Looking back over my earlier posts, I do seem to spend a lot of time and words carping about the status of the writing business. I think it’s because I’m stuck with the memory of what it was 20 and 30 years ago, when a freelancer could make a living working only 70 or 80 hours a week.
How to live with today’s five-dollar articles and penny-a-word product descriptions?
If you can do an article off the top of your head in half an hour, at five dollars per article you’re being paid at the just-above-minimum-wage rate of ten dollars an hour. That’s THE RATE OF; you have to do it again to actually earn ten dollars. And you have to do it all day every day to begin to turn it into a living. I’d be interested to hear from people doing this successfully.
I’ve conceded before that there has to be someplace for new people to break in, and you’re not going to be paid reasonably until you’ve shown what you can do. But looking up the profiles of people I’m competing with, there’s some pretty heavy talent out there. I haven’t been bidding entirely against penny-a-word beginners. So how can prices be so low?
I guess it’s possible, what with the economy as it’s been the past couple of years, that there may be a greater-than-usual number of hungry writers around, good ones among them. But another possibility is that buyers are going for the low bid, taking pot luck on the results; If I can get the message across, who cares? Sure, the mantra in work descriptions is “perfect punctuation, grammar, and spelling,” but so what? You can lose all the vowels in most written English words nd stll snd n ndrstndbl mssg.
While I can remember something of the Great Depression, I don’t want to re-live it, and I don’t feel I want to come down to 1930s pay rates. The result has been that searching the online job listings has changed for me since I came back to freelancing two-and-a-half years ago. It’s gone from actually looking for work to mostly collecting material for my blog about outrageously low-paying job offers. It’s a great source of material. More to come.