There is a huge difference between being simple literate and a professional writer, just as there is a big difference between knowing conversational skills in a second language and being a translator. I recently read an article about language professionals giving away their work, which highlighted some very important points related to these professions. Some writers, translators and other language professionals feel forced to give away their work for free or very little money. It is a sad fact that many of these professionals are working incredibly hard and putting in a lot of time, only to be rewarding with little or no money.
All language professionals dedicate a lot of their time to learning about their profession and perfecting it. Unlike other careers, the learning process of creative careers is never complete. Endless learning, research and work goes in to being a perfectionist and professional in this industry. Extensive reading, writing, research, communication etc. is all an essential part of being the best that you can be and making an excellent, professional linguist.
To all of you linguists out there, if you feel like you are giving your work away for virtually nothing, then here are some points to consider:
Linguists, translators especially, have a skill that cannot always be learned by others quickly or easily. For e.g. translators offer a service to the public. They offer their skills as a speaker of at least two languages. Now, most people know that learning a new language is a challenging task and therefore means that a lot of time must go in to it. A translator must remember that to avoid giving their work away, they must realise that they have a skill that not everybody has. The fact that they know a second or third language, which they are able to use in a professional way, means that they have a skill that not everybody has. Clients may complain about your rates, but unless they want to spend years learning the language themselves, they must respect your rates and services.