"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.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Angry Freelance Writing Blogger Rant

It's This Writer's Ranting Time

For all those of you who remember my last freelance writing blog rant, no worries. This one won't be nearly as long. I promise I don't have 5,246 words more in me for this one :) The short topic of this post is jack asses. If you go around writing blogs that are online, you'll find a lot of them. It's unfortunate. Most are trolls who claim to make a lot more than they probably even dream of, while bashing everyone else. You can usually identify these "writers" because they never leave a link in their comments and say absurd things like "every college educated writer should earn $40 an hour out of college." Once in a while, you get an arrogant jerk who does make six figures writing and so in some ways can back up their arguments.

I don't like jerks. Most writers I've talked to are very friendly and helpful. But you get a few who just seem obsessed with being perceived as better than everyone else. What amazed me was some of the slamming that was going on of Demand Studios. Now I've only been writing there for a little over three months, and I have had a few copy editors who seemed to be asking a ridiculous amount of work in revision to get paid for an article, but to say that $20 an hour or more is peanuts and a disgrace...has anyone seen what the majority of online writers have been paid recently?

Now the $20 an hour is assuming a few things. The easiest way to get there is if you prove yourself with other articles and end up with "specialty" requests. But Fact Sheet articles take all of 10-15 minutes to write, and those are $7.50 each. A $15 shouldn't take a full 60 minutes, either, so a determined writer has the ability to get up to $20 an hour. It takes time to learn what this site is looking for with each type of article and to become proficient at writing to the template, but that's true of any writing job.

Once you get going, $20 an hour is not an unreasonable average, and that's over $40,000 a year, an amount that over 90% of freelance writers will never come remotely close to. I can write a $20 article in 45 minutes based on what Demand Studios is looking for. Finding and recording contact information for hotels and restaurants honestly takes me more time than the rest of the writing. Another advantage of Demand Studios: there's always more work. ALWAYS. I can write between projects, I can write for money at 3 a.m. or I can do $200 in a day if the bills are stacking up.

In fact, I expect my DS income next year will pay off all of my credit card debt and max out my IRA in addition to helping me cover rent, bills, student loans, etc.

So why the arrogance? One particular blogger went on and on about "moving to the next level" or "pushing yourself to the next plane." This person is an accomplished magazine writer, which is why the arrogance surprised me. Print mediums are dying. While I believe there will always be a print market, there are far fewer magazines now than there were 20 or even 10 years ago. That means if said blogger is writing 50 high paying articles a year for magazines, that's 50 assignments that no other writer can get.

There is a very small amount of room for top notch freelance magazine writers. Even ignoring this, there's the skill issue. Some writers are good writers. Not very good, not great, and they're never going to be. But if they can write clean writing in template form, they can make $20 an hour for a very solid living.

A second issue I have with the snobs: some of us started in a hole. We have to make rent, we have to make student loan payments, we have to pay medical bills. There is no 6 month severance, no connections from days in Academics. For a person who needs to start and get a decent income now to keep from being homeless doesn't have time for 40 hours of unpaid work a week "pushing for the next plane as a writer." I'm all about constantly pushing for the next level, but there's no reason not to make $40,000 a year while doing it. Have you seen what adjunct professors make for a living while trying to break into tenure status? Ashley and Justus - feel free to rant for paragraphs in the comments about that one!

Finally, it's one thing to bash a company or bash writers for their choices, but in the end we each have to find our own path. I've tried for 2 years to break into major magazines. So far nothing and no interest. Some trade magazine articles, but none of the major ones I've tried for. I do have some very high level clients - in fact there are some highly technical Forex reports I write weekly for about $42.67 an hour. But that's only a 3 hour a week job on average, and there isn't any more where that comes from. Would I like to make $43 an hour as a freelance writer all the time? Sure - but I'm going to be an idiot who starves to death if I don't find something to fill the gap of the other 37 hours a week.

Finally, $15-20 an hour is a great way for college students to make money on the side, or to even learn what they need to about the editing process and freelance writing to start their own business. For those of us who have lived wondering how to make the rent check, having the ability to make a couple hundred dollars in a few days is HUGE.

So my rant to all the jerks out there (the ones who can actually back up what they say, the idiots who never leave a link are pretty obvious frauds) is simple: help out or shut up. If you don't want your name on an online article, then don't write online. As for the rest of us, well I've learned long ago that pride is overrated, and overvalued. I write well, and I write what they want. Not going to be put down for delivering what they ask for, and I'll continue to get paid for being a freelance writer.