Know your worth as a writer and consultant
Back in 2011, as the wake of the Great Recession continued to spread its damage across the U.K. economy, I lost my job.
Like loads of other content writers, marketers, and PRs, I became a freelance writer. And like lots of other start-up consultants, my rates were too low.
It took a client - yes, a client - to point this out to me. He told me bluntly that I would never earn any real money by charging what I did back then. I've never forgotten those words, and maybe it's no surprise that I still do work for this client today.
Writers are often underpaid
First, the bad news. If you want to earn most of your consultancy income from writing, accept the fact that writers are underpaid for the most part. But that doesn't mean you have to spend your life taking gigs from job boards and other places that pay very badly - so badly that you won't be able to earn a living.
It's unfortunate that writers, photographers, designers and many in creative fields are sometimes undervalued and underpaid. This is especially true in the traditional media industry where the economics of the day mean that mainstream media is still recovering from the impact of the internet.
However, if you want to be an outstanding writer and consultant there are plenty of opportunities out there, and local professional associations as well as online writing communities, will help you find them.
Ultimately, you must find a way of understanding your value and what the market will bear. Somewhere in the middle is your worth.
Calculating your value as a writer
How do you calculate your value? Here are important things to take into account.
- Years of experience
- The type of work you've done
- Ongoing course work
- Active side-projects such, such as a blog with decent traffic, a well-listened to podcast, or a video series
- Related activity, such as answering questions on Quora, or regularly posting on Linkedin or Medium
- The additional value you bring to client work, such as guidance or responding to tight deadlines
- Your a network of contacts who can quickly come on board and support a client's project.
All these things play an important role in calculating your rate, whether it be per project or per hour.
There's one more thing, too. Confidence. And I am using that word to mean a few different things - confidence in yourself and your writing. But also confidence in your ability to succeed and know you that you can add value to clients. With confidence, you can set your rates knowing that they are right for you and your business, as well as the market.
Stay focused on these things and on delivering value and, if you're in it for the long-haul, you will steadily be able to raise your rates and make a living from your craft.