Savvy Budget Girl

The Truth About Low-Paying Freelance Gigs

July 07, 2021 Wendy Coop Episode 3
Savvy Budget Girl
The Truth About Low-Paying Freelance Gigs
Show Notes Transcript

Have you ever wondered if you should take that low-paying freelance gig to build your portfolio? Is it tempting because you think if you do it quickly you'll make more money?

In this episode, I dive into the truth about what it's really costing you to take those low-paying freelance gigs.

Resources mentioned in the show:

Profit First by Mike Michalowicz audiobook:
Think Media Podcast
Shannon Mattern's Pep Talks for Side Hustlers Podcast

Get your free money tracker:


Welcome to the savvy Brown Girl podcast with Wendy Coop your number one destination for personal finance and entrepreneurship for savvy women. Good day, and welcome to another episode of The savvy Brown Girl podcast. As always, I'm your host, Wendy Coop, and we're talking today about freelance writing, or freelance work in general, and rates, and how you can avoid the low rates. This topic was actually inspired by a post in a Facebook group, not my post a post I read today. And in the post, it was a freelance writer who wanted to know if two cents a word was too low to write a particular article. And the consensus among most people was Yes, it was too low, because it's only two cents a word for writing 1200 words she would have made $24. And the client said that they wanted very specific and detailed research and had all of these crazy demands. And I remember thinking to myself, it's always the clients with the low budgets, who asked for the most, right, so if you're a freelancer, and you, you have had this happen to you, I'm sure that you can resonate with the feeling of saying, yikes, don't take the low number. But then I also saw some comments that were very interesting. And those are the comments that I wanted to highlight today. You see, there's this false belief that if you're starting out, you should just take whatever people offer you. And people will say, well, we all have to start somewhere. Or I'm new to being a freelance writer, or I'm new to being a photographer, or I'm new to being a website designer. And while that may be true, if in taking the low rate, you only end up making $8 an hour, $10 an hour, $5 an hour, or you actually go into the negative to take this project, did it really actually benefit you? After all, if you were just going to basically work for free, you could have worked for free. Here's the thing, if you're in the United States, and and I'm going to say this doesn't really matter where in the United States you are, but if you're in North America, if you're in the United States, and you're taking freelance work, at less than $20 an hour, you are not charging enough likely. And don't get me wrong, I'm not saying charge by the hour either. But what I'm saying is, is that as a freelancer who runs her own business, and has expenses, you likely need to charge more than $20 an hour as an effective rate for your services. Now, let's go back to our freelance writer, for example. So let's say it takes her two hours to research and write this 1200 word article. Well, she's only going to get paid $24. So it took her so she's getting paid $12 an hour. And you might say, well, when you $12 an hour is really not that bad. Is it? Is it though, considering she's got to pay for her own health insurance, she's got to pay for the tools that she uses in her business, the internet, the phone, the zoom account, all these things, you know, there are expenses that go along with it. But quite frankly, I bring that out because at $12 an hour, she would have made more working at Target. I mean, come on, target pays you $15 an hour and that paychecks pretty regular. So if you can get paid more working at Target, why would you take less for a business doing something that you love to do? Well, you know, Wendy, it's just not going to take that long to write 1200 words, maybe she can get done in an hour and she'll pocket the whole $24. Maybe she still got to pay taxes on that. You know, we don't know how much she's going to make in the course of the year. But again, if you are looking at your actual business expenses, and you're looking at how much you need to get paid in order to have a profitable business. And let's say you use the profit first model, which is a great book by Mike mccalla wits. I'll put a link to it in the show notes in the profit first model, that she would take half of that $24 and pay it to herself. So she really didn't make $12 an hour Did she? She only got paid $12. So now we're still looking at that 12 $100 1200 word article and say, Hey, was it worth it? Was it worth the extra client demands? The extra revisions? Because let's face it, a demanding client like that is probably going to ask for revisions. So now it's going to take her longer. But Wendy, I'm sure that at some point you took low paying writing jobs. Oh, yeah, I did, because I had no idea what I was doing. But that's why I am recording this podcast episode. So you don't make those same mistakes. I took two hours to write a blog post, maybe it was about 600 702 boards. It was a ghost written piece. And I was paid $75. Now, while that is more than our example, today, there were still two rounds of revisions. And it took over the course of one or two days to actually get this done, all for $75. And you're like, well, that hardly seems worth it. You right, it really wasn't worth it. And I don't even use that piece in my writing portfolio anymore. Because it's so old. If I'm going to write for free, I can post with more authority on sites like thrive global, addicted to success, good men project in a variety of other places where at least I'll get a quality backlink. But to take $24 for 1200 words, I think is doing yourself an injustice. Not only that, but it teaches that particular business owner, that that's all your writing is worth, you are more than just a person who puts words on a page, even if it's a virtual page. Okay, just like if you are a web designer, you're more than just a pixel pusher. You're writing your web design, your photography, solves a problem. And the bigger the problem that it solves, I learned this from a mentor of mine, the bigger the problem it solves, the more you can charge, because now you're not charging based on a commodity or or an output. It's not that you wrote 3000 words, or that you created a website. It's what that piece of work does for the business owner, or the entrepreneur. So maybe you wrote 3000 words, but that 3000 words, is the ultimate guide to starting a blog. And they're going to use that to bring in massive amounts of traffic to their website, or they're going to build their email list with it and their email list is going to provide them with a huge return on investment. If you put it in that kind of context, then you have to ask yourself, okay, then how much is it worth, to the business owner to have something that can convert in to money? So if you're increasing the bottom line of a business through your freelance writing, or your website design, we'll just stick with those examples. Because those are the ones I know the best, then why would you charge because you're only designing a website, we need to get out of that mentality, that that's all you're doing. If that's all you're if you really think that that's all you're doing that just charge $500 for a website. You'll find out though, that in order to have a livable wage and the lifestyle that you want, you're going to have to create a lot of darn websites, and you're going to burn out, and it's not going to be fun. And you're going to quit the same thing with taking a low paying freelance writing job and saying, Oh, I can write 1000 words a day and turn out these articles one after another after another. And often it's not 1000 words a day, it's two or 3000 words a day, and you need to be done every 24 hours, like in a content mill. And the pay is not worth the time and the aggravation, and the research that you're putting into the article. People say know your worth and charge your worth. And I find that is very vague business advice. I say charge according to the numbers. You need to know your expenses. And you need to know how much you need to charge in order to make a profit to live the lifestyle that you're aiming for. So in other words, like my friend Shannon says, What is your minimum baseline revenue for for the month? What is it that you need to earn? And then what do you need to sell in order to get to that revenue. So if you're a website designer and your minimum baseline revenue is $5,000 a month, because that's that is profit all you need if you're going to pay yourself like that. $1,000 that's all you need? Well, you still have to account for taxes, you still have to account for the tools that you use, you still have to account for subscriptions and hours that aren't billable. So then the question becomes, at what price? Do you sell your solution wrapped up in a website, so that you can earn the $5,000, that you need to take home in order to hit your minimum baseline revenue. So that means you're not going to build just one $5,000 website or to 20 $500 websites, okay, because you need to generate more revenue in order to bring in the correct amount of profit. Because you have expenses, you have overhead, you may have a team that you want to pay payroll for, you may need a new website yourself, you may need a new computer. All these are things that are paid out of the business expenses and must be accounted for when you come up with your rates. Don't stress out over this. If this isn't to say, you know, coming up with your rates is a perfect science, and you're going to get it right down to the penny. But what I'm saying is that, you need to have a good idea of where you're going. Another friend of mine, Heather Torres, of the THiNK Media podcast often says what is your shortest path to revenue, and be open to the fact that your shortest path to revenue might be a part time job. So while you may want to do website design full time, or you may want to do freelance writing full time, if you're not charging sufficiently, or you're not finding the jobs, or gigs that pay what you need, then you may have to get a job to supplement the income. And there's no shame in that. And that's why I mentioned target. At the beginning, you could substitute in Amazon, you can substitute in Walmart, gosh, everybody is hiring. Okay. Everybody is hiring. It is July 2021 when I record this episode, and I see wanted help wanted signs everywhere. So think about that, as you contemplate taking a low rate just to build up your portfolio, because I've taken freelance writing jobs and web design jobs where no one asked for my portfolio. So also don't buy into this false dichotomy that you have to have a portfolio in order to get clients you don't. And we can actually talk about it in another episode about how as a freelance writer, you would go about getting published when you don't have a portfolio. And it is possible guys, it is possible to gain clients it is possible to get paid well without taking sucky, low paying soul sucking jobs. Okay. If you have any questions, gosh, just find me on Instagram, you can DM me, I'm at Pastor Wendy Coop on Instagram. Same on Twitter. And remember what gets measured gets improved. So if you don't know where your money's going, that's just not going to help you get better at winning the money game. So remember to go to tracking my points comm and download your free money tracker so that you have a better idea of what's coming in and what's going out. That's all I have for you today. Thank you so much for joining me on this episode of The savvy Brown Girl podcast. I will see you next time.