Set your rates with confidence

Set your rates with confidence

There are far too many writers being paid way less than they deserve. What’s even sadder about that stat is that most of them don’t necessarily have to settle for such low rates.

A common mentality that a lot of writers have when they’re first starting out is this idea that starting out equals working for cheap. This mentality is extremely dangerous because it’s far too easy to get stuck in that mentality permanently.

Although we live in a world where sometimes people get stuck in dead end jobs that pay them poorly, freelancing is one of the few opportunities where you’re in the driver’s seat of how much or how little you’re paid.  That’s exactly why setting your rates with confidence is so important.

When I first started freelancing I had no idea how to set my rates with confidence. All I really knew back then is that I was eager to work and I was eager to write, and I’d do anything to do both simultaneously.

You deserve better than content mills and sites like Upwork . Why? Because let’s face it, people’s perceptions of freelancing as “not a real job” come from the dangerous mentality that rates aren’t open to negotiation.

Here are a few ways you can set your rates with confidence:

1) Do your research

Do you know what other freelancers are charging for similar services? Do you know what’s a typical rate for your country, city, town, etc? No idea? well…that’s alright!

Before I posted my starting rates chart on my website I did a ton of research. I used the PWAC what to pay a writer tab as a reference and investigated what the writers that I respect are charging for their services. If you’re not sure what rates are appropriate you should do similar research, in order to get to know what’s typical.

2) Test drive a task to get to know how long it takes you

When I first started blogging on a freelance basis I was lucky because I’d already been blogging both via the jobs that I had in the past and in my spare time. Not only did this help get me work, but it also made me 100% aware of how long it took me to get from draft one to the final draft.

If you’re not sure how long a specific task takes you do a practice round, so that you know how much you need to charge to pay your bills. Don’t forget to add in crucial details like estimated word count, research, etc.

3) Factor in cost of living

The locations of the average freelancer vary so there’s actually no such thing as a universal, “fair” rate. For instance, big cities require higher rates to get by than small towns and rural environments.

Although comparing and contrasting is a good way to determine your rate, you might not want to charge the same rate as someone who lives somewhere where the cost of living is a lot lower.

4) Don’t settle for less

No matter what people say, you don’t need to discount your typical rates to get the attention of your clients. Never settle for less than what you deserve. If someone tries to negotiate a discounted rate, they’re probably not worth your time.

The one and only exceptions are charities and not-for-profits where  you’re offering your services for a good cause. They may not be able to afford to pay you the full price but at least you’re getting something out of it.

If you make a well-informed choice, while choosing your rates, you’ll get the price that you deserve. Still confused about what rate works for you? Here are a few sources you might want to check out for more info:

PWAC- What to Pay a Writer : a useful rates database for Canadian writers of all specialties and prospective clients of Canadian writers

Freelance Writing Jobs for Newbies- Determining your Rates : a blog post by Elna Cain on things you need to keep in mind when determining your rates

How do I Set my Freelance Writing Rates? : a helpful step-by-step guide, on how to set your freelance writing rates. It was originally published on Freelancer FAQs, a resource for freelance writers of all levels of experience.

Freelance Writing Rates: 5 Resources for Figuring Out how Much to ChargeThe Write Life is always a helpful resource when you have any questions whatsoever about professional writing. If you’re unsure about what to charge this post will help you find useful resources on who is charging what rate, and who typically pays their writers.

On a related note…

Are you starting your own business? Do you need help with your web or blog content? If so then perhaps you might want to work with me. I offer a wide variety of blogging and web content writing services for small and medium-sized businesses.

 

 

Do you need a FAQ page?

Do you need a FAQ page?

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) pages are a great way to clear up any questions that visitors might have about your work.

FAQ pages are best for are turning viewers into leads. No matter what, visitors will have questions, and this will help them decide if they should work with you or someone else.

Ever since I’ve taken the Inbound Marketing course, I’ve gone from having a FAQ page that “just happens to be there” to an automatic redirect to my FAQ page, once people fill out the contact form on my site. Why? Because I’m well aware of the fact that anyone that has gone ahead and shared their contact page, will be wondering: “so, what’s next anyways?”

I’ve put a lot of thought, time, and effort into my FAQ page, and it’s one of the most useful resources on my site. If you’re thinking of setting up your first FAQ page, listen carefully to the questions that people often ask, before they commit to working with you. It might be tempting to guess what your customers want, but it’s not necessarily a good idea.

Keep in mind that the best possible questions will vary based on the needs and interests of the people that you work with. Even if Joe Schmoe the competitor gets asked a specific set of questions, customers that are a lot more interested in what you have to offer might not want to know the same things.

Think back to every phone call, email message, or in person conversation you’ve had with a lead. What did they ask you? Did you notice any patterns? Any patterns that you’ve noticed are the perfect material for your FAQ page.

If you’re anything like my average, paying customer then you likely are overwhelmed by how much “stuff” there is to think about. Taking the time to think of questions for your FAQ page will decrease the chances of people reaching out to you solely to ask a specific question. And you want that, right? Well of course you do! You likely would prefer answers that keep the conversation and the money flowing.

No matter what, be open to updating and changing your FAQ page ever so often. Although your customers might have a specific set of questions now, they might have different priorities a year or two from now.

The questions that I find are pretty consistent no matter what, are questions about money, why you’re different than everyone else, and turnaround times. As a result, these are questions that will likely remain on my FAQ page for good. I’m sure that will be the case for you as well, for at least some of your FAQ page content.

I’m a huge advocate for FAQ pages. I think they’re a great way to reassure people of your credibility and trustworthiness. They’re also a great way for people to get to know you a little better. Sure, about pages cover that to some extent, but both types of pages perfectly compliment each other and are a great way to help people get an in-depth overview of your typical work process.

If you’re still unsure about how to construct a FAQ page, feel free to visit my website for more info about my web writing services.

 

What motivates me really?

What motivates me really?

I remember sitting in a restaurant last week with a friend of mine last week, the one we go to sometimes, to have pizza and drinks, and the “motivation” question came up.

I’m also in the process of applying for my dream day job, that I want so badly (don’t worry clients, I’m not going anywhere no matter what the result happens to be,) so motivation seems to be a central theme of this week thus far.

So what motivates me, really? What motivates me to keep spending hours in front of a computer screen, writing for both my clients and various personal projects?

Love, it’s as plain and simple as that. I was at a social mixer last week for a blog I write for, and I was surrounded by other, passionate, creative people, and it was like looking in a mirror at the “me” that started writing in the first place.

The past two years have been extremely transformative. I’ve started a freelance business, worked with so many great companies and websites, and met some really great people in the process.

I also have a starting rate that I don’t plan to change anytime soon, and I’ve got the chance to work with a lot of companies that I genuinely respect. This has given me the courage to approach major publications and companies.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that stubborn resilience and hard work is slowly but surely started to pay off.

Truthfully, a lot of my motivation currently is people-based. I have, and always will be drawn to any opportunity I can to surround myself with exciting ideas, and intelligent people.  I want to keep learning, I want to keep growing as a writer and individual, because that, more than anything is what gets me out of bed in the morning.

My take on the work/life balance

My take on the work/life balance

The Protestant work ethic is something that was definitely part of my upbringing. It’s basically this idea that if you work hard, you will be handsomely rewarded. As I got older, I started to realize that it’s only, kind of true. Sometimes people earn something fantastic, just because they’re somebody influential’s daughter or son. Sometimes people get things because they actually worked really, really hard for it.

I grew up in a work-obsessed culture, and devices like smartphones only made it worse. Suddenly, being able to have a cut off time is a lot harder. Although it’s tempting to always be checking work emails, achieving work/life balance is important.

If you don’t regulate your time, then you’ll go through burnout, and burnout is a horrible feeling. I’ve gone through it too, in fact, I wrote about it for an online magazine.

You’re probably wondering how you can create that sense of self-control, that’s necessary, to also just plain live your life. Here are five tips on how you can achieve work/life balance.

After a certain time, put your phone out of reach

One of the hardest things for me to regulate, when I started freelancing, was how much time I was spending on my smartphone, computer, and other devices. Just like any other freelancer, all it took was one email to change my week, and maybe even grow my income, over the long-term. Understandably that makes spending an evening, staring at electronic devices extremely tempting.

I’ve started to realize that if I don’t put my phone out of reach, after a certain hour, I’ll obsess over my inbox at weird hours. There’s time for work, and there’s time for just plain sharing a moment with another human being, and those activities will overlap unless they’re carefully regulated.

When you take time off, commit to it

I’ve traveled a bit this year, and I’ve found that people are generally pretty accommodating if you tell them in advance that you’re traveling, therefore response times will be slower.  I think one of the most important things people can do, is not be too hard on themselves when taking time off is necessary. In a work-obsessed culture, where work from home options are becoming increasingly commonplace, it’s important to really commit to taking time off, when you get the chance to do so.

Don’t forget to Take Care of Yourself

One of the silliest moments of the 2015 England Rugby tournament was when the cameras picked up on a coach stopping the game, just to say to one of the players:

“Take care of yourself, okay?”

It was comedic because it seemed random, but I also think it was actually kind of genius. I think people, in general, need a reminder every once in a while, that we’re not robots, so it’s up to us to take care of ourselves. If we don’t our work will suffer, because we will suffer.

Things like family, food, mental and physical health aren’t things that deserve to suffer, so that work can improve. Sure, work is important, but so are the basic aspects of survivial.

Access what counts as an emergency

If someone emails you at midnight, you don’t have to email them back at midnight. If someone emails you on your day off, you don’t have to email them back on your day off. If it’s an emergency, that’s an exception, but there’s rarely any need to respond instantly. But what counts as an emergency? It’s up to you to decide.

Last but not least: Eat the Elephant, One Bite at a Time

I grew up with this expression, and it’s freaking fantastic. What it basically means, is that the only way to tackle something big, is to tackle it in bite-sized chunks. Manage your time wisely, and put careful thought into what you’ll do when. This will make large tasks a lot more managable, and work/life balance a lot more plausiable.

So what are your work/life balance strategies? Is this something that you struggle with? Feel free to comment in the comment section below.

As always, if you could use some help with your online content strategy, feel free to check out my website.

No matter what, I want to always keep things authentic

No matter what, I want to always keep things authentic

If you browse my website, you’ll notice that I use the word “authentic,” more than I use any other word in the English language. That’s not just a coincidence because that’s something that I take really, really seriously. I don’t just bring the authenticity levels up several notices because I want to, I also do it because people respond positively to it.

I live in an urban landscape, with a massive amount of concrete high-rises filling the air. Even though I’m used to it by now, on my bad days, I really, really notice how much artificialness there is everywhere I look.

If I turn to my right there’s a billboard trying to sell me something, if I look at my smartphone there’s someone trying to sell me something, if I turn on my TV there’s also someone trying to sell me something. There are far too many people in this world trying to sell something, without making it seem as friendly and familiar as the people I talk to every single day. I see that as a problem, and I want to do something about it.

I also live in a society, where you’re measured based on how nice your car is, and working non-stop is a bragging right. Don’t get me wrong, work is important, and it’s okay to have nice things, but what about the little things, like sharing a moment with another human being, or doing something exciting for the first time?

When freelancing became the most feasible option for me, I wanted to write copy that got people’s attention, the same way, a moment that they truly treasure would likely get their attention. In other words: I was more interested in making content a direct conversation, instead of a process that involves shoving value down peoples’ throats.

If you get nothing else out of this post, I want you to remember this: you don’t have to sell your ideas with conventional advertisements. That’s one of the best parts of this era we’re living in. You don’t have to be a genius at writing, or a professional cinematographer, to do something creative when promoting your ideas.

If you’re trying to get the word out there about your work, I encourage you to take risks and be bold. Use the skills that you have at your disposal, and do something that’s not “just another ad campaign.” People love it when you tell them about your cool idea, in a casual, memorable, relatable way that they can definitely relate to.

If you’re ever really, really stuck, always remember that we can always work together!

5 Things I Wish I knew when I got started freelancing

5 Things I Wish I knew when I got started freelancing

It’s mildly surreal that it’s now officially been two years since I started freelancing, and 7 years since I started blogging.

The cool thing is, even during the-not-so great parts freelancing has taught me so much about myself, and where I really truly belong, in this weird, wacky, and charmingly flawed world. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced that to the same extent as I have as a freelance web writer and blogger.

Not long after the two-year mark, things went from being slow to a bunch of really great, new clients and projects. Honestly, it’s been a period where I can’t help but feel a bit reflective so here goes nothin’, a BS-free list, which reveals all the things that I wish I knew when I got started:

1) You have no one to blame for your rates besides yourself

Writers no matter what they’re speciality is, are always dangerously hungry to get their name out there when they’re just starting out. This leads to this popular assumption, that newbie writers should bite your tongue and accept illegally low  payments from your clients.

Although “regular” jobs offer payment based on experience, this is a circumstance where you’re your own boss, so you might as well be the best boss you’ve ever had! By all means, do pro bono work to build up your portfolio, especially on popular websites, but you deserve a generous raise for your work, and the right client for you will be willing to pay you what you’re worth.

2) Being intimidated by major sites is pointless

When I was seventeen, I borrowed my mum’s New Yorker, and the quality of the work that I read in that magazine was so great, that I was fixated on this toxic belief that I will never be as good as the New Yorker writers that I admired.

A year ago, I sent my first pitch to the Walrus, and even though it was rejected, and I realised how silly seventeen-year-old me ‘s assumption really was. Even though they didn’t accept my pitch, it was a great confidence boost, that I think I really needed.

I’ll always remember that moment because it gave me the confidence to send ideas to a lot of major businesses and publications. I quickly learned that if my work and ideas were good, and my experiences were relevant, major companies and publications were happy to work with me.

3) Other freelancers aren’t your competitors, they’re people that you can actually learn stuff from

Although a unique selling point is what will get you work, you’re not “competing” against other freelancers, in a traditional sense of the word. Even though you’re rarely in the same room together, they’re a virtual peer group and are a metaphorical version of the friendly colleague you can small talk about the latest news, at the company water cooler.

Twitter is a great way to communicate with other freelancers, which is why I’m not ashamed to call it my current obsession. I spend more time on Twitter than I do on any other social media network because the networking and community building possibilities are endless. I’ve also collected better resources from momentary twitter exchanges than I have via other, conventional resource methods.

4) Sometimes the most productive ways to get work done involves changing your environment

Although freelancing often gets the “work from home” label, working from home doesn’t necessarily always have to mean well… working from home. Sometimes I just got sick of sitting in the same chair, every single day, and my focus would be massively shitty. When that happens, all it takes is an alternate environment, or a quick walk around the block to get the ideas flowing like normal.

5) Last but not least: you don’t have to listen to peoples’ opinions about your long-term, freelance goals

This is an important one to end my list with because no matter what, people are going to tell you that you should do something else. Unless they’re willing to be open minded, anyone that’s not willing to get to know what the freelance lifestyle is really like isn’t worth your time.

I feel so lucky to have not only an unconditionally supportive significant other that also freelances but a family that’s freelanced a lot, throughout their careers. Not everyone has that, and I think everyone deserves that level of support, especially in year one, where it can sometimes be a bit stressful.

What do you wish you learned when you started freelancing? Feel free to comment, in the comment section below.

Glad to have shared my experiences with you. If you want to learn more about my work, visit my about page.

 

 

 

 

Here’s how you can avoid sites like Upwork

Here’s how you can avoid sites like Upwork

I’m a freelancer, and I  hate sites like Upwork. My opinion is largely based on the fact that I investigated what it was, during my first few months of freelancing. I signed up for an account and then decided that I didn’t want to bother anymore because I didn’t think it was fair.

There are a lot of sites like Upwork out there. Companies post a project and members bid on the project. Unfortunately, more often than not, the winner isn’t the most qualified but the lowest bidder. It’s basically where companies go that want someone else to complete a project for them for cheap.

I get it. When you’re just starting out places like Upwork can be tempting. They’re this bizarro world, where getting the job is less about experience and connections, and more about offering clients the best deal for the finished product.

It’s also completely unlike the real world because people can get away with rates that are as low as $1 per hour, just because. That’s exactly why you don’t have to use Upwork when you’re just starting out.

Are you tempted by sites like Upwork? Here are a few, great ways to destroy your temptation:

1) Use the connections that you have at your disposal

Take a second to think carefully about your connections. Who do you know, what do they do, and could they use help with anything you’re really great at? Do you want to know how I got one of my first freelance projects?

A family friend I once worked with heard I was just starting to branch out into freelancing and asked me to transcribe video content for a not-for-profit she worked for. The work was dull, it didn’t pay much, but I learned a lot, and it looked really great on my resume. This is exactly why using your connections is so important.

If you don’t have any applicable connections, get the hell out there and meet people! Make some business cards, and network at niche relevant events. Sites like Eventbrite and Meetup.com are a great start, for instance!

2) Develop relevant content on sites like Medium, WordPress, etc.

The best part of sites like Medium and WordPress is the fact that you don’t need anyone’s permission to write whatever you feel like, and you don’t need to know anything about technology to use them. Did I mention they look professional if your work is also error- free? Include a call to action and a bio, at the end of your post, to get the word out there about your work. It’s a great promotional tool, and if you’re a writer, it’s a great way to accumulate portfolio samples that get peoples’ attention.

*If you’re bad at writing, and your niche isn’t related to writing, I offer reasonably priced ghostwriting services, hint, hint…*

3) Always ask for feedback

Once you start to actually do freelance work for others, ask for feedback when they’re happy with your work, then post that shit everywhere: (on your website, on your social media feeds, etc.) Asking others for feedback can be a bit overwhelming, but a formula I find that works, to get actual feedback, is the following:

1) Client says: “good job, you.”

2) You say you’d love to get their feedback and ask questions that force them to talk about you in deeper detail

3) Client says something nice about your work, and you directly quote them

4) Ask for their permission to post the quote online, and then get that shit online, if they say yes, which they often do…

5) Repeat!

4) Have a functional website and social media presence

If you want to get good work, from clients that don’t immediately resort to Upwork, having a great online presence is important. So is including relevant keywords and descriptions, and promoting your profiles as much as you possibly can! Once you have concrete proof that you know what you’re talking about and you’re 1oo% legit, people will happily pay you what you deserve.

Last but not least: just keep swimming. I know I’m quoting Pixar, but it’s true! Building a business takes time and hard work so make up for every “no,” and every quiet period with another pitch or two that’s out in the ether. Good luck to you, and remember, you don’t need Upwork to be a freelancer!