I’ve recently been pounding the pavement in search of some new clients and projects to plump up my freelance work. I know, after so many years in this industry, that I shouldn’t be shocked at what I found, but I was. I am.
There are a lot of postings out there seeking qualified writers for a variety of projects, from websites to tech writing to articles to proposals. Each posting lists the criteria for applicants: years of experience, education, flexible schedule to accommodate the work load. And then the shoe drops. The money.
I can’t count the number of sites that offer $0.002/word – yes, that is a fraction of a penny--or demand 3 researched articles per day for a 5-day work-week for $3 per article. Really? How can that possibly seem like a fair wage to anyone?
The best yet are those sites offering nothing at all. I saw one ad that demanded timely stories, high-profile interviewees, “fearless writing with the ability to leave long-lasting impressions on readers and spark continuous new dialogues that elevate the target audience.” The pay is $0.00 “however, numerous benefits.”
Benefits – like what, exactly? By-lines? Got lots of those. By-lines don’t pay the mortgage or get kids registered for soccer or lacrosse. Exposure? Yep – see above.
I think the problem is everyone fancies themselves writers and people don’t appreciate the craft, the art, the intelligence that good, effective writing requires. It’s not valued so it’s not compensated. I’ve seen countless websites and promotional materials (and sadly, news briefs) that are so wrought with errors and convoluted thought processes that they are almost unreadable. Everyone can write? Obviously not.
So I continue to search for new opportunities that will actually balance the effort and result I can offer with the cheque at the other end. I quickly scroll past those with “unknown” budgets or those promising anything but a fair wage, knowing my words are worth way more than one-fifth of a penny a piece.