Picture two freelancers, if you will.
One is making $20 an hour, barely able to pay bills, and has no free time at all. She fills up her hours with writing and whenever possible, marketing for new work. She’s got so much work piling up, she barely has enough time to stay on top of it, let alone search for new clients.
The other freelancer is making $50 an hour, takes on work that she likes, and is, in broad terms, happy with her career. She still wants to grow more, to a point where she can charge $100-200 an hour, and she makes sure to create time in her schedule to market to those clients and build towards that.
A client wants to hire a writer and comes across the websites of our two freelancers. The client sends an email to both writers and asks if they’re available for work at $15 an hour for five hours a week.
The first writer has no time at all, none whatsoever in her day, but she can’t afford to say no to easy money. So she says yes. She moves things around, goes to bed later, gets up earlier, and somehow manages to fit this assignment into her schedule.
The second writer passes. It’s below what she’s used to getting paid and even though she’s got a lot of free hours, she’s making enough per hour that she doesn’t need to decrease her rates so substantially.
The client hires our first writer.
Now a second client comes along and finds the same two writers. This client has a budget of $100 an hour and emails the two writers.
Here’s what I see happening all the time: Our first writer is now beyond overwhelmed. There’s a well-paying client that she wants but in order to fit this client in, she’s basically going to have to give up not only her free time but sleep, health, time with family, etc. She can’t afford to say no, so she says yes.
The second writer says yes, too. She’s been working towards getting a $100-an-hour client for a while and now here is an opportunity to prove herself.
If we assume that both writers have the same skill-set, which writer do you think is more likely to perform better on the assignment? Which is more likely to stand up for herself when things go wrong? Which writer is less likely to burnout or make silly mistakes because she’s working on four hours of sleep a night?
Do you know what would have helped the first writer to not get so overhwhelmed, overburdened, and actually make a higher income?
Saying no. Turning down assignments. Setting a minimum rate and refusing to take anything below it, even if it felt scary at the time.
Can you see how a cycle of desperation and low pay is likely to perpetuate itself?
Do you see how easy it is for freelancers to think they’re making the right logical choices, but actually be making ones that are detrimental to their future prospects?
Ever found yourself in this morass of overwhelm and low pay? Rest assured, a better way exists.
I teach it in my book The Freelance Writer’s Guide to Making More Money.
Check it out here: