that they are still relevant. Someone has to write them. Why not you?

        And non-native speakers or native writers who live in an economic situation where $.01 per word is enough for a comfortable living? You keep doing you. No one begrudges you. Of course, if you have the talent and want to make the big bucks, that same opportunity to branch out is there for you as well.

        The IM/MMO niche is not the sole place to pick up writing work people, as soon as you realize that the direction of these conversations can change drastically.
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  • Profile picture of the author cloudstrife
    This is a very interesting debate with potential. I'd like to pose one question to the more experienced writers out there:

    So as not to devalue yourself and yet establish a portfolio, how would you advise less experienced writers out there looking to get started? Of course ultimately any writer would like to be paid as much as they possibly can.
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  • Profile picture of the author ChocolateCheese
    I think it's cool to set your own price point, whether it's too high, too low or just right. It's all experience. If a writer sells his services for 1 cent/word he'll probably quickly grow tired of this and either quit or increase his prices, or become a kind of "writing service broker" or anything like that.
    I know a guy who put a very high priced service on his website just to demonstrate that his work has high value. He also had low priced offers. He didn't actually expected anyone to take him up on the high-priced offer because he thought it was way to expensive, but that offer now makes him more money than all the other things combined. But it takes guts to do that in the first place :-)
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    • Profile picture of the author Ashley C
      Hi samjaynz,

      Great thread, and well-said.

      My writing rates are half of what they are outside of the Warrior forum, but the funny thing is that my non-Warrior clients consider me to be low in price, whereas a lot of Warriors find most of my services a tad bit pricey (AFTER the 50% price reduction). Targeting the right clients is key.

      You make a good point about valuing yourself. If you value yourself with confidence, others will value you too. $50 is a great price point, and you'll only get serious clients that way.

      Originally Posted by cloudstrife View Post

      So as not to devalue yourself and yet establish a portfolio, how would you advise less experienced writers out there looking to get started? Of course ultimately any writer would like to be paid as much as they possibly can.
      Cloud, to start with, you should choose a certain type of content that you'd like to write for clients. Some examples are SEO content, eBooks, press releases... once you choose something, you can target the typical kind of client that would regularly need that type of content. You should come across as an expert in it. You can then expand upon the services over time.

      Let's say you decide to specialize in writing SEO content. In this case, you should target SEO companies, Internet marketers, web designers, etc. You can shoot off some phone calls or e-mails to those types of clients and see if you can fulfill their content needs.

      As for being able to charge high rates to them... you do need a portfolio, and just be willing to hold out for clients that will pay your price.

      If you don't have a portfolio, launch a blog targeting the industry your typical clients are in. I provide SEO content, so I blog about SEO, where any reader is pretty much a potential client. Your blog will display your writing abilities and relevant expertise, and it can link back to your own portfolio page.

      Networking is also important. Commit to guest blogging on relevant blogs, and get people to write on yours. This is a sure-fire way to build up big exposure. Get your name out there and the clients will come.
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  • Profile picture of the author imgeek2727
    You can say "Don't devalue yourself" all you want. But the truth is, in an open GLOBAL market, it is all about COMPETITION. Let's face it, PRICE, is a big part of the equation. The lower the price, the better-specially during these hard economic times.

    With that said, you have to remember that webmasters and publishers who eagerly suck up low quality (and even badly spun/software-generated "content") may be shooting themselves in the head as GOOGLE and other search engines are continuously placing more emphasis on ENGAGEMENT, TRUST, and QUALITY than mere content volume.

    It evens out at the end. Guys who buy cheap stuff get penalized or end up not making as much and this pushes them to the quality guys. If you write QUALITY MATERIALS, don't let the fast emerging standard price of .005 cents per word (and sinking) scare you. Find your niche and take very good care of your customers.
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  • Profile picture of the author CyborgX
    There is always some one after bucks besides you. And may be his offer is better sounding than yours. So to cope with the competition you have to advertise yourself and that could seem to be little devaluing but it is not.
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  • Profile picture of the author goindeep
    Totally agree.

    However I would prefer they keep offering their service that cheap.

    Means they get cheap clients. Cheap clients are the worst. They want everything for nothing, they don't pay on time, they argue the service and then they want a refund.

    You get what you pay for.

    If you go from these pricing specifications you would be able to get a holly-wood blockbuster script or a best selling 1000 page fiction novel written for under a thousand bucks.

    The problem is that buyers of these articles have no idea that people don't like reading crap articles. They buy them because they think it's profitable because some guru says it is.

    Little do they know whats just around the corner...
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  • Profile picture of the author 2ndopkate
    It's all about who you target as a customer. Start building up a website with great article samples, offer "free" articles to bloggers with great blogs and leverage those links as proof of the value you offer. Build your reputation for greatness and you'll begin to attract better paying clients.
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