Monday, February 8, 2010

Freelancing: Homey Don't Play Dat

There are many reasons I don't do freelance writing.

First of all, there are a lot of writers out there better than me. And more aggressive. And more aggressively better. These are the types who get the good freelance gigs. And I'm happy for them. I prefer the mundane stability of a regular writing job.

Then there are the other reasons, some of which are outlined at this post at the "Reflections of a Newsosaur" blog. Basically put: There are many, many, many people out there willing to take advantage of writers to produce copy for free. or next to free which, if you ask me, is even more insulting.

I have done some freelance writing. A few years ago, I did a couple thousand dollars' worth for a company in Utah. For my first freelancing gig, I felt well-paid, especially considering at the time -- and nothing leads me to believe thigns have changed -- sites looking for freelance writers were paying pennies on the dollar for well-honed copy or the ephermal promise of "exposure" for writing just for free.

I got squeezed out of the freelancing gig because, with each assignment completed, I upped the asking price for the next one, as an experiment to see how far I could push that ceiling. It wasn't long before I found out that, yes indeed, it could be pushed too far. Though that makes me sound as a gold-digger, I ought to say this: Even at the last, highest price for which they contracted my work, I was making far less per hour invested in the work than I felt I was worth -- and that's not just me expressing delusions of adequacy, either. My full-time job was paying well over three times an hour than what I was making doing the freelance work. Then the company I was freelancing for got sold, and they changed how they do things, so that source of revenue -- and experimentation -- dried up.

As far as exposure goes, I've got two outlets. This blog, read by dozens, and, read by, at this point, hundreds. Hopefully, those latter numbers will increase as time goes on. That's the goal, anyway. Yes, I write on this blog and for Uncharted for free. The blog will always be free, barring any cataclysmic event that suddenly makes my day-to-day babblings monetizable. And we eventually hope to make money at Uncharted. Cross those fingers tightly.

I don't feel bad not being in the freelance world, because it's nasty out there.Nutter, at the Newsosaur blog, is right to say that writers sell themselves too short if they don't fight for livable wages for what they produce. Part of the problem is that maybe we make it appear too easy -- though we know it's not. Anyone can write in this day and age, but it's still a far smaller group of people who can write well. That brings the Susan Hill posting to mind, which I quoted earlier this month.

Nutter's post brings to mind the old saw about keeping crabs in a bucket. Put one crab in there, it'll get out. Put two in, and neither will escape, becasue as one crawls out, the other will pull it back in. I'd love to see the rewards for freelance writing go up in general. But that's not going to happen as long as there are writers out there willig to exchange their birthright for a few pennies or for "exposure." You want pennies? Work at McDonalds. You want exposure? Just write and write and write and write some more. Then write even more. And more. Then go outside without a coat on. That'll give you all the exposure you need.

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