freelancing self worth

How to Value Your Work, and Yourself, as a Freelance Writer

by Maxine Harrison

Unlike having a full-time day job where you can rely on a certain amount of money coming in every month, it isn’t always that simple with freelancing. Being a freelancer requires a lot of resilience, and having a passion for your niche can be useful in the long term. But without a strong sense of the value you bring to the table, you may risk burning out or being underpaid. Through my working relationships, I’ve learnt a significant amount about the importance of valuing my own work as a freelancer. 

Here’s how to value your work, and yourself, as a freelance writer.

Trust in your value

I recently had to discontinue work with a retainer client. I believed in the vision of the brand, but could no longer put up with their frequent, last-minute call cancellations. The lack of respect for my time affected my schedule, and discontinuing our working relationship was bittersweet. 

Throughout the years, freelancing has taught me that my service is not for everyone. I’m no longer offended when a potential client can’t accommodate my rate in their budget it just means they’re not the right fit for me. 

For freelancers at the beginning of their careers, understanding self-worth in regard to your business may not be intuitive. It’s important for freelancers to clearly understand what service they’re offering: Get a clear idea of your hourly rate, your target audience, what your competitors charge, and stand by it.

Accepting client bargains below your value doesn’t help to build the value of your brand. By not making concessions in your hourly rate, you can better build your confidence. Clients who value your work won’t cower to a high rate if they know it’s built on high-quality work.

Practice makes perfect

Freelance creative consultant Abigail Baldwin has been freelancing alongside her twin sister for five years. 

“When we first went freelance, we attended a boot camp to upskill. At this boot camp, we were immediately pushed out of our comfort zones,” she said. 

Baldwin said the leader asked everyone in the room to deliver an elevator pitch. “We’d only been there 30 minutes, so this was a shock!” she added. Baldwin tentatively stood up, whispered her brand’s story and quickly sat down before her knees gave way. “It was so nerve-wracking,” she recalled. 

She noticed throughout her career, she was always selling herself and her services. As it turned out, practicing the elevator pitch gradually helped her overcome that initial insecurity. 

“Now I always have a strong pitch up my sleeve and don’t hesitate to represent myself,” she said. “Previously, I’d attend networking events and hide in the corner.”

The power of connection

As a neurodivergent person, writer, poet and Black history educator, Tré Ventour said an institutional life did not agree with him. So he started freelancing. 

Ventour said he’s found that freelancing allows him to better connect with people. “Frequently, Black people are not able to bring their full selves to work, and that prohibited my ability to fully connect with those around me,” he said. 

Transitioning to freelancing, surprisingly, has allowed him to be himself, without any qualifiers attached. 

“In my education work, this has allowed me to connect with teachers, lecturers, students, and others across society,” he said. “They see the value in my work, which has a personal touch that one wouldn’t get from a big corporation.”

Champion your superpower

Freelance content creator, presenter and speaker Paula Melissa also knows what it’s like to feel value from freelancing. As a trained journalist, she enjoys multimedia, especially digital, which freelancing on a project-by-project basis allows her to explore creatively. 

She added it has allowed her to champion her versatility. “I was always taught that I’m meant to be an expert in one thing, and I really struggled to narrow it down,” Melissa said.

For instance, she found that freelancing spotlighted her flexibility much more than her previous career.

“Some days I’m writing an article, others I’m shooting some portrait photography, and some I’m recording a podcast or even recording a video shoot,” she said. “And in each space, I’m bringing value and I’m hired because of my personality and skill.’’

While abandoning your office job to start freelancing full time can seem intimidating, many freelancers have found the career change to be liberating. Success as a freelancer boils down to believing in the services you provide. Freelancing as a long-term career can be incredibly rewarding when you’re able to explore your strengths in a way that serves not only clients, but ultimately yourself. If you value your work, so will clients.

Maxine Harrison is a freelance writer and SEO strategist with published pieces in The Independent Newspaper, The Stylist and Business Insider. She also has a blog where she helps freelance creatives on their journey: www.remireports.com

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