Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Sep 28, 2015
I am a professional. That might look like a bold statement until you have an understanding of the definition of a professional.
A professional is someone who gets paid for work that they do. If you cut down trees for a friend and they pay you, that might not make you a professional. If you cut down trees for a few people and they pay you for it, you can call yourself a professional tree cutter. It doesn’t mean that’s your entire career, but if you can make money doing something more than once, you should consider yourself a professional at it. It doesn’t mean you’re an expert; it just means you’re a professional.
When looked at it that way, I can consider myself a professional at a lot of things.
For instance, I’m a professional speaker because I have been paid for speaking engagements and presentations. I’ve been paid for speaking engagements in nine different states, so that makes me even more qualified to call myself a professional speaker.
I can call myself a professional budgeting consultant. I can do that because I have helped 3 – 4 people learn how to budget their money so that they can pay their bills and have money left over for important things. I’ve worked with one client, also a friend of mine, for 7 years, & I have helped her get to the point where she has nearly $15,000 in her checking account. That might not sound like much unless you know where she started and what we had to work with over the years. It proved that you don’t have to make tons of money in order to be able to put money away, and she has other money in a portfolio that will help her when she retires.
I can call myself a professional singer as well as a professional musician. For about 14 years, I used to sing and perform at weddings. I didn’t do it as much as some people might have because frankly I had never thought of myself as a singer it, at least initially. But people seem to like my voice and I could pretty much play any song I needed to in order to perform it. Sometimes I did it for free, but at least 75% of the time I got paid for it. I wish I could call myself a professional songwriter instead, which was my dream at the time, but I couldn’t get anyone to pay me for it; sigh… lol
I’m a professional consultant in a couple other areas also. I’m not going to get into all that because I talked about it so many times on this blog that if anyone is really interested they can look back through the archives and see what I say I do.
I’m also a professional writer. Let’s look at that one a bit deeper.
First, I’ve written for others and been paid for it. Oddly enough, for most of my blogs, even though I’m hoping that people will read them and get something out of them, I’m pretty much writing for myself. I consider it writing for myself because I get to pick my own topics and write in my own style. I have a lot of fun with that, but a major part of the intention of writing all of these blogs is to drive business my way.
Through my main business blog, I’m hoping to get contracts and speaking engagements. On my finance blog, I’m hoping to meet some people who need help setting up their budgets or learning how to save money (I don’t mean investing…). On my medical billing blog I’m hoping to reach out to people who need help figuring out their medical bills, as well as reaching some people who might want some training on medical billing or things associated with it.
For my local blog, at least initially, I was hoping to attract attention of local businesses who might want to advertise on the site by writing about local events. However, that one has morphed into my “I write whatever I want to write” blog, which sometimes touches on local topics. After all, we all have to have outlets for our thoughts that don’t fit anywhere else, right?
Then we have I’m Just Sharing. I love this blog a lot, so much so that I have written more articles here than anywhere else. I actually have more than one intention with this blog, but the main intention is to show a diverse skill of being able to write about many different types of things. I concentrate a lot on the process of blogging and I comment a lot on social media, but when all is said and done it’s really all about the writing (and I have lots of articles on this blog about the process of writing; check out the categories tab on the right).
When you’re writing for others, things change a little bit. If you’re writing for an article farm (if you are, I’m sorry…), they’re pretty strict in the format they want you to write in. That’s not really writing because it’s way too formulaic; guess how many of those sites got dinged badly when Google put through either Penguin or Panda; I never can keep those animals straight when applied to them. If Google didn’t consider it real writing, I’m not considering it real writing.
If you’re writing other things for people, you probably need to more about what you can’t write about than what you can write on. For instance, at my age now, if I was asked to write about today’s pop music I couldn’t come close to doing it justice, since there’s little I know, let alone like. Today’s TV shows and most of the movies; no, nada, zip! Cars… I don’t even know where the oil goes in my car so that’s not happening (although years ago I did write an article about Cuban Cars lol). Video games… I haven’t played one since Civ III in 2004 (isn’t that a shame?).
That’s why it’s better to write about things you know or things that you might find interesting. For instance, I was the primary writer for a wedding dress blog for more than 2 years. It was easy because I always had lots of ideas, it was easy to research, and I’ve always loved the look of wedding gown of all types; hey, don’t judge me! I’ve written travel blogs, real estate blogs, accounting blogs, food blogs… lots of blogs. I’ve written articles for magazines, some of them paid. Probably the only thing I haven’t written for is newspapers; I’m good with that. lol
I’d like to think that I’m a pretty good writer. After all, I’ve written 2 books, 2 ebooks, a training manual, and I’m listed as an editor in 2 other books. Because I like to think I’m a good writer, it means I feel that, when I have an offer to write something, I deserve to get paid properly for it.
What does getting paid properly mean? Well, I don’t want to throw out a specific price because you just never know what someone’s needs are, and sometimes people want to pay you more than what you might ask them for. In general though, I want to be paid what I will call a “fair” wage. What that means is that if someone comes to me and asks me to write a 500-word article for a penny a word, I’m going to throw them off my space or ignore them. I live in New York; you can’t even buy a decent milkshake for that kind of money (I don’t drink coffee lol).
If they come to me and offered me $0.05 per word, I might at least engage them to find out what the needs are. That’s still relatively low, but if it’s not a subject that would take intense research (like forensic loan analysis) Overall, it depends on how much research I have to do and how much knowledge I may have about a particular thing. If you want to know what I charge to write articles for people on my own finance blog… nah, I’m not linking to it. If you care just click on the link to Top Finance Blog over there to the right and then click on my advertising policy; I can’t do all the work for you. 😉
Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t know how to value writing, which in actuality is the same thing about professional speaking. People think that all you have to do is sit down with a piece of paper, or on a computer, and just write something and you’re done. That’s not close to true.
I used as an example in a previous post that if people remembered how much they struggled writing papers while they were in high school or college then they would understand how difficult it can be to write articles, especially on topics that aren’t well known. It can take time to research so that you can write an article that doesn’t sound like a direct copy of something that’s already out there. If you already have great knowledge of something, then you deserve to be paid for that knowledge.
When all is said and done, it’s about seeing yourself as a professional and deciding what you’re worth. All of us at some point will provide services at a rate that’s way lower than what we deserve to receive because we haven’t really thought all that much about it.
Another story. Almost 20 years ago my wife put together a dress for a young lady who was going to some kind of party. She quoted the young lady $250, which seemed like a good deal for both of them at the time.
However, the design the young lady selected turned out to have a very complicated buttoning pattern up the entire back. Because of it, my wife had to sew by hand all the loops on the dress instead of being able to use her machine.
On the day the young lady needed the dress, my wife spent 13 straight hours sewing loops on it. She had already probably put in 10 hours before that in cutting out the dress and sewing the other parts of it together. She also probably spent an hour or two beforehand going out looking for the type of material this young lady needed for the dress as well, since that was included in the overall price.
What this means in the long run is that my wife put in close to 30 hours on a dress that she got paid $250 for, which means she made less than $8.50 an hour. That doesn’t sound quite fair does it? After that, she never made another dress for anyone except herself because she felt so bad. If she’d charged what she deserved, the young lady might not have asked her to make the dress from scratch, but my wife would not have lost her passion for doing things like that. At the time she didn’t feel she was worth being paid more; that’s a dangerous mindset to overcome.
When all is said and done, if we don’t see ourselves as professionals at things that were actually good at, and we allow people to try to pay us less then what we deserve, we grow disenchanted and won’t perform as well as we would like. There’s a lot of people who have had broken dreams because they have fallen into the morass of allowing someone else to dictate how proficient they are. One of my friends pretty much lost her career and almost her life because of it.
Of course you have to earn it. If you’ve only written 10 articles in your life and you decide that you deserve $200 per article, you’re probably kidding yourself. If you’ve put in the time and the energy and you have a portfolio of some kind that you can share, no matter what it is you do, then you deserve to at least make enough money where, if it was your full time job, you could live on. We all have to start somewhere, so if you’re new you might take a lesser amount and build up from there.
There you go; my motivational message to you for the day. I’m putting the message out that if someone is willing to offer me what I think I deserve for writing, I’d love to write for you because, for this purpose, I’m a professional writer.
I encourage everyone else to see themselves as professionals in what they do and to be ready to ask for what you feel you deserve.
Do you see yourself as a professional?