Why You Should Charge More for Your Writing

Several years ago, I had the privilege of chauffeuring a gentleman from Rwanda around Charlotte. He had come to the States to speak about conditions in his country, and to raise money for relief and to rebuild after the devastating civil wars that had ravaged that part of the world.

Around lunchtime, we were down near Carmel and Hwy 51, so we stopped at the Panera Bread. I will never forget the look on his face when I asked him, standing there in front of that giant menu board, what he wanted to eat.

He couldn’t answer me.

It wasn’t that he couldn’t read English (he could), or that there were too many options or that they were unfamiliar (though they probably were). He couldn’t even speak for a moment. The look of awe and fear on his face has never left me. Finally, very quietly, he said:

“Everything is so expensive.”

When you can feed a family of six for a month on $2, a $7 lunch seems absurdly extravagant.

I didn’t know whether to say, “Don’t worry, I’ll pay for it” (which of course I was planning to do, but I don’t think that was his concern), or, “Don’t worry, it’s not a big deal” (which I thought would sound dismissive), or, “Hey, let’s skip lunch and send the money to Rwanda” (I really wanted that sandwich!).

After a beat, I said, “I know.”

Because I’m a word-maker, that’s me.

Why am I sharing this story with you? Because I want you to remember something very important:

You are the gentleman from Rwanda. And the businesses you want to serve are me.

What I mean to say is, what you can afford to pay is not a reasonable measure for what you should be charging for your work. Businesses are in business to make money, and the successful ones do. They can afford a lot more than you can, and they should be charged a lot more than you think, because they have every intention of making even more money off your work.

So charge what you’re actually worth, not what you think someone else can afford.

For more on pricing, check out our quick-and-dirty pricing guide for new writers.

As for that fateful lunch, we got our sandwiches, and we made our tour, and he raised some funds. A lot of families got fed because of him, and I will never look at a Panera Bread sandwich the same way again.

Now, according to all of the marketing wisdom ever, this blog post should end with a Call To Action. It should lead to something that I want you to read next, which will lead to something else, which will eventually lead you to buy something from me. That is not happening today.

I can’t do that while I’m thinking about how in some parts of the world, a family of six can eat for a month on $2. Instead, I’m going to ask you this: If you were moved by my friend’s story, consider making a donation to a charity of your choice right now.

Or, head over to The Compassion Collective, where an all-volunteer team of women is working day and night to provide life-saving aid to refugees.

Your $2 could be somebody else’s miracle.

Fen Druadìn Head
Fen Druadìn Head is an award-winning freelance writer and coach. Her work can be found all over the internet in publications as diverse as Redshift Magazine and Grit. Fen's fiction is represented by Ethan Ellenberg.