"Required reading" for today's smart writer.

"Required reading" for today's smart writer.
As featured on: Pro Blogger, Men With Pens, Write to Done, Tiny Buddha, LifeHack, Technorati, Date My Pet, South 85 Literary Journal and other award-winning sites.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Are You Selling Yourself Short?

5 Ways to Increase Your Bottom Line Even When You're at Rock Bottom!

Back in the day when I had a crush on bad-boy rapper 50 Cent, I would devour every hip-hop magazine, celebrity news story, or blog that featured his interview, movie review, or the 4-1-1 on who he was dating. In his six-pack-displaying days, he was in my mind, “to die for.” Twice!
Okay, so it's not one of my proudest moments. But bear with me; there's a point here.

Anyhow, I remember coming across one such article where he made a statement that stayed with me and changed my perspective on how I do business, and the art of negotiations forever.
In doling out advice to future music moguls and entrepreneurs in general, he stated, “Never pay people what they're worth.; pay them what they'll accept.” (No wonder he was able to turn 50 Cents into millions!)

It was at that very moment I had a paradigm shift. I realized that the reason I was busted, disgusted and an expert on all things Ramen Noodles, was that as a freelancer, I wasn't being paid what I was worth.
I was too afraid to take a stand. I figured if I asked for too much, I would knock myself out of the running.
And why would I? It's common knowledge that there are hundreds of writers who will work for free, just for the benefit of a byline and “15 minutes of fame.” So I figured some money was better than none at all.

Then I did a reality check. When I really took a cold, hard look at my cold cash, in some cases I was making less by the hour than some factory workers in foreign countries. This despite having two degrees.

Something had to change. I decided to adopt Dr. Phil's philosophy---”we teach people how to treat us by the things we accept.” I discovered that not only were his sage words applicable to women who were in abusive relationships, they worked for freelancers who worked for freeloaders too!

You know the type: they'll pay you in “exposure”. Or they'll “reevaluate” your status based on how many clicks you get, or how much mileage they can get out of you.
As a result, you have to string together a dozen odds-and-ends jobs just to make ends meet. Which I had been doing, and simply had had enough.
And if you're in a similar situation, you should too.

Of course this is not to suggest that you should never write for free, or for low wages; some of these writing opportunities can provide great avenues for expanding your business, or are for worthy causes. Just be prudent in those you pursue.

With this in mind, here are five ways to increase your dignity and your bottom line in 2011.

1. Kick “tire-kickers” to the curb. Simply put, tire kickers are potential clients that will test the waters by asking a lot of free questions about your rates for projects, your creative ideas, and your strategies to help advance their business goals without any real desire to hire you. Some will even take your suggestions and implement them themselves to cut cost. Cut your losses short by learning to identify them early in the game, and limiting the time and frequency of (free) consultations and creative brainstorming on others' behalves. As they say, “why buy the cow if you can get the milk for free?” Funds for Writers creator, C. Hope Clark charges 50 bucks to chat with writers for a thirty minute consult.
2. Change your perspective. Even the Good Book tells us that, “so a man thinketh, so it is.” Stop buying into the belief that you must be a “starving artist.” Consider famous authors J.k. Rowling and Stephen King. Or celebrity bloggers like Darren Rowse, Brian Clark, and Daniel Scocco for examples. Positive thinking works. Positively!
3. Hone your craft to increase your cash. What are your creative weaknesses? Do you have a difficult time with conducting interviews? Is your fiction more like Ripley's Believe it or not? Do you struggle with subject/ verb agreement? Assess then act accordingly. There are many online classes offered for writers of all levels and genres to sharpen skills. One such site is www.coffeehouseforwriters.com/. Also consider joining a critique group in your local area.
4. Diversify---Don't devote all your hopes, dreams, or literary efforts to one area. The key to staying in the black, is creating multiple streams of income. For example, though I've had a successful career as a relationship columnist and blogger, my first foray into writing was as a poet. And I was indeed “po” until I expanded my creative horizons. You should too.
5. Recognize that time is money. Invest it well to yield optimal results. In other words, don't spend endless (unbillable) hours surfing the Net catching up on Brittney Spears and celebrity gossip, or exchanging photos on Facebook, or playing computer games. Budget your time like you would your money. Get your priorities in order. Ironically, the more money you make, the more freedom and leisure you'll gradually earn.

Follow these five tips (and get a clue) and you'll discover a writing career that's rich and rewarding on many levels.


Image: nuttakit


  1. Great post! This is something that I need to remind myself of sometimes. I think that much is said by how we carry ourselves professionally. Polish and confidence go a long way. Even if the confidence is a little shaky on the inside, no one needs to know that! :) Thanks, as always, for sharing.

  2. It definitely takes courage and conviction to not accept less than you're worth. Great article and PS. I think I still have a crush on 50!

  3. Jennifer Brown BanksMarch 2, 2011 at 12:49 PM


    Thanks so much. You're spot on! Polish and confidence can go a long way. :-)

  4. Jennifer Brown BanksMarch 2, 2011 at 12:51 PM


    You've got good taste girl! And hey, thugs need love too. :-) Thanks for your thoughts.

  5. Thank you for the online resources. I've been wanting to do something to home my skills. :)

  6. Jennifer Brown BanksMarch 2, 2011 at 3:39 PM

    You're welcome. Keep us posted!

  7. Hi Jennifer,

    These are good tips. I don't have much to add. But I can say that I am learning a lot from you. My goal is to be a paid writer. Your tips are very helpful in this area for me.

    Thanks for sharing!

  8. Jennifer Brown BanksMarch 2, 2011 at 6:35 PM

    Hi Evelyn,

    Thanks so much for your comments and support. My goal is to help through my divine gifts and experience. You let me know I'm on the right track. ;-)

  9. Hi Jennifer, I love this:

    "busted, disgusted and an expert on all things Ramen Noodles,"

    That's awesome. I too have been an expert on all things Ramen. It's true, we so often accept what they're giving because it's scary to risk, "OR DON'T WORK/WRITE FOR US."

    It's scary to stand up and demand what we're worth. But risk is often rewarded. Thanks for sharing this! And I had no idea you had a crusy on 50 Cent. He does have some rock-hard abs, though. :)

  10. Jennifer Brown BanksMarch 3, 2011 at 8:54 AM


    Thanks for stopping by. Always a pleasure to hear from you. Yep, I feel "50 Cent". Matter of fact, I just blushed when I typed that. :-)

    But, I must admit that I'm less "fanatic" than in former years.

    I don't always agree with all of his lyrics pertaining to women and the fast-lane-life,
    but he's definitely got some mad skills when it comes to good dance music!

    And he does profess to embracing God in his interviews. In fact, one of my his famous lines is, "Only God can judge me."

    And you're right; risk is often rewarded.

    Here's hoping we all have greater rewards from our risks in 2011!

  11. Jennifer Brown BanksMarch 3, 2011 at 8:58 AM

    Oops, just caught my typo. Please omit "my" before "his famous lines." Sorry folks!

  12. Hi Jennifer - this was a fun! That quote by Fif is eye opening for sure. I know when I sell myself and it never feels right. I appreciate the tips you've shared. Thank you!

  13. Jennifer Brown BanksMarch 3, 2011 at 4:53 PM

    Thanks much, JK! I appreciate the input.

  14. Jennifer,
    These are timely reminders that fuel my choices to take a risk, and say no to free-loading, tire-kickers. And @ Jk Allen, you're right 'it never feels right'when I sell myself SHORT, or know you're being gleaned.

    Diversify and hone. I like this.

    Thanks so much.

  15. Jennifer Brown BanksMarch 4, 2011 at 3:30 AM

    Hi Yvonne,

    So glad you like! Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing.

  16. This comment has been removed by the author.

  17. Hi Jennifer,

    Great post, as usual. As a new blogger/writer, I appreciated your reflections on this important topic. I will keep your tips in mind.

  18. Jennifer Brown BanksMarch 5, 2011 at 2:29 AM

    Hi Yasmin,

    Welcome, welcome! I'm glad you found these tips useful. Thanks so much for your feddback and your time.

  19. Jennifer Brown BanksMarch 5, 2011 at 2:31 AM

    OOps! That should read "feedback". Caught that typo. :-) Need to clean these reading glasses...

  20. hello jennifer
    how are you?
    there's always something for me to think about each time i visit your blog. you've spoken the truth in this article and kind of reinforced my position on risk taking and knowing one's worth.
    thanks for sharing.
    but wait:
    why fifty? when theres diddy, lupe, nelly, naz.... lol!!!
    take care of yourself and enjoy the rest of the day

  21. Jennifer Brown BanksMarch 5, 2011 at 1:40 PM


    How nice to hear this. I'm glad to provide posts that cause reflection and reality checks.

    As for Fifty, what can I say? " I could tell ya' but, then I'd have to kill ya'." :-)

    Don't be a stranger. Thanks for stopping by.

  22. Dr. Phil is so right. (Did I just write that in public?) This post was a very good reminder. Thanks.

  23. Jennifer Brown BanksMarch 6, 2011 at 4:38 AM

    Missed Periods? A blast from the past! :-) Good to hear from you again. Thanks for your thoughts.

  24. Hola, Jennifer:
    A couple of years ago, I saw a made-for-TV movie about Martha Stewart. (This relates, I promise!) There was a scene where the young and yet-undiscovered Martha discussed selling her homemade apple pies from a cart. She said that she initially priced them at $3 a pie, and rang very few sales. So she decided to *increase* the price to $10 a pie, causing the pies to fly off of her vendor's cart.

    My particulars of the scene may be off, but the gist is what remains with me: I was impressed with Martha's business savvy and refusal to sell herself short. She knew she had a quality product, and reflected her confidence in the quality of her product through its pricing.

    We can't expect others to buy what we're selling until we buy it first, as demonstrated by the way we comport ourselves and value our product. Enter self-confidence and business standards. Although I believe that is easier said than done, it also proves a wiser business strategy in the long-run.

    And a little faith doesn't hurt either. ;-)

    Have a lovely week!

  25. Jennifer Brown BanksMarch 8, 2011 at 4:01 AM


    Bravo, baby! Well stated. "We can't expect others to buy what wer'e selling until we buy it first."

    I'd also like to add that I believe I saw that same program--as I am a fan of Martha Stewart's and all things domestic. :-)

    Muchas Gracias!