What Is Your Time As A Writer Worth? Answer: More Than Exposure

Start here and here, if you are interested in catching up with this series of posts about writing, value of writing, and what writing is worth.

What is your time as a writer worth?


nuq ‘oH writer worth poH?

-Thank you Klingon translator…come on writer? Really, no Klingon writers?

Think about that before firing off an answer. When you have an answer, check your number against going rates for people in your area of writing expertise and in your region of the world. How did you do?

Worth is something every writer, thinking about making money, should be thinking about. Sure, nobody wants to talk about money, especially when seeking to get that foot in the door. Why? You did the work, you have bills to pay, you need and deserve compensation for the work you do. So while the convention, may to avoid talking about compensation, TALK about it. Wait for them to offer a number first if you like. Always a good negotiation tactic, but and I cannot stress this, have a top value and a bottom line number for yourself.

Shoot for the top, but go no lower than the bottom line. I can’t give you advice on how to get that top money other than the following common sense: Have your facts lined up. Do not go into a negotiation for your services without knowing the following:

  • your value
  • industry entry level pay rate
  • industry top level pay
  • background information about the people who you may be working with/for (yes, do some damn research before you start looking for a job-I can name ten game companies for writers to avoid off the top of my head because I did the research on how they treat and pay writers)
  • what you want for compensation beyond money, such as benefits if it is a long term gig or a portion of the profits
  • rights. Who owns your work? Who owns the intellectual property you may or may not create while on the job? These are important considerations for me and should be for most writers. If you are banging out little pieces here and there, I am fine with the payer owning them. However, if you create something new, who owns it and how much. Should you leave, do they get to keep the thing you created and run wild with it. Related to that, is your name going to be on everything you write, even after you are gone? What about revisions to your writing? How much control over your writing do you have?

So, you want to be a writer. How much is your time worth? How much are your words worth? You should know that. I do. However, my value is not your value. If you do not know how much your time and words are worth, how do you know when you are getting proper payment or giving it away?

How can you determine your value? This can be tricky, but here are some things to consider:

  • Education, do you have a demonstrable education or degree in your field of writing
  • Expertise, can you demonstrate through samples, and presentation of yourself and your work, that you are an expert
  • Experience, how long have you been writing as a general concept, how long have you been writing about this particular area, have you been employed as a writer, and other measures of experience

A good way to demonstrate all of the above is to have a portfolio. A portfolio is a selection of your work that shows your range, expertise, and experience. Having a portfolio is more than having a collection of stuff. A portfolio is a well thought out process of selecting the best of your work. Each sample should quickly and easily demonstrate your skills as a writer and beyond. Writers, thanks to technology, are expected to be able to do more than just put word to paper. How are your layout skills? Giving any thought to color scheme, fonts, and pictures? If not, I have given you three things to think about. Because when push comes to shove, a writer who can do more than write is worth more than a writer who just writes.

Once again, what is your time worth and what skills do you bring to the table beyond writing?






500 Words At A Time: As A Teacher, Part 17


We have had our “leap of faith” and the leaper was successful.

One success is great, but what if I told you there were more and those who are not successes right now are on the right path? You would say to me, “What happened?” And I would reply, “Something finally clicked.”

That “click” moment must be what teachers hope and wait for because prior to today, I was pretty sure I was going to witness several funeral pyres. Make no mistake, the students are not “there” yet, but more of them are closer to “there” than they were a week ago and all of them are further along than they were at the start of the semester. There is work to be done. I believe that they will do the work.

Two more presentations of online portfolios (please take a look at Nycole Sheperd’s) and it looks like some of them are listening to the feedback. Even better some of them are acting upon the feedback. Not in that mindless, someone told me to do something and I did it, but in the thoughtful, someone said something and I figured out how to apply their advice, suggestion, or comment to me in my own way. That is the preferred method.

After the presentations came the dreaded by them, but looked forward to by us print portfolios. I came close to shedding a tear at a couple of them. The progress from the first versions is astounding in most of them. No longer is there one student who is trying. This is where the feedback is showing. Each student, except the one who has yet to present another print version, has made leaps.

Nycole CoverPrint portfolios were turned in looking like books or whatever form they chose. Some of the students are making notes of their own on their copies, such as page numbers in wrong place, or photos that could be better, and even asking for our assistance from us in their notes. Astounding and amazing. Nycole’s print portfolio (see picture) blew us out of the water. She is a gamer and instead of shunting that gamer to the side as she had been, despite her obvious love of gaming, she embraced it. This portfolio is on the road to being outstanding not only for it’s appearance, but the thoughtfulness. On each page you can see that she thought about what, why, where, and then applied her theme.

Progress is being made and there is a sense of pride from a couple of the students. A teacher or in this case an assistant to the teacher couldn’t be happier. So what is next? For them, they take their print portfolios and online portfolios and make them look like the same student did both. Tightening of the writing on both is mandatory. Lastly, making the print portfolio look as close to professional as they can. In other words, several more rounds of printing off proofs and then off to whatever printer they have chosen.

Kira CoverI already have my eye on a couple that I want a copy to put on my bookshelf next to mine. I may not have created them, but I had a hand and I am proud of the work I am seeing. The cover below is Kira’s, her print and online portfolio have been looking good from day one and now on day…whatever are looking even better. Take a look at her, Kira Poncin, site too.


500 Words At A Time: As A Teacher, Part 14

“Time for a come to Jesus moment,” is a phrase I hear a lot on campus. The gist of the phrase is where a professor speaks clearly to the students about their performance or lack of performance. The hope is that the students take the chastisement to heart and fix the problem. I.e. their lack of performance. In my experience, most professors are too nice in their “come to Jesus moments.” A punch to the gut may hurt, but that hurt will motivate most people to do more, if nothing else not to get hit in the gut again. Plus, the world will punch them in their gut a lot more than one time. I am not a professor. I punched in the gut.

I make no apologies. I should have been more “me” from the start, but I opted for “I am here to help you, just tell me what you need.” I should have been, “you are representing yourself, this school, this department, and me. You will need to have a good dose of pride, thick skin, self-motivation, and a willingness to try more than you ever have. Because you are about to go on a journey of self-discovery and there will be people watching.”

The difference between poor and good work is a chasm. Not a lot of effort has to go into making something good. Most poor work is because of a lack of effort.

The difference between good and great work is a fine line. Making something great requires more effort, attention to detail, and a desire to succeed.

The difference between great and outstanding (exceptional or any other word) is passion, pride, even more effort and attention to detail.

These students are hovering around good. One or two cross over into good before retreating to poor. They are not trying to make an effort. They are trying to meet what they feel are the objectives as told to them by the professor. Except that the professor has stated repeatedly that there is no single objective. Do the assignment to the best of your ability demonstrating your skills for all assignments. The problem is that the students are just doing the assignments.

Make an online portfolio which should have A, B, C, and D. Along the way make it yours. They have A thru D and made it theirs by putting their name at the top. Okay, workable. Except after getting feedback from three different people, nobody did anything since the last time I looked at them. WTF?

Make a print portfolio…what do they do, copied their online portfolios and put forth little or no effort. Feedback was honest, but brutal only due to the amount of work we expected to see vs what was presented.

This class has resources no other class has had access to and they are not using them. They are also not working nearly as hard as they need to be working. So today was a variation on the “come to Jesus” talk, except they got to hear from former students what they thought of the work they were seeing out of current students. There is time for the current students to take the information, advice, suggestions, and criticism to heart and create projects that showcase their skills and make them shining stars.

Only they can take that next leap of faith and try.

Portfolio Madness

One time, a long time ago, I made a portfolio. I was proud of my portfolio. I did not like my portfolio. It was not me. I was me trying to present a better me and I am, me just not a better me. The whole thing felt like I do when I wear a suit, like I am trying to pretend to be someone I am not. The day after my presentation of my portfolio was complete, I took the site down without any thought at all.

Fast forward close to a year later. I am assisting with the portfolio class. I have tried to impart to them what they should be doing, when they should have stuff done, and some of how they could do what they need to do. I am not sure if I am getting through to them and it has been expressed to me (from multiple sides) that in all reality it is not my problem, as I am a student assistant. However, that is not me. I want them to do their best or at least put forth the best effort that they can, which is why I have been showing in class to offer my experience, advice, and assistance where necessary.

As part of showing them how to create a portfolio it was suggested to me (again, from multiple sources) that I create or in this case re-create my own portfolio. The idea being, if I can do it, they can do it, and along the way they can see how someone with some experience creates a portfolio. Until last night I was resistant to the idea. I didn’t want to rip off a portfolio and have it come across as a “Ha, look what I did,” dick move.

Then, last night while going through their portfolios as part of my weekly progress report, it stood out that maybe they do need to see a “complete” portfolio or a portfolio in progress. Plus, I should have an online portfolio for me that is me…not me being a better me. It will all make sense later.

Before I share the link to my portfolio, in progress. I will be resharing the links to the students portfolios. If you could take a few minutes to look over them and leave me feedback on this post, I and they would be very thankful. All of the students asked for additional sets of eyes and feedback.







If you leave feedback, leave it here where I can present it to them and be honest, they can only get better if they see what other people see.

Now for the big reveal. Below is a link to my portfolio. I have five more samples to add for the time being. If you would like to leave me feedback please do, after all fair is fair and I can only make it better. But this is more me being me and most definitely not a better me. 🙂

Monkeys Made Me Do It…Again


Slow Turn Snow Day

If you have not read this post and my invitation to look over several students portfolios, please do. They asked for feedback and I would like to give them as much feedback as possible. Please, leave the feedback on that post or this post and NOT on their portfolios.

Yesterday was supposed to be the first print portfolio workshop. I was looking forward to it, but Mother Nature had other plans. Her plans, snow and lots of it. And this after she melted all of the other snow. I betting on some form of Mother Nature’s remorse; she had snow, melted it, and then wished she had snow back, thus the snow storm…of which, I understand another is showing up this week. Snow storms lead to snow days for the children, which lead to snow days for me.

The weather was so bad that everyone got the day off. No shit. Barb didn’t have to go in. The students didn’t have to go to class. Everyone I knew was snowed in. What could have been the best snow day for going into class ever was not because everyone else was also snowed in. I even had a plan, where Barb would watch the kids while I went to class. Oh well, instead we had fun.

Michigan weather is often the source of many jokes, mostly involving waiting around a few minutes or hours for the weather to change. Yesterday was no different. By mid-day, the snow was melting…Mother Nature’s remorse again? We were starting up our first of a couple of Pathfinder Adventure Card Games.

Family games can be long. Obviously turns should take longer because there are six players instead of four. However, I know that a game can go faster than it is, even with two newish players. With slow turns comes plenty of time for people to get distracted. Distracted people are not paying attention to the game, acting as distractions for other people, and generally the game goes downhill as the distraction increases.

The problem seems to stem from in our four-player games there was time to watch a player completely finish their turn before taking your turn. In Pathfinder Adventure Card Game there is a lot of end of turn stuff, such as recharging spells or resetting a hand, that do not need the next player to wait on, but that is what we used to do. Part of the reason was we wanted to make sure the children completed the steps correctly. They do that now.

Why we watch them, I have no idea, but we still do and it slows down the game…a lot. We have been trying to get the next player to start their turn while the previous player finishes up their turn. So far mostly miss more than hit. Due to distractions and boredom, the children often “forget” how to do end of turn stuff. I guess they do this to get attention from us or to “get the most out of their turn,” regardless of why it gets old fast and has the habit of making already long games longer.

When games get flowing, as in everyone is on the ball, the time spent waiting goes down dramatically. Yesterday, the first game took an hour to finish. The second game…lets just say that we have learned that the children get no more than one game in a row any more.

500 Words At A Time: As A Teacher, Part 5

Our girl was sick, if you read yesterday’s post, you have an idea of what we were dealing with. Today was less sick, but still sick enough that I kept her home. When a sick child is home, I stay home. If I am home, then I am not in class where I am supposed to be assisting or teaching students how to make their online portfolio. My physical absence does not excuse them from working in an online environment on an assignment that is the primary grade for their capstone class.

I have a saying around the house, “If I am working. You are working.” I worked from home today. While not nearly as satisfying as being in the classroom, I was able to work. Due to their work being online they should be as well. I am not getting a grade on my work. I have already passed the class. I am there to assist them and I am more than happy to do so, provided they do the work that I ask. I do not ask for more than I did. In fact, using what I did I am asking for smaller chunks to make their workload easier.

Thus, for me, my time as a teacher today was reviewing their sites. I will spare you the nitty gritty, but suffice to say, years ago I would not be able to do this, technology has revolutionized the ability to teach. For example, in the case of this class, I could teach the entire online protfolio process, complete with examples and a live, interactive question and answer session online. I know this because this is how I have taught a couple of people out of state and out of country to start their sites. What is interesting to me, is there seems to be a mindset that they have to do the work in class and that someone has to be there in person to teach them or answer their questions.

If they had a normal assignment, such as write a paper on whatever, this mindset would make sense. They do not have a normal assignment. In fact, they do not have a regular portfolio capstone class that other departments have. I know, because I am assisting a biology major with her capstone portfolio and compared to the Tech-Comm portfolio is a joke. The Biology portfolio is to assemble a 3-ring binder consisting of a resume, some assignments from the semester, and some assignments from their time at the college. A joke, compared to an online portfolio, a print portfolio, a 30-minute presentation, a resume, and business cards all designed to ensure that a Tech-Comm student leaves the schools tithe tools necessary to get a job out the door.

Provided they do the work…

500 Words At A Time: As A Teacher, First Day of My Last Semester

Tomorrow is my first day of the my last semester here at Ferris. I probably should be feeling something other than “Oh, goodie.” But I am not. Too many first days and too many things I can think of that are better uses of my time. Except this time, my first day is my day. This semester, my last (I do like how that sounds) truly is my semester.

I have a self-made obligation to be on campus one day a week to work with Technical-Professional Communications students in their capstone class, specifically assisting them in setting up their online portfolios, as I have experience with WordPress and creating an online portfolio. I am looking forward to working with students again.

These students should have a better idea of what is expected of them as this is a capstone class. Thus, I should be more of a guide or assistant than outright educator. They most likely will not believe me or the professor when they are told that creating an online portfolio along with a physical portfolio is a full time project. It might not be a full time project if they have been thinking about their professional life or things that they have always wanted to use as an example of their work. If my capstone class is any indication, nobody has given that any thought at all.

Because I have previous experience, I know not to bludgeon them with a shit ton of information while asking them to get creative in a “This will be yours for the rest of your life kind of way.” My thoughts, at this moment is to start with the creative aspect first. Actually decide upon the following first:

  • Is this portfolio for a grade or is this portfolio the first step in establishing your professional persona?

It won’t matter to me, which way they answer in that I don’t care, but I want to know. Those who are doing it for the grade, will put in the perfunctory amount of work or close to it to pass. They will not need much in the way of anything from me other than reminders to meet goals. Those who want to go all out are the people will want the assistance and put forth the effort. Like I said, not really important to me which answer they give other than learning upfront who will be putting in the work and who will be waiting until the last moment.

After that question, time to show them a couple of portfolios and have them find a few on their own. Hopefully, for those on the fence, seeing what can be done and how creative portfolios can get will motivate them to try.

The main reason I am looking forward to Wednesdays, aside from assisting those who want the assist, is because my other self-motivated class is publishing online and in print 500 Words. Yes, that is right, publishing. I worry that if I was not around people who also had to produce something, sitting at home I might start to drift onto other projects and I do not want that.

My last semester is tomorrow and I am looking forward to the experience. What happens is another 500 Words…