Write for 1¢ a word? Are you nuts?
Recently, I’ve joined a group of experienced professional writers from all over the country who are mad as hell about the devaluation of their work because of low-balling “writers” (a.k.a. “word whores”) who will work for 1¢ a word.
There always will be “price buyers.” Any client who gives a writing project to the lowest bidder is probably not a client you want. If your relationship starts out on a money-grubbing basis, it’s probably going to stay that way throughout the project. First, there will be unanticipated changes in direction, then there will be innumerable rewrites (all supposed to be covered by your initial bid, which is why I prefer to estimate, not bid). A contract may help. Or not.
Advice to myself and other freelance writers:
Price buyers are out there, but so are decent, honest clients who value your work and will pay accordingly. Seek them out.
Something I read the other day rang true: if something is easy for you to do, you don’t value it very highly. When a writer underestimates the value of his or her skills and talents, s/he may feel a pang of guilt about getting paid for doing something s/he loves to do and probably has been doing since s/he could hold a pencil in his or her chubby little fist. If you feel guilty about getting a reasonable amount of money for your work, get over it.
Remember, few people can dress an idea in just the right word-clothing the way you do. So you deserve to get PAID for your art, craft, skill and talent. And if you went to college or university to learn about how to do it, remember those student loans you paid off, or are still paying off. Get the money.
The blogosphere is a gaping maw that demands to be fed with words. Like a coal furnace in a ship’s engine room, it must have fuel shoveled into it continually to keep it “hot.” The blog-fuel is the “articles” these speed-typing drones crank. Their work is not, shall we say, of the highest quality. But quality is not a concern for most owners of monetized blogs. The writing is just the obligatory filling between pay-per-click advertisements.
Cheap writing is a great deal for Demand Studios, Examiner.com and countless other businesses that are making billions by crushing writers’ pay scales. Do you resent this? I do. But it’s the writers’ fault. The blog owners put their rates out there, and the writers self-select by saying, “Yes, I’m very, very cheap. Cheaper than anybody. I’ll write for 1¢ per word. This other guy is cheaper? Okay, I’ll write for 1/2¢ a word!”
Writers need to eat and have roofs over their heads. And they need money to pay outrageous individual health insurance premiums. One very good, very famous writer is mad as hell about writers (especially himself) getting cheated out of their due: Harlan Ellison. The following YouTube clip is from a documentary I saw on IFC. Watch it whenever you need to be bucked up in your quest for decent pay. To the barricades!