Stop the race to the bottom, value your writing services
I need an editor … you’ll be rewarded
I need an editor … you’ll get great exposure
I need an editor … fast
I need an editor … I don’t mind paying
I need an editor … willing to pay
I need an editor … for free
If you need an editor … I’ll do it cheap
If you need an editor … I need the money
If you need an editor … I need a job
If you need an editor … I need the experience
If you need an editor … I’m not a great fit but …
All of these comments were taken from Twitter within the last six months. And they all appeared more than once, by different people, at different times and from different countries.
The potential ‘clients’ actually needed video editors, developmental editors, copy editors, proofreaders, copywriters and writing coaches. But hey, an editor is an editor on social media.
Social media is great, don’t get me wrong, I love it, but it does seem to facilitate a race to the bottom. Everywhere you turn there are ‘experts’ who will tell you what you want to hear, potential clients who are in desperate need of help and professionals who are trying to keep their businesses afloat.
It may be controversial (or perhaps it isn’t) but sometimes, as professionals, we don’t really help ourselves. You can see it clearly from the comments above. Creative shaming is something I wrote about last year, but there has to come a time when creative professionals decide what is important in their working lives and start to help themselves.
Stop the race to the bottom, value your services
To stop this awful race to the bottom, and to make it less acceptable to pay creatives a pittance (or even nothing, because, hell, exposure is great), we all need to value our services.
Writing and editing are valuable skills:
If everyone could do it there would be no typos, bad grammar or just plain awful prose in the world.
If our skills weren’t valuable there would be no need for editorial professionals or professional writers.
Writing and editing – the hidden talent
Businesses rely on conveying a message, and that message should be concise, clear and articulate. The creatives behind business communication are often well hidden, but professional writers, editors and proofreaders can make the business more attractive to clients. And that skill has value.
Authors rely on crafting a great story, and that story should be a pleasure to read. The creatives that help behind the scenes are often well hidden, but editorial professionals can make a good story into a great story. And that skill has value.
Embrace your skills
We must get out of the mindset that ours skills are of little value, and embrace our knowledge for what it is – hard graft that comes through years of experience and training. We may enjoy what we do, but our skills have value to others.
Creatives help to make the world a brighter place, and help businesses grow and flourish, so they should be treated as professionals and paid well for their expertise. And that needs to start with the creative professionals themselves. We need to value our skills and help others to value them too.
I’m lucky, I have great clients who value my services. But that may be because I know my value, understand the value of great training and help potential clients to understand what they really need. I refuse to do something just because a client thinks they need it: if they don’t need a service I won’t do it. I also refuse to join in a race to the bottom, even if it means missing out on work.
Learn to say no
If you are a professional creative you are skilful, confident and competent. You are also engaged in an activity as a paid occupation. It is your job.
It can be really difficult to say no when someone needs help, but you have to take on work that pays you enough to settle your bills and buy the odd bottle of Prosecco. If your business has you taking on low-paid work (and let’s admit it, we have all done it), you have to ask yourself if it’s worth it. If you can’t pay your bills it isn’t. If you’re taking on low-paid work because you need a filler you are going to kick yourself when you have to say no to a decent commission, because your time is being monopolised by the job that has you working for below minimum wage.
So, it’s time to fight back. Just because you can help doesn’t mean you have to help.
Your professional expertise has cost you:
Time – you didn’t become a competent professional creative overnight.
Money – for training and equipment.
Even if you are starting out, you have the skills and training. If this is your job, it is your livelihood.
Have the answers ready
It can be daunting to take that leap and decide that from now on you will only work for a decent wage. It’s scary – you may never work again, you have bills to pay, you need to eat. Yes, but it’s a vicious cycle; once you start accepting low-paid work, or you work for ‘exposure’, your mindset follows and you start to believe that you are only worth that minimum wage or that you need the ‘exposure’.
So take a stand. Know your worth. Here are the answers:
I need an editor … you’ll be rewarded (Great, thanks, my rates are …)
I need an editor … you’ll get great exposure (Great, thanks, my rates are …)
I need an editor … fast (Great, thanks, my rush rates are …)
I need an editor … I don’t mind paying (Great, thanks, my rates are …)
I need an editor … willing to pay (Great, thanks, my rates are …)
I need an editor … for free (Great, thanks, but I don’t work for free. My rates are …)
And here is what you should say:
If you need an editor … I’ll do it cheap my rates are …
If you need an editor … I need the money my rates are …
If you need an editor … I need a job I have some flexibility in my schedule, my rates are …
If you need an editor … I need the experience my rates are …
If you need an editor … I’m not a great fit but I would love to expand into this area, my rates are …
This post was originally published on Sara Donaldson’s s blog. Sara is a freelance editor with an eye for a mystery. When not editing a range of projects (mostly non-fiction) she can be found with her Sherlock hat on as a professional genealogist. You can find her on Twitter.