Tag Archives: piece of advice

An Open Letter To Freelancers


To My Fellow Freelancers,

I know it’s tough out there. We’re all out there, competing for the same clients, trying to make a decent wage. We all want people to appreciate our craft and it is only fair that we are paid a decent wage for our talent.

So why, praytell, do some of you choose to, for the lack of a better phrase, screw us over?

Now, some of you know exactly what I am talking about, while others are probably clueless. So for you poor, clueless wonders out there (Bless your hearts!), here is some advice from someone who’s been fighting the good fight as a freelancer for many many years.

Piece of Advice #1: $1 for 500 words is not good money. It’s not even money. When you see a proposal or ad for a writer with this kind of rate, you should ignore it and move on. You don’t apply for it, and you DEFINITELY don’t compete with others for the “privilege”. There are better gigs out there.

Piece of Advice #2: Get a portion up front. Yes, I know many potential “clients” don’t like to pay deposits, but I bet they don’t work for free, so why should you? Taking on a project without an upfront payment is, like it or not, WORKING FOR FREE and you need to stop doing it. Now.

Piece of Advice #3: If a client places a bid and the pay range is $20 – $30 per hour, do not, I repeat, DO NOT place a bid for $16, $17, $18, $19 or even $19.99. If they are willing to pay a minimum of $20, LET THEM. They’re supposed to. Our work has value — stop diminishing it.

Piece of Advice #3.5 Did I mention that $1 for 500 words is NOT good money? I did? Well, it deserves to be repeated. Matter of fact, one more time: $1 FOR 500 WORDS IS NOT GOOD MONEY.

Piece of Advice #4: Writing for content mills and just content mills does not make you a freelance writer. Freelancers don’t just write for one place — they write for many places, and many freelancers write in several genres. Saying you’re a freelancer because you write for DMS is like claiming to be a seamstress because you hemmed a pair of pants. The seasoned people are going to ask the same thing, “Okay, so you did that. What else ya got? What else have you done?”

[Note — the above is not meant to sound harsh, but seriously, if you really REALLY want to be taken seriously as a freelance writer, you need to pursue other avenues. Otherwise, you do look like a one-trick pony.]

See, here’s the thing that many of you in the freelancing world do not seem to understand: We will be paid what WE determine is fair. The reason our pay is less than a fry cook at McDonalds is because we have ALLOWED our craft to be devalued. Yeah, we can blame global competition, and it is true it is hard to compete with someone for whom $50 is a week’s wages — but that cannot prevent us from demanding that we be paid what we are worth. And to best way to make our demand is by refusing to work for the pennies clients are offering.

So, please, the next time you’re applying for gigs and you are tempted to agree to create blog posts for $0.005 a post, stop and think: does this seem fair? Is it really worth it? Then walk away.

Or could do like I do: shoot the poster a message such as this:

Hello~

I recently came across your ad on __________. I have to say, I found your payment terms insulting to both me and my craft. Writing is not an easy profession — to become merely proficient takes time and practice, and for you to want to pay me less than a truck stop busboy in return for my experience is laughable. Please reconsider your payment arrangement, or consider going to said truck stop and hiring the bus boy to do your writing for you. Any writer with an ounce of pride in his craft is not going to consider your offer. 

Regards,

A Talented Writer Looking Elsewhere.

I hope you will consider my humble and sincere request.

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