Just this past summer I was requested to be an editor for a non-profit client’s new high school curriculum. Since I supported the organization’s work, and needed the money, I said I’d take a stab at a couple of pages to see a.) how long it would take for me to edit, and b.) if the organization was pleased with my work.
When I was done editing a page and a half, I checked the clock–I’d spent more than an hour on the tiny project. The client was pleased with the work I’d done, and then told me how many more pages there were to be edited, and what their budget was for the project. I crunched the numbers: to edit the body of work would average me $8 an hour. I was stunned, and told the client I couldn’t possibly work for that wage. My editing and writing skills were (and still are) worth more than such a paltry amount.
We tried negotiating for a while, but I came to the conclusion that the client didn’t understand the real value of my skill. It hadn’t just take me an hour to edit, it had taken me years to learn how to write, how words work together, and how to craft and weave stories together.