You Get What You Pay For

Fat Joe and Lil Wayne: voicing the plight of the freelance writer since 2006.

Hey, you. Yeah you. Why you gotta be so tight with your pocketbook?

I’m talking to the business owners out there. We writers understand you’re careful with your money. We understand that you’ve set aside a strict budget for marketing.

Next time you plan your marketing budget, remember: you get what you pay for.

I’m not just trying to pad my own wallet here. (Okay, maybe a little.) But right now, with the state of the web the way it is, you need content. That content should be high-quality. It should take SEO and digital marketing know-how into account.

If a writer doesn’t understand his or her value, he or she probably hasn’t been writing very long. And if they haven’t been writing very long, they probably won’t produce high-quality content. If you want to give your cousin’s nephew’s boss’ illegitimate son his start in writing, that’s great! Thanks for supporting young writers. But if you’re skimping on quality writing to save a couple bucks, you may be shooting yourself in the foot.

And writers: stop undervaluing yourselves. Writing is absolutely crucial to start-ups and enterprises alike. If they aren’t willing to pay you a fair market price, walk away. You have projects in your portfolio, and you live to write another day.

Whenever you writers start considering lower pricing, read the great anecdote at the top of the page here. Reprinted below for convenience.

A well-known freelance ad writer stopped in at the shoot for a commercial he scripted, just to press the flesh. It was a big-time film production, with a huge crew and the requisite bevy of agency and client hangers-on.

He watched as the on-camera talent endlessly repeated a fairly pedestrian line she was having an uncommonly hard time interpreting.  As costly shoot time dragged on, the agency account executive and the client pulled the copywriter aside. ‘This is costing us a fortune,’ they said. ‘Could you come up with something that would work better?’  The writer nodded, grabbed a pad of paper and walked over to a dark corner of the studio. A few minutes later he returned and handed the account exec a sheet from the pad. The AEs face immediately brightened. The client read it and pronounced it brilliant. The talent delivered it flawlessly, thus saving the shoot.
Later at the wrap party, the client spoke to the writer. ‘Of course, I expect you to bill me for your work. How much will you charge?’
‘That’ll be $1200,’ said the writer.
‘$1200?’ the client exclaimed, ‘Why, it took you only three minutes to write!’
The writer fixed him with a firm, confident stare. ‘Buddy,’ he said, ‘that took me twenty five years to write.’
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