Day 7: Writers, the original humble braggers?

Writers like to tell stories. We create characters that act out lives that are often not different than our own. We use our words in ways that many people simply can’t, crafting a tale that evokes emotion, sparks creativity or fascinates the imagination of a child.

In my case, I tell business stories that convince you to buy, act, or believe – but that’s besides the point.

The point is, a large percentage of us are completely content being ghostwriters, meaning we get no public credit for the work we do. We’re happy being behind the scenes, hidden behind pen names or shielded by a corporate byline.

So what happens when we step out? What happens when we decide to take on the business end of writing and take on clients as freelancers?

We sell ourselves short, that’s what.

Let’s backtrack, here. As I mentioned in my first 100-day challenge post, I’m going to be chronicling my foray into freelance copywriting and editing. While I’ve been writing for years, taking the reins and creating a business of my own has been daunting.

One area of constant struggle for me, and apparently for most writers, comes in setting up our fee structure. I’m always wondering whether my prices are fair, in line with the industry and commensurate with the level of quality I provide.

I got a bit of a reality check today while catching up on some blog reading. In a very pointed and interesting post, Dean Rieck calls us out:

I know that many writers aren’t great with numbers or comfortable talking about money. Maybe it’s because the world has beaten you down until you think you aren’t worth more than a French Fry Jockey.

But whatever it is, we need to get this straightened out, because if I ever meet you and learn that you’re working for next to nothing, I’ll have to kick your ass. Because you’re not only robbing yourself, you’re making things difficult for every other writer out there who wants to make a good living.

I won’t continue too far into his post, but reading it makes me realize that unfortunately, he’s exactly right. Writing and editing come naturally to me, sure; that doesn’t mean I should pretend it isn’t hard work. When people follow what they’re passionate about, its supposed to come naturally – that shouldn’t lessen its value.

I think this post, and many more like it, are a much needed wake up call to copywriters. If you’re not charging what your work is worth, you’re hurting not only yourself, but others in the industry.

So where do I stand?

I’m a firm believer in project costs as a benefit to both the client and the copywriter. I’m also a believer in honesty and integrity, and when I quote you a price, I’ll stick to it.

As writers, it’s our responsibility to provide high-value content and to communicate that value to our clients.

It’s time we all stop humble bragging and just get back to work.

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