Tag Archives: Big fish

A Writer’s Worth

Getting paid to write had been a dream of mine for YEARS.

Well, lemme rephrase that — getting paid to write WHAT I WANTED was a dream of mine for years. I’ve been a professional writer since 199(mumble mumble), but most of my writing career was writing stuff I had NO INTEREST in what-so-ever. It was truly writing for the paycheck.

So when I jumped back into the freelance arena in 2008, I decided that this time around, I was only going to write what I wanted to write, and I was not going to have a boss, past the editor or client who offered me the gig.

The first two years were a struggle. I kept true to one half of my promise — I didn’t have a boss per se. But I was still writing things I didn’t particularly want to write about. Not that the topics were distasteful, just kinda boring for me, mainly because I couldn’t put enough of my own spin on the topics. And the pay was two steps above abysmal. But I kept working — I kept writing the boring titles and tried to find others that were more interesting to try and break up the monotony. I found it pretty ironic that the more interesting titles paid less than the more boring ones, but I’m pretty sure that was because of the differences in the topics.

By 2010, I was making not great, but decent money writing full-time. But I had grown tired of writing for peanuts (which was an improvement over the “writing for pennies” I had been doing in ’08 and 09).  I knew it was time for me to branch out and go for the bigger clients. So, that’s what I did. I started applying and querying larger clients in August 2010.

By November, things started to take off. In December, things picked up even more.

Now, in 2011, I have No COMPLAINTS about my writing career. OK — so I do complain, but it’s more “Oh good God, where am I going to find the time to do all this?!?”

So, no — no complaints.

So, what’s the point of this blog post?

I have friends who are writers, some of whom started their careers WAY before I started (or actually restarted) mine.  Some make me look like a amateur. But others — well…

They’re afraid to go for the bigger clients. I’m not sure why, but they are. Which in and of itself, I could understand.


These same writers are the ones who constantly whine and complain that they don’t make enough money to pay their bills, or they have to write a ridiculous amount of words just to make a decent income.

Uh, Hello!

It doesn’t take a PhD in Rocket Science or Mathematics to realize that if you want to make more money writing less, then you have to make more money per assignment. But apparently this concept is lost on many, so lemme break it down for ya:

You write for four different clients. Each client pays you $25 per 500 word article. You want to make $1000 a month writing.

$1000/$25 per article = 40 articles.

40 articles/4 different clients = 10 articles per client.

Not impossible. But imagine if you wanted to make $1500 a month, or $2000 a month?

You can see how it could get pretty hectic and a writer could burn out.

However, if the writer above took on bigger/better paying clients…

You write for four different clients. Each client pays you $100 per 500 word article. You want to make $1000 a month writing.

$1000/$100 per article = 10 articles.

10 articles/ 4 different clients = 2.5 articles per client.

(Ok…so no one is actually going to write half an article for a client and submit it for payment, so let’s say you write 3 articles per client, which is 12 articles total)

3 articles @ $100 per article = $300 per client.

$300 per client X 4 clients = $1200.

Hum…so to summarize: 40 articles for $1000 or 12 articles for $1200?

I don’t know about you, but personally, I think going after the bigger clients is worth the risk. And maybe now that I did the math, some of my writer friends will feel the same way too.

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Catfish, Trout or Tuna?

I love a good piece of fried catfish, though fresh tuna in a salad is rather yummy as well. Not a fan of trout.

But that’s not really what this post is about. Go ahead, breathe a sigh of relief.

Now, the reason for the title was to segue to this question: Which would you rather be: a big fish in a small pond or a small fish in a big pond?

Ponder that for a moment. I’ll wait.

insert Jeopardy Theme here

Know your answer? Good.

Anyone who has been in the writing field for more than five minutes knows three things: it’s pretty cutthroat, you need a thick skin and for as large as the industry is, is a pretty small community. To get anywhere, you have to be determined, lucky and resilient.  Skill and talent helps, but as we’ve all witnessed at least once, this is not really a requirement.

For years I wanted to be the BIG FISH IN THE BIG POND. Anything less than that would have meant failure.

Well after years of working and sacrificing my family and social life, the best I managed was medium-sized fish in a medium-sized pond.

But that was enough to tell me one thing — although I might like to be the Big Fish in the Big Pond, I was NOT willing to do the things I would need to do to get there.

My grandfather had two sayings that I still embrace:

Pap-pap saying #1: Locks are for honest people.

Pap-pap saying #2: No man has ever become rich without stepping on the backs of others.

Both of these sayings have molded how I have treated my career. I am more than capable of being a big fish, and in many ways, I am. What I am NOT willing to do, however, is kiss up, step on and screw over other fish to be the big fish in the big pond. I’d first become the diner special of the day or sacrifice myself for sushi.

So all that to say, I’d rather be the big fish in the small pond. I prefer helping the smaller fishies, and if they use me as a springboard to the big pond, more power to them.  I’m happy in my small pond, doing what I love, snacking on kelp and happily swimming in my self-made paradise.

But a warning to all you small fishies out there that are looking to usurp me and the medium and big fish that couldn’t hack the big pond — don’t think I won’t bite you. This is MY pond. I might prefer kelp, but don’t think I won’t eat a goldfish, trout, catfish or tuna that tries to cross me.

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