I was thinking recently about the challenges I’ve endured as a freelance writer. When I began earning money for writing in 2007, I had not yet realized the difficulties I would face trying to find work as well as trying to be paid a decent wage for my skills. In the beginning all I wanted to do was write, so if someone offered me a mere $4.00 for a 600 word article …I took it. After a couple of years of trial and error I learned some things along the way. During this time I honed my skills and my writing improved. When people ask what I do for a living they seem rather impressed. What comes to mind when you think of a writer? For most people they envision someone who write’s novels and earns a handsome living from their recently published New York times Best Seller. I only wish that were the case with me. I’m not complaining by any means because I have the option of doing what I love for a living.
There are moments when I wish the potential client on the other end of the phone could really see what it’s like to walk in my shoes. First and foremost, I love to write. My father is a writer/story-teller, so I guess you can say it’s in my genes. I never take my gift for granted and I thank God every day for the ability to type with my aging arthritic fingers. But here’s the down low on what I have to do to obtain those writing gigs. After you read the following paragraphs stop and ask yourself: could you do what I do?
It all begins with trying to find writing jobs. As I scour the internet and WAH sites I realize just how competitive the writing field is. there are thousands of people just like me who have the ‘gift’ and spend hours scouring the internet trying to find a way to make money. For the past 9 years, the majority of my gigs have been granted by way of Craigslist. In the beginning, I was promised the moon and I actually believed it would be lassoed down to me. It took time, but I finally learned how to weed out the scam artists and read between the lines. I’ve been scammed out of money a few times, lied to, and left behind like dust in the wind. I’ve spent as much as 5 hours a day trying to find work with little or no success. I’ve had to take trips to food banks because Mother Hubbard’s cupboard was bare-try explaining there is no food to your 8-year-old son. I began with a spoonful of confidence and had to fake it until I made it. I had to borrow money, and ask for help because the work either wasn’t there or I just didn’t know where to look. Here I am 9 years later and although I still face some challenges I have not given up hope.
If you’re thinking about hiring me on as a writer, here’s what I’d like you to know. I’m not fresh out of high school, so please pay me my worth. I’ve worked for people who had servants and it was like trying to take a lollipop from a baby to try to get paid a decent wage. I am not greedy by any means, but I am the lone ranger here with a family to support. Ask yourself; would you work for what you’re asking me to work for? If you don’t have the time or cannot make those words shine and you need to hire someone, then you need me that being said please understand this is how I make a living! When I scan CL under writing gigs and see someone offering one cent per word my body goes into a funk. Really? So… you are unable to do the job but you expect me to write a 300-word article for $3.00? I apologize if this seems rude, but after the research involved and the final edit, I’ve just been paid less than a migrant workers wage. After spending 16 years in school and earning a BA in teaching I think I deserve more than $3.00 per hour, at least I would think.
I understand times are tough, I’m living proof of that. If you walked in my shoes you would see the footprints of a hard-working mom. If you walked down my path you would feel my stress as I scoured the internet trying to make ends meet. If you tried my shoes on you would spend countless hours trying to negotiate fair fees with clients, many of whom still try to pay you minimal wages for an exuberant amount of work. On a positive note: I have been blessed with some great clients who have seen my worth and they have paid me handsomely. I am grateful for all those clients and never take the hands that feed me for granted.
Lastly…here’s something I would like you to know. While freelance writing is a competitive field, I’m still in the game. Why do you ask? After nine years of ups and downs, I still have hope. After nine years of scouring CL, I still find jobs and have had the pleasure of working with some wonderful people. The only difference between now and a few years back is I’ve learned a thing or two. I’m sitting in the driver seat (more or less) and I determine how much I need to make for what I’m going to deliver. I’ve gained some confidence and it has been to my advantage. I also want you to know before I write for a client I ask the Lord to slow my mind down long enough so I can convey my words valiantly on paper (or the internet). My heart goes into everything I write, and for that reason alone is why I decided to write this ditty.
Thank You to each and every one of my clients who have helped put food on my table and provided for my family’s needs over the years. I am grateful for your patronage and look forward to providing you with more services in the future. I’ll leave you with this:
“You never really know a man until you understand things from his point of view until you climb into his skin and walk around in it”
To Kill a Mockingbird
Until next time….