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Writing Professionally – Have Some Self-Respect

Editor, Author Annette YoungI have been writing professionally for many years. My first tentative steps into the creative writing and freelance writing arena taught me a lot. It taught me that this is a tough profession with ever-increasing demands but as such, you have to treat it like any other work stream and you have a pride in your work. Work hard, work smart and be professional.

Over the years I have noticed a decline in the respect that writers give their work, and worse, a decline in the respect given to professional writers by clients. Quite simply, it makes my blood boil because we, (professional writers everywhere) have collectively allowed it to happen. If you have some skills as a writer, you should get paid for your work. It’s that simple.

I am not talking about people who write creatively because they just love the written word. I am not talking about those who are trying to build up their brand as a writer and dipping a toe in the professional writing arena, and I am not talking about those who are creating their own websites and producing content for it. I worked hard and without pay on my creative competitor site in the early days, but that was for my own purpose. I am talking about those who provide a professional service for clients, writing articles, web content, eBooks or even creative writing.

I am seriously sickened by the fact that writers work for peanuts or less.

If it’s their choice because they wish to target a new niche to add to their writing portfolio, well, ok, sometimes it is a stepping stone. But I am seeing writers accepting 1 USD for a 500 word article.

1 USD for a professional article?

Now, granted, many of these writers are living in countries where the conversion rate is so much better, and for any writer living in an Eastern country, 1 USD is worth vastly more than 1 USD for American, Canadian and British writers or in fact, anywhere where the conversion rate is small. But even so, it belittles the job. I know that financially times are tough, but we have to turn this tide around. Don’t betray your professionalism just for the sake of picking up a job where the client does not appreciate or value your worth. It’s the principle that I am getting at.

I’m a professional writer but I also have a long list of academic qualifications in addiction and stress management and even as a professional, I was offered 3 USD an hour to write a book on stress management. Needless to say, I turned it down rapidly. I am sure the client found someone willing to do it for peanuts but for that amount of money, I really hope he didn’t get a professional writer. I just want ALL writers to get paid for a decent job.

I may be using this as a platform to rant but come on, writers worldwide, let’s unite. We all have to take work that is paid less than what we think it is worth sometimes. Hell, I’d happily double my rates, but as long as I have a fair price for my work, that’s fine. But, unless as writers collectively, we say no to low paid jobs, this industry is going to truly crumble. We all have to live and we should aim for quality of life, not merely scraping by on the basics that clients are prepared to give us.

There is a minimum hourly wage for workers in Britain and yet I know some professional writers who don’t even get that. Writers – I don’t care where you come from, or what your circumstances are, if you can write and with quality, get paid properly. Why work like a slave to achieve a basic wage? Ask for $10 or $15 for a short article at least and get 15 x the money for the same job. Take some time out then with your family, have a quality of life,  but above all, get some self-respect. Show that you care about your writing and you have faith in yourself. Up your rates and sell yourself through your words, not through a pitiful proposal. Get repeat custom by doing a good job, show that you are worthy of a decent paycheck.

Once upon a time, writing was a revered industry, now those days are gone, and sadly, we are letting it.

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One Comment

  1. Allison April 25, 2014

    I totally agree. I worked for silly money when I first started, just to get up and running. However I made a conscious effort to continually look for better jobs and gradually I replaced all the lower paid ones. It is something I still do today to ensure my pay improves over time.

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