Friday, February 26, 2016

These May Be the Dumbest 4 Words a Freelance Writer Ever Heard

...and Mikey's about to Show You Why They're so Dumb!

Mikey is Mad at 4 Words
I felt compelled to write this quick post in regards to a particularly irritating and utterly useless piece of advice many freelance writing experts use to answer a very important question. And you'd almost be convinced the experts actually helped struggling writers if the too often uttered phrase wasn't the most worthless, confusing and potentially damaging combination of 4 words a freelance writer trying to make money online could ever have the unfortunate luck to read and believe.

It's used so much by so many experts in this industry that an individual (like me) may begin to question their own mental state.

Have I suddenly dropped to a 3rd grade reading comprehension level and am now unable to read between the lines?

Is this dumb-ass phrase actually hiding some profound secret that I am incapable of seeing?

After realizing just how many people actually believe (pretend to believe?) that these 4 words are the best answer one can give a beginning freelance web writer, I seriously took some time to ensure I wasn't missing something or overlooking an obvious positive trait.

I wasn't. It really is the dumbest shit I've ever had the bad luck to read over and over, again and again, from this writer here, that one there and as the main headline of a post that old dude writes every year.

Another thing that confounds me, as a content manager, is how important fresh content is nowadays. I'm constantly looking to get rid of stale, overused phrases and cliches that Google could penalize.

So why do people claim expertise in this freelance writing business while using a phrase that isn't helpful in the best of times and potentially detrimental in more ways than one? I've never called myself  an expert, but maybe I should self-proclaim right on up with the best of them considering their lack of... well, anything expert.

 And not for nothing, but they use this 4-word phrase as though it's straight from the mouth of God and as close to a divine answer one will ever receive. That may be why it pisses me off so damn much.

Are you screaming at this post yet? Are you demanding to know what phrase could irk me so much?

Well here it is. The cheekiest of writers love to format the delivery like this:

"How do you know what to charge as a freelance writer?"

(I Hate these opening questions almost as much as the 4 word phrase itself Without delving too deeply into my own messed up mind, I am pretty sure my unbridled hatred for a few words begins with the way the question leaves the reader expecting some profound revelation but all they get is:

"Earn what you're worth!!" 

If I hear that phrase one more time...

(Even writing that made my skin crawl. I'm going to take a scalding hot shower and wash these dirty, dirty hands with a wire brush. I won't cry though. I will not shed one tear. Well, maybe just one.)

So... Earn what you're worth, huh? That is just plain awesomeness, right? Pure genius. I mean please tell me I am justified in my anger. Perhaps you need to see how many freelance writing experts use this as their go to answer when asked how to determine rates.

Like this dude. (Don't follow his tips, please)
Or this chick. (Don't follow her tips, please)
Even when they try to give deeper advice, it usually falls short of helpful.

But once in a great while a true expert comes along and turns even the dumbest phrase into a great read. (Even though he uses those 4 hated words, he gives pretty solid tips on negotiating raises and earning top rates.)

If that doesn't convince you, please tell me why in the comments or just leave now before I pop a blood vessel in my forehead.

Because really, regardless of what you or you or even you might think, it's hands down the 4 stupidest words I have ever had the unfortunate luck to read over and over in the main body of dozens of different posts written by several different people.

And those people are unfortunately the lazy freelance "experts" we're stuck with in this industry. Instead of coming up with helpful answers to common problems, they'd rather steal from one another anything that even remotely sounds clever, even when it doesn't. I'm also pretty sure that providing value to the reader was never as important as it should always be. And that is the ultimate travesty on their part.

So, if this phrase is so stupid, how would you fix it, smart-guy? 

You know what, I am glad you asked! A really easy way to do it is by adding a bit of your own hard earned knowledge to the end of those four words like this:

"Earn what you're doing these 3 things."

Holy spam cakes, Fatman!! Now that might actually be something worth reading!

Yea, especially if those 3 things are all tried and proven by you and answer the question in an easy to understand fashion.

Better yet, dump that entire cliched sack of shit and create something entirely new and unheard of.

I ain't trying to brag but the advice recorded for your benefit below will be far more helpful (and worthy of at least a little plagiarism from one or two "experts" at least) than whatever the hell "Earn what you're worth!" is supposed to mean.

My advice for your convenience(This rate calculator will help you tremendously):

  1. "First things first, with pen and paper or keyboard and screen, calculate what you need to earn so you can live a life of luxury. This will be your top dollar figure and the rate you'll always strive to get when starting most negotiations. If you feel slightly uncomfortable, then you're right on target"
  2. "Now,  figure out the lowest possible amount that you can charge and still pay for life's basic necessities. This is your rock bottom rate. You never work for anything lower than this figure. If you can't get a client to agree to pay at least this amount, then you walk away without a second thought."
  3. "Once you have those two numbers, your basic strategy is to strive for a rate as close to your top dollar amount as you can get. However, be ready to adjust your rate within the limits of those two hi/low figures and always walk away if your bottom dollar cannot be met. 
  4. "By following this strategy during every negotiation you will have the flexibility to adjust rates depending on the clients needs and budget."
  5. "Firmly establishing those high/low figures in your mind will ensure you're striving to earn top dollar with every negotiation while knowing when to walk away from a client unable to meet your basic monetary needs."
  6. "While my advise isn't nearly as concise as "Earn what you're worth!" it does offer at least a few tips that my own experiences have proven effective. This approach encourages a flexible range of rates that make negotiating far simpler than being rigid and stubbornly set on a single number."

"The best part about that low ball figure is it let's you know when it's okay to walk away. If the client can't afford your lowest rate, then you cannot afford to work for him. It's as simple as that. That amount isn't some arbitrary number you came up with out of the blue. It represents the line between success or failure, fiscal freedom or income incarceration. Once you have a bottom line amount set, you'll love how much easier it becomes to walk away from bad deals without losing a bit of sleep to regret."

And there you go. I just turned a post where 3/4 of the word-count was a rant about my hatred towards that stupidest of stupid phrases, "Earn what you're worth!!" into something halfway valuable to a freelance writer seeking help and answers.

So the next time you are confused about setting rates as a freelancer trying to make money writing online, come on back to this article and don't forget to use this handy dandy freelance writing rate calculator while you're here. Thanks for enduring my irksome attitude and relentless degradation of that worthless phrase. I can only hope that I have argued my point clearly and provided a solution that blows that phrase out of the water as far as helpfulness is concerned.


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Sue Blackwood said...

Good advice...I am in the UK and write music and gig reviews for an online rock magazine called 'Louder Than War',just because I love it. Unpaid, but great fun. I googled 'Writing for Profit' and your article popped up. I have noticed that a great many 'creative types', be they artists, musicians, performers or writers, are not so great at selling themselves or placing an accurate value on their work or skill. I automatically steer clear of anyone using the word 'expert' about themselves in any walk of life. We all may have useful information to impart, or have accrued knowledge through experience that we can usefully share. To my ear, the term 'expert' implies that some pinnacle or 'summit' has been reached which, of course, is never the case. I enjoyed your practical advice. Thanks!

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