Posts Tagged ‘writer pay’

Is This Inappropriate Emotion Killing Your Freelance Writing Income?

Posted in Blog on March 16th, 2014 by Carol Tice – 70 Comments

I’ve got a question for you today, writers. How do you feel about your freelance writing clients?

I ask because today’s topic is just that — the feelings we have for our clients. Because business isn’t all dollars and cents. It’s also relationships. Our clients are people, too.

Some of the feelings we have for them are appropriate and useful feelings, such as enjoying a client’s easygoing personality or the feeling of satisfaction that comes from successfully completing a complex writing assignment.

But some feelings freelance writers have are sadly misplaced, and really hurt your ability to earn a good living as a freelancer. Check out what a couple of writers said to me recently, and I think you’ll start to see why I’ve put that big-eyed dog up as the photo for this post:

“My client is great and has given me a rave review on LinkedIn. I’ve worked with him for years, and continue to out of loyalty, even though the pay isn’t the best.”–Shari

“I’ve been writing for a ‘content mill’ and I do enjoy the work. It’s varied, the people who run it are genuinely lovely, and the man in charge has been happy to give me advice, and permission to email examples of work to clients, even though we publish without our own names on the work.

“Of course the pay is very low. I earn a penny a word (in the UK). But I have some loyalty to them, because they’ve really helped me out.

“I’m a qualified librarian (my degree is in English linguistics and literature, and my postgrad librarianship qualification is in information management). I can write well. Any suggestions?”-April

Yes, April, I have suggestions. Let’s start with this:

Don’t be misled

As you can see, some freelance writers are highly susceptible to the problem of misplaced loyalty.

We fall in love with our clients and stick with them, even though if they are radically underpaying us. When we should run for the hills instead.

We say they’re lovely people, even as they compensate us so little we couldn’t buy a bag of groceries with a week’s pay.

Let me drop the scales from your eyes, folks: While you are doggedly sticking with these clients out of “loyalty,” your client has no such similar feelings for you.

Try asking for a raise to an appropriate professional freelance wage, and you’ll see just how loyal your low-paying clients really are.

Then you’ll see this has been a one-way relationship all along. It’s you, being used by a crummy client. It’s a dysfunctional relationship like an abusive marriage.

It will only end when you decide to quit. Because the client has a great deal — a wonderful writer they’re getting for a song!

If they find another writer who will work for less, they’ll drop you in a minute. Make no mistake.

Why we cling

There’s one other point to consider about why writers hang onto to crummy clients.

Often, it’s because getting rid of them would mean admitting that you’re just spinning your wheels here. You’re filling your time with work that’s not paying your bills, and often isn’t even building your portfolio.

Also, that you need to be out marketing yourself to find better clients. If you really hate marketing, you tell yourself loyalty is the reason you can’t do any right now.

After all, loyalty is such a wonderful quality, right? You wouldn’t fault yourself for being loyal.

But you should, when it’s aimed in the wrong direction — one that could cost you your dream of earning a living as a freelance writer.

Where your loyalty should lie

Anytime you catch yourself experiencing feelings of loyalty to a low-paying client — wishing you had better clients but feeling you should stick with this loser just because they’re already a client, and you have all this history together…stop.

Take a step back.

And ask yourself this important question: Why are you in business?

I’d bet it’s to pay your bills, or to feed your family. The people in your life who depend on you — they are the people who deserve your loyalty.

Your business that helps those people is what you should be loyal to. If you don’t care about it and make it grow, nobody else will.

You need to act in the best interest of your business, before you run out of money and have to take a day job. That is priority one.

Otherwise, you’re not a business, you’re a charity. And soon you might be a charity case, too.

How to move on

Don’t delude yourself that nice people who underpay you are still good clients. They’re not. They  are sucking the life out of your business and putting your freelance writing business at risk of failure.

I know…but they’re so nice! Maybe when you chat on Skype they are. But really, they’re screwing you.

If you need to, here’s an exercise that may help: Put up a poster next to your computer with your low-paying client’s face and a little talk balloon that says, “I don’t pay you fairly, and I don’t care about you.”

Then remember that every minute you spend on a low-paying freelance writing client is a minute you’re not out finding the clients who will pay you what you need and deserve for your hard work.

Are misplaced loyalties holding back your writing career? Leave a comment and tell us about it.

Your 10 Favorite Posts of the Year About Freelance Writing & Blogging

Posted in Blog on January 7th, 2014 by Carol Tice – 8 Comments

Top 10As I start a new year with this blog, I always have one question on my mind — what do readers of  Make a Living Writing need to know most?

One way I’m finding out is with my subscriber survey (I emailed you secret intel on the results yesterday, subscribers).

The other way is to take a look at my traffic data from the past year and determine the most-read new posts that went up in 2013. I always get interesting insights from looking at my best-of list.

I like to share that list here on the blog, because new subscribers may not have seen all those posts on the first go-round.

Here’s the list of the most popular posts of 2013:

  1. 100+ Websites That Pay Writers – OK, no shocker here — writers would like to know about paying markets! If you haven’t checked this list in a bit, you might want to check it out again, as there have been a few additions and updates.
  2. Can You Really Earn a Living as a Freelance Writer? — Apparently this question is uppermost in many minds. Check out our lively discussion of whether anyone is really earning a living freelancing or if it’s all bunk.
  3. 5 Reasons Why Demand Studios Only Pays Writers Peanuts — and Won’t Change — Providing analysis of what content mills are doing and how that space is changing is both popular around here, and in my view, a public service. My background as a business reporter has allowed me to delve into what’s going on behind the scenes, now that Demand’s parent company is publicly traded and has to disclose the gory details about how they’re failing.
  4. The Truth About How Much Freelance Writers Make — This post features links to several resources with data on actual professional rates for a wide variety of writing gigs, as well as a checklist of questions to help determine what you should charge.
  5. 3 Simple Ways to Find Better-Paying Freelance Writing Jobs — I’m definitely sensing a theme here. This one’s got tips on some basic changes to make to your marketing that will set you on course to find better clients.
  6. The New Freelance Writer’s Quick-and-Simple Guide to Getting Started — About half of readers here are brand-new to either writing or freelancing, so I thought it’d be useful to put together a basic nuts-and-bolts post of how you start building a portfolio and getting paying clients. Apparently, you agree. Stay tuned for more focused new-writer help coming in 2014.
  7. The Essential Item You Need for Freelance Success That No One Dares Name — I burst a few bubbles with this post and possibly angered some wannabe writers, but it needed to happen. Give it a read and see if you’ve got what it takes.
  8. 7 Simple Fixes for the Writing Mistakes That Brand You an Amateur — When I first started this blog, I think I didn’t devote enough time to discussing the craft of writing. But many readers are looking for tips to hone their writing abilities. Expect more in this department this year.
  9. The Reality of Writing for Content Mills — 14 Writers’ True Stories — This one gives you a slice of content mill life from writers who’ve done it. The ever-changing rules, the random banishments, the inscrutable editors, the embarrassingly skimpy paychecks…it’s all here, straight from the horses’ mouths.
  10. Why Would Anyone Pay $100 for a Blog Post? — Enlightenment on why some websites pay a lot more to pro bloggers. Useful stuff for writers who have only seen offers for paid blogging pay $1-$20 a post.

You might notice that this list differs a lot from my popular posts sidebar you see on the right. Why is that? The sidebar is a list of the most popular posts of all time, since this blog started in 2008.

One interesting thing I notice is with the exception of the content mill post that is like a 14-writer guest post collaboration, there are no guest posts on this year’s top-10 list. That’s a change from the 2012 list, where three of the top ten were guests. Guess I’ll have to be pickier than ever on the guest posts I approve.

What was your favorite recent post about freelance writing? Feel free to put ONE link in your comment — more than that will send you to my spam.

6 Figures in Year Two: One Writer’s Success Tips

Posted in Blog on October 23rd, 2013 by Editor – 39 Comments

Ring the BellBy Shawndra Russell

If you’re a writer, you should be skipping in the streets, because we are needed more than ever.

Evidence: I was able to ramp my writing business to six figures by the end of my second year freelancing.

Some writers bemoan the fact that magazines and newspapers pay less per word or that attention spans are shorter.

If you want to write books, well, that’s a lost cause, too. More books than ever are published every day, so you have no chance of standing out, and fat advances have disappeared.

Plus newsrooms are shrinking, and becoming a staff writer is nearly impossible because no one hires salaried writers, right?

Snap out of it


This is the best time to be a writer because our words are needed more than ever. Copyblogger boldly declared  2013 The Year of the Online Writer, and I wholeheartedly agree.

As everyone desperately tries to make their voices heard, well-written, useful writing stands out.

The never-ending need for high-quality content means professional writers can write not only for media outlets but every single business on the planet — everyone is now in the business of storytelling and content marketing.

Maybe this isn’t the kind of writing you had in mind, but why not embrace it?

I’ve rapidly built a six-figure writing business because I write freelance articles and publish books — and provide content services for businesses. The content might be a tweet, Facebook post, or blog post, but no matter what it is, each item boils down to delivering stories in clever, engaging ways.

Expand your horizons

So how did I start landing these business-writing gigs? I pitched entrepreneurs the same way I do editors.

Small business owners are so overwhelmed that they aren’t creating job postings seeking writers. They just continue to push this need aside or slap something together and publish it themselves. The business owners I’ve approached have all been thrilled to hand over their content to-do lists.

I’ve written newsletters, blog posts, social media content, emails, website copy, brochure copy, guest blogs, and press releases for these busy entrepreneurs, and you can, too.

The very first entrepreneur I pitched was someone I’d read about in a local magazine. I emailed saying I loved his product and asked if he needed help with digital marketing. I worked for a low rate so I could get one client under my belt, and the rest is history.

I continue to work with small businesses but have also worked as the social media manager for a $2 billion global snack food brand. As writers, the possibilities for new sources of income are all around us.

Be the hero

You can be the hero for these business owners.

You can see if they don’t have a current blog, don’t have a solid social media presence, or need new website copy, and then approach them with your services. And you can deliver what they need because you are a content master.

Maybe this type of content is different than what you typically tackle, but if you want to break into six-figure earnings, you’ll accept the challenge and embrace these alternative revenue streams.

Have you tried online writing for businesses? How did you land your first gig? Tell us in the comments.

Shawndra RussellShawndra Russell is tourism and lifestyle brand journalist and the Savannah correspondent for Forbes Travel Guide. She recently released the eguide How to Become a Freelance Writer in 30 Days

How I Scored Great Clients Off My Low Paid Content Mill Gig

Posted in Blog on October 2nd, 2013 by Editor – 47 Comments

Freelance writers need stepping stonesBy Angie Mansfield

We all know how Carol feels about freelance writing content mills, and I absolutely agree with her.

They’re not a way to make a good living.

But can you ever make a mill job work for you? I did.

Here’s how.

Find the “right” mill

I worked for Demand Studios years ago, but I escaped and never looked back.

Earlier this year, though, someone in the Freelance Writers Den asked a question about a mill called Media Shower. I’d never heard of it, so I decided to go through the application process, just to report back to the Den.

I found out that MS uses a guest blogging model to get its clients’ links all over the web. Writers get a bio with a link to their Google Plus profiles in order to establish Google Authorship. Pay is $25 per 500-word post.

I got accepted, then didn’t do anything with them for awhile because I didn’t want to get sucked into another mill. But the more I thought about it, the more I started to wonder: Could I make that bio work for me?

Use it as a marketing platform

Specifically, I wondered if I could turn my posts into a marketing tool for my freelancing business. By writing high-quality posts and including my G+ link, I’d give potential clients a showcase of my skills and a way to track me down. I made sure to link to my regular website from my Google profile, and then I waited.

It took a couple of months, but then the emails started trickling in. One day, I even got three emails, all from different clients who’d read my MS posts on websites they visited.

Those posts turned out to be a decent marketing tool. They landed me two ongoing gigs (both for blog ghostwriting), along with a special request to write an article for the digital edition of Business Review Australia.

Not a bad return for my experiment. And I got paid for marketing my services!

Learn from it

I should make a disclaimer here: I still do not recommend writing for content mills. At all. $25/post works out to about $25 an hour (you don’t get to pick your topics at MS, so you’ll have to do some research). As Carol has mentioned, that’s not a livable wage for a freelancer.

But if you’re going to write for a mill anyway, here are a few lessons I’ve learned:

  • Pick a mill that gives you a byline, and try to stick with mills that give readers a way to find you directly.
  • Always do high-quality work. You never know who’s reading those quick, piecemeal posts.
  • Keep marketing to real clients. Your goal should be to move up and not have to use the mill anymore.

Content mills aren’t a viable long-term option for freelancers. But with a little strategy, I managed to turn a mill gig into a decent marketing tool.

Angie Mansfield is a freelance blogger who’s thrilled that “Freelance Blogger” is a real title these days. She writes mostly about business for her “day job” and helps fellow geeks (and freelancers) de-stress their lives on her blog, TranquiliGeek.