Are you undercharging your writing?

Reading time: Less than 1 minute

This is my weekly installment of “writing about writing,” in which I scan the world to find websites, books and articles to help other writers. Today I discuss a blog post on undercharging your writing….

Few topics make freelancers more nervous than their rates. I know I hate raising my rates — I hate even thinking about it — but I review how much I charge at least once a year, to make sure my rates still makes sense and that I’m at least keeping up with inflation.

If you have ever been reluctant to look hard at your rates, or if you’ve put yourself in a lousy position by undercharging your writing, I suggest you read a spine-strengthening blog post by Haneef Davenport. Running under the headline, “You’re a Professional SO ACT LIKE ONE,” the piece provides a logical framework for justifying your rates.

Davenport makes the following useful points:

  • Employees are paid simply for showing up for work. Freelancers are not.
  • Freelancers often work many, many non-billable hours on tasks such as planning, advertising/marketing, networking, follow-ups, bookkeeping, software updates, and studying.
  • Freelancers don’t receive paid leave, sick time, vacation time, and sometimes even travel stipends. Your fee needs to make up for these shortcomings.

Businesses that hire you get something different (and more valuable) than employees can offer. These businesses get outside eyes, a fresh voice and, often, someone who is willing to work evenings and weekends — times when regular employees aren’t available or would charge overtime.

Don’t make your own life more difficult by undercharging your writing. It’s not fair to you and it’s certainly not fair to the dozens of other freelancers out there in the world, some of whom are trying to earn a living wage from their work.

I don’t like the design of the webpage on which Davenport’s post appears (it looks too busy to me and the ads appear to be a bit of a hodge-podge), but her message is solid. If you are undercharging your writing, you’re making a big mistake.