Get paid! 3 things you shouldn’t do for “free”

Increasingly, it seems like clients are demanding more for writers. And, while there are things you can do to make yourself more valuable, like understanding SEO best practices, it doesn’t mean you should let a client take advantage of you.

Here are three things you shouldn’t do for your clients — unless they’re ready to pay a premium.

1. Keyword research

There are people who specialize in keyword research and SEO strategy. And they get paid a lot. While you want to be aware of best practices, including using keywords in headings and not stuffing them, you shouldn’t be in charge of finding keywords or coming up with a strategy to improve SEO.

As a writer, you’re there to provide content to help with SEO strategy, but you don’t make the strategy. If someone is asking you to research keywords and create SEO strategy, ask for more money. 

In fact, if you’re knowledgeable enough to be doing that stuff, you should be paid for that separately. SEO strategy and optimization is a completely different “job” and it should be treated — and compensated — as such.

2. Social media promotion

This one tends to get a little sticky and a little controversial. Miranda is willing to tweet an article she’s published, and share something on LinkedIn — once. On her own timetable, and without strings attached. This is a courtesy that doesn’t take up much time and can lead to additional work.

HOWEVER, if a client insists that you share something on social media, and they expect you to do it a certain amount of times and within a certain time frame, and that you target specific platforms, that’s a whole different story. Social media promotion is a different job than providing content. If you’re being asked to do it as part of a gig, you should tack on a premium. 

Social media promotion is something that specialists get paid for. Expecting you to do it as part of your gig as a writer is overstepping.

3. Images and formatting

Perhaps if a client gives you the login for their image library account and asks to add a featured image, you can let this slide. But if you’re expected to provide special formatting (like a slideshow) and curate multiple images, that’s another item you should charge a premium for.

Miranda has a client that often asks for slide shows. Those posts pay twice as much as a regular article, even though the word count is similar, because there’s extra work that goes into finding images for each slide and formatting the post properly.

If you’re being asked to create infographics, manage data or hunt down images on your own, it’s time to ask for more money. These are, once again, specialized jobs that fall outside the scope of content writing.

Ask for what you’re worth

There are plenty of other tasks, like creating rating systems for reviews, managing survey data, and creating videos and podcasts, that you might be asked about. Don’t roll that into the cost of writing your article. Instead, make it clear that those are separate jobs, and will be charged as such. You’re not responsible for every element of the article or post — just the words.