Writers Deserve More than Minimum Wage, Not Less

You might be surprised by how many job listings on writer-centric websites still offer pay rates that fall way below minimum wage. It’s time writers began holding site managers accountable by pointing out any job listings they see that are clearly designed to exploit writers.

Writers Worth Month founder Lori Widmer has a regular feature on her Words on the Page blog, “This Job Not That Job,” which dissects exploitative job offers and suggests viable alternatives.

This year I decided to take that one step further and encourage fellow writers who see exploitative jobs ads on writing-related websites to ask those site owners to establish and adhere to their own minimum requirements for job listings.

You can read my guest post on Lori’s website.

Countdown to Writers Worth Month

I don’t even remember how it happened. I probably read about Writers Worth Day on LinkedIn or Twitter. But the moment I read those words something clicked. In addition to following Writers Worth creator Lori Widmer on social media, I became a regular reader of her amazing writing blog, Words on The Page.

By the next year I was badgering Lori, saying, “Writers are worth more than a day. How about Writers Worth Week?”

She bit. At some point she expanded it even further into what it is today: Writers Worth Month. (Yet some people still insist on calling it “May.”)

With another Writers Worth Month just around the corner, I thought it would be a good time to ask Lori about how the first Writers Worth Day came to be and how it has grown over the years. Here’s what she had to say.

When and why did you come up with the idea for Writers Worth Day?

It was really a theme of mine since my very first blog post. Every time I would look at job postings, it seemed the payments offered were getting more ridiculous. By 2008, I’d established a more proactive client process, and I wanted to help other writers find that same sweet spot. Too many times, we undervalue ourselves because we think we’ll lose the gig or the client. But that does nothing but keep us locked into lousy-paying jobs. We feel stuck, so we bemoan how “writing is dead” and other false claims because we just don’t know what else could be wrong. I wanted a day that said “I’m worth every penny I charge.” It was a day to embrace the value we bring to the job, and the need clients have of our skills.

What types of reactions have you received over the years—pro or con—from other writers about Writers Worth? Which reactions have surprised you the most?

I’ve had nothing but love come back to me over this. And honestly, it’s not me who should be getting the love. Every writer should be happy with themselves for the realization that they can do better, and for going out and doing it. I’m just the one who started complaining and getting pushy with the idea.

The reactions I’ve been most surprised by include yours, Paula. You’ve really embraced the concept and pushed me to extend this idea to an entire month. And it’s a much, much better way to spread awareness, so I thank you for that. One day is so easily missed (I miss International Freelancers Day nearly every year), but a month people notice (NanoWriMo is a perfect example).

Other reactions include thanks from writers who have applied what I’ve suggested and had success. That makes me feel good. Every writer who does better, who charges a fair rate for their work, makes us all stronger. Each one of us lends credibility to our profession, and the more of us taking it seriously and treating our businesses and ourselves with respect only helps to elevate the profession.

What are a couple things you’ve learned about worth from your guest bloggers or commenters in past Writers Worth celebrations?

I learned how many incredibly talented writers I know. We all learn from each other, and I’m no exception. Cathy Miller taught me how simple communications are often best with clients and colleagues. Jake Poinier convinced me that charging per project was much, much smarter than per hour. Eileen Coale taught me about “lumpy” mail. You taught me about letters of introduction. All of those things and others have elevated what I do, and sharing those ideas with readers have hopefully helped them, as well.

I also learned resilience. Nancy Oliver’s story was an inspiration. I learned what a strong woman she is. Her story shook me to my bone marrow – her husband dying suddenly in front of her – and her perseverance showed an inner strength that I think exists in us all. If you want to succeed badly enough, you find a way.

Writers offer a lot of worth to clients, editors, readers, even each other. What’s the one type of worth most writers fail to see they possess?

Confidence. I wrote about it recently. I see so many skilled writers hesitating. They have the tools, the techniques, but not the confidence to say “What the hell” and just try. I’ve also seen plenty of writers asking questions only to ask them again and again over the course of four or five years. They don’t act. Fear, I suspect, is why. Fear of failure holds too many people back, which is crazy when you realize that doing nothing is failure. Trying and failing is at least forward motion. 

And finally: Do you have any special plans for this year’s celebration?

This year I’m winging it. It’s what I’m doing in my career now, too. Instead of a focused theme, I’m mixing it up entirely – interviews, guest posts, lists, whatever comes to mind. I think holding to a theme is okay, but sometimes we learn so much more from varied content. At least that’s my perspective this year. Next year who knows? I’ll be in a different place, as will our profession and our attitudes.

 

Please be sure to check Lori’s blog, Words on the Page, throughout the month of May for insights and advice about Writers Worth from writers of all types. And don’t be afraid to join the conversation!

 

 

Specializing

Remember last week when I mentioned All Indie Writers founder Jenn Mattern?

To commemorate the 10th anniversary of All Indie Writers, Jenn decided to interview several long-time freelancers to find out how the freelance writing business has changed over the past five or ten years.

I’m fortunate to be one the freelance writing pros she asked to participate. Over the weekend I answered some of her detailed questions, and today she posted the results: Paula Hendrickson on Choosing Her Freelance Writing Specialty.

Not only do I hope you’ll take time to read my answers, I encourage you to read Jenn’s interviews with other writers and browse the site to uncover even more great writing advice.