"Master Dayton" might be humorous, (I mean if Ph.Ds are called "Doctors," shouldn't MFAs be called "Masters?") but in all seriousness I have made a living freelance writing and after several years I have tons of information I want to share to help out my fellow writers, regardless of age, experience, goals, situation, or background. This blog isn't pretty-but it will help if real freelance writing information is what you want.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

This Recession is Hard on Freelance Writers. Too.

Freelance Writers Are on Hard Times, Too

Usually during the past decade and change, a recession was not something that freelance writers had any reason to fear. In an odd pattern, technology had made it so that many times freelance writers were doing better in recession than out of it. When full time writers at companies were let go, and internships cut, the work still needed to get done.

Why pay an employee $15 an hour for an article (if employees on pay roll were even that proficient) plus paying 1/2 of their Social Security taxes (which all companies do for employees), plus pay matching 401-k, plus pay for the vacation days and sick days being piled up, plus unemployment taxes, plus pay for any insurance or bonuses when you can pay a freelancer $13-14 an article for the same level of work or better, with none of the extra expenses? Using a freelancer also eliminates overtime.

Because of this, during minor recessions many freelance writers would actually see more work, be able to charge fair market prices for their work, and actually make a pretty solid living without the same level of effort that it took when jobs were more scarce.

But this recession, which was barely prevented from being blown out into an all depression, things are different. This is the first time I've ever seen a dip in the economy that not only affected freelance writers the same way as every other profession, but flat out leveled a lot of the consistent work that I was used to seeing out there. Many of my friends who freelance said the same thing. Some saw their incomes slashed in half or worse, and the competition for the scraps that are still around is as fierce as it's ever been.

The "what to do about it" question is hard. Some writers are re-opening Guru.com or Elance.com accounts that they had ceased needing to use. Others have had to cut back heavily on the at home expenses. I lost my full time writing position (and dream job) back in November. I freelance a lot more to make up for the lost income, but I had to put all my student loans on deferment and am working harder than I've had to for the jobs that are available. There are more quality writers willing to work for less to fill the gap. My average hourly rate has also dropped from $16-18 an hour down to $10-11. There's simply not as many willing buyers at the higher level anymore, especially since there are good writers who are dropping down to the latter level, which is causing an avalanche effect.

So if you've been a fairly successful freelance writer and are now struggling, don't take it personally and don't question yourself. Right now it's a hard time for most freelance writers. All you can do is keep at it, build some passive income sources to help over the long term, and build yourself a solid base. If you can make it in this economy, you'll absolutely thrive when it starts to bounce back. If you're a beginner, don't let this post discourage you. If you can start from scratch and make it in this economy, you'll thrive when things turn around.

I just wanted to write this post because I haven't seen a lot of writing about how the current economy is affecting freelance writers, and I think this is a fair subject. Is online freelance writing still a place where people can go to make a nice side income, or even a full time income? Absolutely. But right now it is harder than it was 12 months ago, and I think it's important that writers of every level understand what the freelancing situation is right now.

That's all I have for now. I will say don't give up. The past month work has really picked up for me, and it's decent paying - not "oh holy shit I need to make rent by Friday" gap jobs. I've also noticed that ALL of my passive income streams (Associated Content, Constant-Content referrals, Squidoo, HubPages, AdSense, Affiliate sales, eHow, etc.) have increased for the third straight month. This is why passive income and making money online with more than one source is so important. Even if I did nothing for the next month, at a worst case scenario ((and when I say worst case, I take that phrase to a ridiculously improbably level)) that combination will still net me over $300.

During a recession that's nothing to sneeze at, especially when it's all coming from work that's been done and over with for months, if not years. Read this blog, including past posts, and if there's anything you want to know, don't be afraid to contact me. I'll help if I can. I'm a firm believer in what goes around comes around, and something at least akin to karma really does work in the Universe.

Until the next post, I hope everyone reading this is doing well, and don't be afraid of freelance writing during a recession. We all have to work through this, and the pay offs will be huge if you can just stick with it.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Master Dayton Freelance Writing: May Updates

Freelance Writing Blog Update

Hello all. First of all, thanks for the kind words from the many of you who have left comments or sent e-mails offering support during some hard personal times. Always greatly appreciated. The good news is that things have managed to work out better than I could have possibly hoped for, and this blog is far from dead. There will be far more posts in the future as I work towards a twice daily posting regiment. I also have some good friends and fellow writers who have agreed to do guest posts in the future, and I'm look forward to having them on here, as well.

There's even a chance of looking to move this blog to a much nicer location, maybe even with its own URL, but that's definitely further in the future if that's going to happen.

Anyway, there are a few things that are worth updating to this point:

There have been some really cool developments over the past couple months. Some of these are very specific to making money freelance writing, while others might be along the more general "make money online" arena - which also generally involves a lot of writing.

First of all, if you've read this blog for very long at all, you know I'm a big fan of Constant-Content. There have been a lot of changes over there recently. One update to those of you who have been writing there and maybe referring others: you now get 5% of the sale from a referred author, not 10%. Still, it comes from the website's cut, so this isn't a bad deal. Right now I'm seeing about $15-20 a month from referred sales, which is incredibly encouraging because this means some people have actually taken my advice and are working and earning some decent change writing for this website.

The Constant-Content website has undergone a really radical make over, and in my opinion it's definitely for the better. The site looks better, is easier to navigate, and that new $5 pay out level is definitely a huge plus. If you haven't been over there in a while, it's a good a time as ever to check it out.

#2 Freelance Writing Update: If you've been looking at HubPages (and the Google AdSense and Amazon/eBay affiliate sales that can come with it) but haven't taken that extra step to jump in yet, well now's the time to do so! One of the few gurus I subscribe to (even literally in this case) is Courtney Tuttle, and Courtney started the Hub Challenge. He is shooting for 100 hubs in 30 days to see what the full potential of earnings from HubPages can be. Many others who think 100 might be a little too ambitious, are shooting for 30 hubs in 30 days, which is the same route I'm taking.

What I love about this challenge is that it forces action, and that's the most important part of any freelance writing or online endeavor. If you haven't heard about this, but might be game to get started, take a detailed look at HubPages TOS (because they don't except purely promotional or pure crap hubs) and take a look at the details of the Hub Challenge here:


or here:


HubPages is a great way for writers to learn how online income sources like affiliate marketing and Google AdSense work while polishing (and showing off) your writing skills. Over time, there is also great potential here for passive income.

If you haven't signed up for HubPages and started in on the challenge, I strongly reccomend this as a way to get going. Even if you do something small, like 15 hubs in 30 days or even 10 in 30, at least you'll be doing something and you'll get started learning how the Internet works for those trying to write for money online.

#3 Freelance Writing Update: I'll have a myriad of detailed reviews coming soon, including one on eHow, now that I've written there long enough to have an idea of how viable it is for passive income. If you've looked at eHow, it has a very nice set up for authors, and I've been pretty impressed with the returns, especially considering how little I've "done things right," or the fact that I've done no keyword research and generally have wrote there sparingly as opposed to really hammering away at it. I'm thinking this summer maybe I'll have to do my own ehow challenge: 150 articles a month, for 450 in a summer. I did find my earnings went up considerably after reading WriterGig's ebook. I do reccomend it if you're serious about writing and earning on ehow.

A few final words for beginners: Get started! Take the time to write five great articles for Constant-Content and submit them after proofreading and review. Join the Hub Challenge and get some hubs going online! Pledge to write 500 ehow articles over the course of the year, but sign up and do something!

There will be a lot more information coming, even as I'm preparing for a move to the West Coast. Speaking of which, if anyone reading is familiar with the Bend, Oregon, area, and has some tips, feel free to contact me with any advice! Hope everyone is doing well. Take care, and I look forward to keeping this freelance writing blog up for the future. Thanks for reading, now go write!