Paul Deines

Pricing my Time and Effort as a Freelance Writer

Valuing my Work – Pricing my Time and Effort as a Freelance Writer

By Paul Deines

When considering how to value your work as a freelancer, it’s worth first thinking about how salaried employees are compensated.

There is undoubtedly something comforting about signing a contract and moving forward at a set annual rate. You know what your biweekly paycheck will be, what time off you can expect, whether you can expect a year-end bonus. You know that, once a year, there will be some type of review when you can plead your case for a raise. Everything is set. You don’t have to worry about negotiating.

You are locked in with your employer, though. They expect you on call (maybe twenty-four hours a day, in our current remote work environment) and, often, the terms of your job description can change with their whims. You might find that the wage you were guaranteed can’t come close to matching the hours you’re logging.

In that sense, the freedom and project-driven focus of freelance writing offers an attractive opportunity to work in the field you love, on your terms. But you have to properly value your work.

Setting Your Rate and Sticking to It

Valuing your work monetarily is a balancing act. You don’t want the bottom-paying clients setting your rate. However, you have to be realistic about what the market will bear.

Since I’m normally taking work on a per-deliverable basis, I think in terms of price per word. It can be difficult to settle on a competitive-but-adequate rate, especially when clients vary so much in their budgets.

I have social media copywriting work that pays about around twelve cents per word. I have commercial blogging work that pays two to three cents per word. I would not go lower than that. It’s important not to negotiate with yourself when looking for work. Pitch at the rate you want, then see what response you get.

 Clarity of Terms

I pitch on words-written, but you can’t measure your work exclusively by word-count. It’s extremely important to set your parameters and terms with a client before signing a contract.

First, make sure you and the employer are speaking the same language. I’ve had many clients frame jobs to me by page count, but there’s a lot of ambiguity there. I always confirm their formatting concept, then convert it into an anticipated word-count. Once we all agree, I can proceed knowing they don’t intend to squeeze extra words out of me for free.

Obviously, any serious writer expects to provide revisions. You have to agree on how many revised drafts you’ll provide ahead of time. To minimize the number of changes on the tail-end, I always send a detailed outline upfront. For longer commissions, I insist the client approve the first chapter before proceeding with the remainder of the piece.

Finally, you need to be honest with yourself about your ability to provide the kind of work the employer wants. Does it require you to do a lot of research? To read a book or multiple articles in advance? Does it involve jargon you are not personally familiar with? Remember that writing a thousand words of high-research prose takes a lot longer than a thousand words originating entirely from your imagination.

Choosing Exceptions and Walking Away

There are times I have accepted lower-paying commissions to gain some experience in particular industries or genres. Building a portfolio and a couple of good testimonials can help to secure better-paid work down the line. However, if you are going to make an exception in terms of your compensation, be sure it provides some non-tangible benefit for you and that the project is short-term. You don’t want to sink days on end into a commission that pays less than your standard rate.

Importantly, I do not recommend taking low-paying work just to establish a relationship. If a client wants to establish a long-term working relationship with you, they should be willing to pay fairly from the start.

Let’s Wrap This Up:

You need to follow your nose. A client whose rate seems too low is generally what they seem: someone trying to get work for next to nothing. They aren’t worth your time. Walk away.

We writers always contend with people offering work for sub-standard rates or, worse, the promise of “exposure.” It’s easy to convince yourself that you can’t demand a fair wage for your labor, but you need to have faith in your abilities. Your words have value. Demand that clients compensate you accordingly.

 

 

About Paul Deines:

Paul Deines is a New York-based writer focusing on beer and culture, sometimes together and sometimes separately. His work has appeared recently in SR-Mag, Brew Studs, and Hop Culture.

As a freelancer for hire, he ghostwrites novels, crafts marketing copy and contributes dialogue for video games and other digital content.

An occasional playwright, Paul’s plays have been performed both online and on stage around the country. In his spare time, he enjoys experimental cooking, classic cinema, watching football, attending the theatre, and constructing playthings for his daughter.

You can read more of his work at his website, The Curiograph (thecuriograph.com) or follow him on Twitter @thecuriograph.

You can also read recent articles by Paul Deines by visiting the links below:

www.hopculture.com

wearebrewstuds.com

Natasha Simmons
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The Importance of a Career Plan for an Independent Writer

The Importance of a Career Plan for an Independent Writer

By Natasha Simmons

Deciding to become a professional writer can be a daunting decision. This career path doesn’t come with a clear-cut ladder to climb. Writers must carve out their own paths that often include lots of risks, rejection, and notoriously low pay with no guarantee that you’ll be successful. However, you shouldn’t let this deter you. You can be successful as a writer, you just have to get creative while remembering that this is your job, so you must treat it as such. You can take many pragmatic steps to turn your dream into a reality. One of the first things you should do is create a career plan.

Here’s What Writers get out of a Career Plan:

With all of the options available to aspiring writers, a career plan is especially beneficial for deciding what you hope to get out of your career and how you can get there. Do you wish to publish a book, a blog, write for a newspaper? There are so many possibilities. Do you envision self-publishing or signing a deal with a publisher? Do you want the help of a literary agent or do you prefer to represent yourself? Each of these paths looks vastly different from each other. If you don’t know what your goal is, you may find yourself making strides that lead in a different direction. You don’t want to put your time and effort into something that won’t lead you to the future you envision. Knowing what you want ahead of time will help you decide what steps to take to get there.

Here are a few things to remember:

Now, you also don’t want to get too hung up on the biggest goal. Knowing what you want is important, but it’s going to take some time to reach that goal and being too hyper focused on it could leave you feeling discouraged. It takes a lot of work to publish a book. But that work can be broken down into smaller steps that are less daunting. By making a career plan, you can better see those smaller steps you need to take to reach your goal. It’ll also allow you to see the progress you’re making, even when it seems like you’re not reaching all the major milestones you want to hit as quickly as you wish you could.

Some Final Thoughts:

Most importantly, creating a career plan gives you more control over your work and career. By deciding what you want, you will have a better idea as to how to reach these goals and make this career path work for you. In a field where many factors are out of your control, this is one way you can take back some of that power and realize you can make this happen if you follow the steps you laid out for yourself. You’ll be better able to celebrate the smaller successes as they come, and you will one day find yourself reaching those bigger goals and better able to appreciate all the hard work you did to get there.

 

About Natasha Simmons:

Natasha’s love of adventure and mystery has led her to explore the enchanting, horrible, and incredible sides of humanity through stories.

Frustrated by the restraints of the real world, she creates new worlds on the page. After getting a bachelor’s degree in creative writing and English at Southern New Hampshire University, she snagged an awesome literary agent, Erica Christensen at Metamorphosis Literary Agency, and signed with Red Adept Publishing. Aside from reading and writing, she enjoys traveling, especially to different countries, and watching murder documentaries. Both are great forms of inspiration.

You can read more of her work on twitter @ natasha_writing and her website, https://natashawriting.wordpress.com/. You can also catch up on her adventures on Instagram @ natasha.writing.

Paul Deines
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Upwork as a Stepping Stone in my Literary Career

A Writer’s Life – Upwork as a Stepping Stone in my Literary Career

By Paul Deines

Where do freelance writers find work? I get that question a lot, and the answer is, of course, lots of spots. There are email lists and journals. There’s certainly plenty of networking, and there are also lots of websites that connect freelancers with clients.

My favorite of these sites, bar none, is Upwork.

A sharp, intuitive platform that includes easy profile and resumé setup, clear job parameters, messaging and work tracking – Upwork is the gold standard for freelancers. Its mobile app is so seamless, I can sometimes apply, draft and submit jobs on my phone. It also provides the best-quality client pool, in my opinion.

Upwork can be an integral stepping stone for freelancers looking to kickstart their writing careers. Here are a few benefits of the service:

 Engaging Another Party

 Writing, by its nature, is a solitary pursuit. Your words may be brilliant, but often you’re the only one who sees them. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Writing alone allows you the freedom to write badly, sloppily … in a word, freely. But there needs to come a time when you present this work to someone else. That might mean a friend or partner. It might mean a writing group or editor.

The very act of handing your words to another person transforms writing from a diversion into something concrete. This is truer still when the other party is paying you. Not to diminish the value of non-transactional feedback, but you can’t deny that a client has a vested financial interest in extracting your best, cleanest work.

Having a good Upwork client is like having an editor who always prioritizes your work and desperately wants to improve it. Even better, a client won’t let you edit and refine endlessly. We writers are all prone to that vice!

Exploring Your Strengths

I’ve had a lot of different jobs in my life. I have worked in the arts, marketing, community organizing, education and the financial sector. I’ve also manned a steam table, a video store counter, and a women’s shoe department. My contention has always been that a wide breadth of life-experience makes me a better writer. So while I haven’t loved every job, I’ve taken valuable lessons from each.

My attitude toward my Upwork proposals is the same. I do marketing, blogs, short stories, mini-novels, and whatever piques my interest. Freelancing through the site has opened my eyes to skills and interests I didn’t know I had.

Every job is an opportunity for personal growth. So, don’t hesitate to send proposals for anything that interests you. You might discover a new strength, which might also be a new writing income stream.

Refining your Portfolio

When you start as a freelancer, your portfolio is razor-thin. Maybe you have some school work or the odd article you got placed in a journal. Sometimes, you find yourself including unpublished personal writing, hoping that a potential employer will read it and appreciate your style.

Of course, the only way to grow this portfolio is to write and have that writing picked up.

Upwork is a wonderful resource for developing and refining the work samples you send potential publishers and employers. Being able to tell someone that the writing in your portfolio was commissioned and compensated lends it an additional air of credibility. The folks that look at your samples will, at minimum, think, well, looks like someone paid for this applicant’s work.

Building Contacts

I have found, time and again, that the clients I write for on Upwork return to me for additional work. The site attracts serious, organized folks looking for quality content. Many draw from its freelance talent pool to eventually take on salaried creative employees. What begins as a series of one-off commissions can become a permanent job.

Moreover, plenty of publishers use Upwork for ghost-writers. This too can be a stepping stone. On more than one occasion, a satisfied client has inquired about my personal writing. After all, they’re happy with the words I produce, so they’re curious about my passion projects, too.

In the end, we’re all looking for regular employment that can meet our financial needs. As writers, we also look for something intellectually and spiritually fulfilling. Upwork is a huge resource to identify and secure high-quality contract employment. Every freelancer should be on it.

 

 

About Paul Deines:

Paul Deines is a New York-based writer focusing on beer and culture, sometimes together and sometimes separately. His work has appeared recently in SR-Mag, Brew Studs, and Hop Culture.

As a freelancer for hire, he ghostwrites novels, crafts marketing copy and contributes dialogue for video games and other digital content.

An occasional playwright, Paul’s plays have been performed both online and on stage around the country. In his spare time, he enjoys experimental cooking, classic cinema, watching football, attending the theatre, and constructing playthings for his daughter.

You can read more of his work at his website, The Curiograph (thecuriograph.com) or follow him on Twitter @thecuriograph.

You can also read recent articles by Paul Deines by visiting the links below:

www.hopculture.com

wearebrewstuds.com

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