The Times They Are A-changing (And I Guess I Have To, Also)
Just over a month ago I was let go from my day job. I had held the position for seven years. For eight years before that I was employed by one company. I’m at home when I can set roots in a company and really get to know the place. Now I’m unemployed for the first time in more than fifteen years.
I still have my vibrant freelance writing career and I love every moment of that. The only problem is that, due to the changing economy, the financial realities of personal and small business ownership have shifted dramatically. There was a time not too long ago when a person in need of quality copy would seek out a professional copywriter such as myself and we would come to an agreement on compensation based on length of the project, project type, per-word or whatever the instance dictated. The point is that there were several factors to take into account when charging a client for my time and work. And to receive the quality work one would (rightfully) expect to pay a premium. There is, after all, at least some truth to the adage of getting what you pay for.
Enter the “Gig Economy”.
Enter the era of commoditized creativity.
Enter the era of lower expected prices and heightened final expectations of the consumer.
Enter the era of no longer being able to support a family on freelancing.
I’m not complaining. It may sound like it and (admittedly) I may have lamented over the quickness with which my financial realities were dispatched but I will do my best not to give the impression of complaining. Perhaps I’m overstating the problem but I don’t think I am. Freelancing is still a viable option of support for many writers but since I have five other mouths to feed (not to mention the cats) it simply isn’t for me. I have tried every way of looking at the numbers and given my current client list and workload the compensation I am going to receive in the coming month or so will be roughly half of what it would have been as recently as two years ago. The assignments have not changed much but the mindset of the customer has and that is where the hurdle lies. So how does one prove their worth and justify cost in the current climate? Frankly if I had the answer to this I wouldn’t be writing this.
It is easy enough to keep the clients I have established over the years. We have forged relationships that go a long way to keeping them coming back for more of my services. They understand that you get what you pay for and a premium service such as mine comes at a cost. The new clients, the folks who maybe haven’t used my services before but found my samples online or were directed to me via a friend, are the sticky wicket. I love meeting new clients and creating new projects that we can both be proud of but one of us has to bend when it comes to cost. And like many small businesses that bending will be on my end.
The one thing that will never change is the quality of work I produce. Just because I can’t charge as much as I once could or am focusing on smaller projects doesn’t mean I can or will hold back on the final project. There is no excuse for subpar work. I have always been proud of my writing and that will be a constant for as long as I am breathing.