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Freelancer Problems

Yeah, yeah. Every writer’s blog has a whole series devoted to this kind of stuff. We all know it. Freelancer Problems. But, a post popped on up facebook today that wouldn’t let me go. And since I’m also getting back into freelancing on a regular basis, I thought there was no better place to start than here:

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Posts like this go around all the time. In fact, there’s a whole series of videos from a rock and metal producer on YouTube and he talks about the costs of producing and why you pay for what you get. But today, it stuck with me. Maybe because the guy who posted it is one of my freelance clients and I really like him. He also can’t pay me for my work.

Gotta say it – I feel nothing but sympathy for the producers getting bullshit like this sent to them. But writers are expected to accept as little as NOTHING for our work. All in the name of exposure. I love writing, I love doing it, and I will take on limited projects for free, especially while rebuilding a portfolio that used to kick ass. But writers have families to feed too, and paid work is often as little as $.01 cent a word. A 150 word article can take anywhere from 1-2 hours to write, when you put in research and editing. So, when you do the math, I’m making $1.50 an hour, if that article only takes an hour to do.

So put that in perspective:

If a writer has a full time day job to support their family, that eats up 8-10 hours of their day. Come home, get settled into the night, deal with family, etc. That leaves anywhere from 5-6 hours to write. That sounds great. But let’s say a 200 article takes 2 hours to write, including research, writing, editing, and submission. And then that writer has to wait to find out if they are going to be paid their $2.00 for that time. While waiting, they accept another “job” but this one doesn’t pay. This is a review of a TV show. Which means that it’s at least an hour to watch the show, another hour to research the history of the show, and then at least an hour to write a 500 word review and edit. All for no pay. And then, it’s bedtime. So if the writer is lucky, they’ve made $2.00 for 5 hours of work.

Yes. Writing, like art, like music, it’s all about the blood and sweat and tears that are put into projects. A novelist who is just getting started will toil and toil and toil for years, staying up late into the night while crafting those perfect 90,000 words and there is a good chance that not a cent will be paid back for that time. Just like a musician will work a dead end telemarketing job to fund an album. And an artist will sell canvasses for $25 at local coffee shops.

But the fact is, writers are expected to put up with a lot of abuse and the argument is that there is someone else in line who is willing to do it. And more and more, jobs that pay, pay based on the number of “clicks” to a website. Which means that really, the owner of the site is making the money. For the record, there are sites that pay real money and there are countless blogs and facebook pages out there dedicated to making sure that writers are aware of the markets that pay.

I don’t mean to ramble and I don’t mean to make this about money. Because writers will write. We’ll write until our fingers bleed and the carpal tunnel is so bad we can’t sleep. We’ll live on coffee and lose partners and we understand how lonely ramen tastes.

But really, my point is, I’d like to see more of these text message memes pop up about writers having to accept this kind of work. Period.

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