Monday, February 15, 2010

Lessons I Wished I'd Learned Sooner

I saw an interesting post on the Urban Muse about those lessons you wish you could have told your younger self, back when you were just starting out as a freelancer. I have a lot of things I wish I had known sooner--not just about freelancing, but about life. Here are a few.

Know the value of your work. This is so important. As a freelancer, I have marketable skills that others don't have. Marketing writing isn't something anyone can do--and it's not a job for your babysitter who's an English major or your summer intern. You need an expert. Charge like one.

You set the terms. You know what business terms work with your company. Even if a client gives you a contract, you can still modify it by introducing your terms into it and questioning points that don't work for you.

Preach to the converted. It is so much easier to sell your services to people who already know how to work with freelancers, understand the terms and expect your costs. Enough said.

It's OK to say no. You don't have to take every assignment. You don't even have to take every revision request--if what the client wants is wrong, it's OK to explain why you advise against that change. Most of the time, when I do this, clients listen.

What do YOU wish you knew sooner?


Unknown said...

Yay! This is a terrific post, Jen. From valuing your work to saying no, I totally agree. And I love the "preach to the converted" idea. It's so much easier to work with clients who understand how business works. It's just too frustrating trying to teach new business people why the hell we deserve a fighting wage. I mean really - don't they deserve one? Then why shouldn't we?

Susan Johnston Taylor said...

Great post, Jennifer, as always. This is precisely why I stay away from content mills and bidding site. Those "clients" are not convinced of the value of my work, so why spend time convincing them otherwise, when I could be working for clients who already get it?

Jennifer Williamson said...

@Thanks, Lori! It is so true--selling is so much easier when you're not TEACHING people the value of good copywriting. It's such a frustrating process then.

@Susan, I totally agree. There are always going to be companies that don't understand the skill and work involved and will just want to pay you what they think it's worth to "type up some words." There are plenty of companies who know it's not that simple.