I have always, always, wanted to be a writer.
When I was a kid, I filled journals with the ramblings of being a tortured little sister, and then the angsty poetry of my teenage Myspace years. It progressed to song lyrics, poems, book and story ideas, and the occasional update about my life. I have a whole shelf of notebooks, composition books, and journals from over the years.
I am now a writer, and in another post, I will go into excruciating detail about how that came to be, the steps I took, and how it all worked to become a success for me.
I am a freelance writer. In my process to becoming an entrepreneur, I did a lot of research and asked other entrepreneurs for advice, for help with things like invoicing, portfolios, small business tools, contracts, and the big one: pricing.
I have met a lot of young entrepreneurs over the years and they all have one thing in common: big dreams and a bad estimation of their value. Watching Shark Tank is also a great example of people with crazy valuations! They either completely overvalue or undervalue their companies and themselves.
The truth is that your time and your skills are valuable. If it were easy to be a writer, everyone would do it. Just because YOU find it relatively easy to write blogs or create a website or make a logo, certainly doesn’t mean it is.
When starting freelancing, most people tend to undervalue themselves. They might say it is because they are so new, or are trying to prove themselves, or they don’t have a portfolio. No matter what they say, it is normal to try to undercharge when starting out.
I did it, too! For my first couple of clients, I researched average pricing for the specific types of writing projects I was working on, and I put my pricing just below the average.
But those prices didn’t account for the actual time it took me to research and put together the writing, the posting, edits, and client communication. In the end, for my first project, I ended up only getting about $7 per hour, even though the overall price for the article was around “average.”
As time went on, I made sure to increase my prices to the point where I am able to make a good wage for the work that I’m doing. Even for my longer-term or repeat clients. This is something I see a lot of questions about in online freelance forums. You can increase your prices, you just have to be honest. Try something like “I have enjoyed working with you, and as of XX date, my prices will be increasing to XY price. Because of our prior relationship, I am going to extend your current discounted price for one more project/month/etc.”
I had a phone conversation with one of my bigger clients, and we agreed to almost double my price, plus a nominal fee for research time! You really just have to ask. Your clients already like you and see value in your work, and they will understand that you need to be fairly compensated. This is very similar to how you might handle a salary negotiation in a corporate position.
Another thing I see a lot of is questions about sites like Upwork.com and Constant Content, which are sites that take a heavy fee to allow you to bid on work from paying clients, but highly encourage very low prices. Be careful when using these sites, especially about severely undervaluing yourself. Do research on these types of sites before jumping on, and manage your expectations reasonably. Some people do extensive filtering and careful proposals and do well on these sites. I tried it briefly and was very frustrated by the low prices and the amount of proposals on things like “write me 5 blog posts for $6.” For me, these types of sites were not worth my time.
Side note: no matter how much you want new clients, don’t give your work away for free. Legitimate companies that want you to do trial work will pay you for it.
Your work, your time, and your expertise are all valuable. The worst thing you can do for yourself is to undervalue yourself to potential clients. Research average prices for your specific work and your location, and take a cue from that. Whatever you do, don’t be afraid to raise your prices as you get more experience. You are here to make money. Just because you love it doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be profitable!