What am I worth?

Subject: What am I worth?
From: Miki Magyar <MDM0857 -at- MCDATA -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 1 Mar 1999 12:59:47 -0700

Susan Grammer asked "So just how high should I go?...I hate to admit that I have hired myself out for 10 hr/week for three months for $10/hour to one client. I had asked for $20/hr from academic institutions and $30/hr from biotech industry, ..."

Given your experience as a bench worker and as a writer, I think you do yourself and all of us a disservice to hire out at $10/hour. I'd expect to pay someone that much to clean my house. Please up your rates as soon as possible.

In fact, I would argue that no one, newbie or not, should hire out at less than $20/hr. (adjusted for local conditions and international units to whatever is a comparable assembly-line wage). If you are not confident enough of your abilities as a technical writer, do more unpaid work, take classes, and get professional feedback until you can be confident your services are worth what you're charging. Then, once you're established, feel free to take the occasional low-paid job for whatever reasons apply (charity, friendship, curiosity, etc.).

To justify the low rate, Susan said, "the potential is there for a major contract down the road if we work well together." Good. Hope it works. But what sort of bargaining position will you be in then? Will the hard bargainer be willing to more than double your rate when you've already demonstrated that you can be whittled down and don't consider yourself worth more than $10/hour? 'Begin as you would go on.'

It sounds like you are well on your way in your new career as a technical writer - welcome to the club and good luck! Hope to hear from you again.

mikim -at- ieee -dot- org

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