I’m new to freelancing. My writing career was born out of the pandemic and a desire for change. I’m not new to writing, though. I’ve been doing that consistently for almost twenty years. Still, when you start a career, there’s a sense that you have to prove yourself to potential employers—and maybe a little bit to yourself. It can be hard to know your worth.
We’ve been talking lately about imposter syndrome. Well, when I decided to make a career as a freelance writer, I immediately doubted myself. I’d never written blogs. I don’t have a writing degree. Never mind my natural writing talent and my ability to quickly and efficiently learn information. Why should potential clients choose me?
Cut to: I actually got work quickly, and it was consistent. But I undersold myself. That was my way of self-sabotaging. I outwardly told myself I could do this and clients would be lucky to get my pieces. But internally, I felt my lack of experience meant I wasn’t worth a fair price.
I really don’t have advice on how to combat this because it’s still a constant struggle for me as I believe it is for other creatives. All I can do is tell you what happened to me that opened my eyes and allowed me to say, “No more!”
Unexpected Title Change
At the beginning of the year, I got COVID. I was too out of it to do much of anything. Thankfully, my one consistent client was very understanding and allowed me to recover at my own pace without fear of missed deadlines.
When I finally felt better, my job had changed. Until that point, I had been writing articles for the client’s website, getting paid per word (not a lot, mind you). But I was suddenly asked to edit existing articles. And I was still being paid per word.
Looking back now, it sounds ridiculous. But I was just happy to still have a job. There were a lot of other red flags, some of which I acknowledged, like when my client decided to take our group off the third-party platform and pay us on his own. I was hesitant but accepted in good faith since he signed a contract. Except, he immediately started straying from the contracted job.
The position was to pay weekly. Yet, I worked for a month and a half without ever seeing a paycheck. The payment threshold kept mysteriously changing. And on top of that, he had a limit to how many words I could add to an article. The most I could potentially make for editing one article was $35!
Realizing My Worth
Finally, it dawned on me how much work I was doing. I wasn’t just adding words to articles. I was cutting out extraneous sections, adding new headings, fixing SEO and readability scores, and researching. But I was only paid for the words I was adding.
I felt like a workhorse. In order to make any decent money, I would have to churn these “edits” out like a factory for hours on end. I initially chose freelance writing because of the freedom it offered. As a mom of two young children, I needed to be able to fit a job in around their schedule, not the other way around.
So, I brought my woes to the group. The wonderful, amazing, and marvelous thing about the Moms Who Write community is feeling validated by other members who get it. This group gave me the kick in the pants I needed to stand up for myself. They acknowledged my abilities and confirmed my worth.
I was able to go back to my client and tell him why this situation was wrong and unfair. He didn’t necessarily acknowledge it, but he did offer me the chance to go back to writing, which made me substantially more money. Don’t get me wrong. Money is nice. But so is a sense of integrity.
Know Your Worth
Freelancing can be a slippery slope, especially if you’re approaching it without a plan as I did. Sure, I did my research, but I also let my self-sabotaging inner voice get in my way. Freelancing definitely comes with a learning curve, but I’m hoping my experience can shed some light so others can learn from my mistakes. We’ll be exploring the idea of knowing your worth in a few more upcoming posts, so stay tuned!
Have confidence in yourselves, writers! You know what you’re doing. You are talented and deserve to be paid a fair price. Stand your ground and demand what you’re worth.
That’s all she wrote.
About the Writer: Brigid Levi is a freelance writer and editor based in the Philadelphia area. She has three children, a husband-child, and a dog. When she’s not freelancing or working on her own writing, Brigid can be found under all the blankets with coffee, tea, or wine (depending on the time of day) and a sweeping historical fiction novel. She hopes to publish her YA fantasy/adventure novel in the near future! Find out more about Brigid on her website.