Are Freelance Writers Valuable?

Like pro football players, freelance writers possess a unique skill set.

I can't throw a football the right way to save my life - but I can write web content and press releases like nobody's business.  Reggie Bush might suck at writing web content; that's okay, because that's not what he gets paid for.

What makes freelance writers

We provide services which others don't have the time, inclination or skills to do.  It's that simple.  I have no desire to build a house, but some people are just cut out for construction - they're good at it and they command a fair wage.  Similarly, freelance writers should be paid a fair wage for what we do. 

The more you know as a freelance writer, the more valuable you become; in turn, your rates should reflect the extent of service you provide.  Your value increases based on:

  • SEO knowledge

  • your grasp of mechanics

  • your experience level

  • your "readability"

  • your professionalism

  • what you feel your time and skills are worth
Underestimating yourself

I know a lot of freelance writers who underestimate what they're worth.  When you're trying to figure out how valuable your services are, don't forget that your skills are unique.

Why would someone hire you to write for them?  They don't have the time, inclination or skills to write it themselves.

You should charge your clients a fair rate - but don't be unfair to yourself in the process.  Part of being fair to your clients includes providing them with real value; if you're not an SEO expert, don't market yourself as such - but do go out and learn everything you can about SEO

Who devalues freelance writers?

Freelance writers are valuable - don't let anyone tell you otherwise. 

Condescending job postings try to tell you that every day; I've seen wannabe sweatshop employers write things like: "Must be native English speaker, if not don't bother to apply because I don't want you wasting my time. My content requires 500 words and its very easy to write so don't waste my time offering to do it for more than $2.00."

(Seriously, I've seen that.  I'm sure if you've spent any time on the job boards for freelancers, you've seen things simliar to that ridiculous post.)  That guy is devaluing freelance writers by saying:
  • "its very easy" - first of all, it's not very easy or he'd be doing it himself, and he knows it - but he's trying to convince writers an hour of their time is not worth more than $2.00.
  • "wasting my time" - he sounds like a nightmare client, doesn't he?  He thinks that writers who charge more than a fraction of a penny per word are wasting his time because we're over-priced.
You know who else devalues freelance writers?  Freelance writers.

Sometimes we underestimate what we're worth - sometimes it's accidental, sometimes it's not.  Haggling with your clients is one thing, but if a potential client says, "There's no way I'll pay you $50 for 500 words - let's not limit ourselves to word counts, deal with contracts or have it cost that much," and you accept... you're devaluing yourself.  (I had a potential client say all this to me, and I told him I wouldn't work for him.)

I'll say it one more time: you have a unique skill set which is worth fair compensation.  If your clients wanted to write it themselves, they wouldn't need you.  If you don't want to (or can't) grow a vegetable garden in your back yard, you go to the grocery store to buy your produce - and even if you don't like the fact that you have to buy lettuce, that doesn't change the fact that you need it to make a salad... and the shopkeeper isn't going to lower his produce prices just because you're angry about having to buy it.

The shopkeeper has lettuce out the wazoo... you have writing skill out the wazoo.  That gives you the power to determine your freelance writing fees and actually earn enough to make writing a paying job.  Stop devaluing your unique skills and recognize that what you have is in demand!

"House Framing with Builders" image courtesy of Melodi2 at

© Angie Papple Johnston, 2010; if you are reading this anywhere but on or without my name as author, it's stolen.