When You Undervalue Your Work, Everyone Loses

By: Ebonye Gussine Wilkins

I had a frustrating experience recently. I was browsing a freelancing website when I came across a job I wanted to bid for. I put in my bid and waited for a response. I certainly got a spirited response. The writer in question wanted to know why my editing bid was so high (actually, it was low compared to industry standards, but clearly this client didn’t know that). I explained the pricing structure and offered to adjust based on the job.

The response I got made my heart sink. Apparently, the other person in line for the job had bid $25.00 for a manuscript that was over 35,000 words. A project that was likely anywhere from 10-20 hours of work was being priced at $25.00. I couldn’t believe it. Yet, this is a trend that shouldn’t surprise me. I’ve seen writers ask editors to do a line-by-line copyedit as well as a developmental edit on a 100,000 word manuscript for $80.00.


When you undervalue your work, you set yourself up for failure. Not only will the client see your work as not being worthy of higher pay, it will be increasingly harder to justify market rates in the long run. Inevitably, clients will want to know why they should charge your hourly rate of $35 if you previously did the same job for $1.50 an hour. That is a situation you do not want to be in.

Whether you are a writer or an editor, take pride in your work. Offer your services at a price that will reasonably allow you to pay your bills. It is okay to be flexible. Some professionals do pro bono work every once in a while. If you want better clients and better work, then you have to charge a rate that demands respect from a client.

Have you ever performed a writing or editing service for far less than it was worth? Have you ever tried to aggressively haggle with a professional? How did that work out?

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