More and more often, I’m seeing writing jobs that pay so little it would take three assignments and two months to buy a pack of gum.
Part of the reason that those ads work is that there are desperate people who want to be writers. They buy into the idea that not getting paid is an “industry standard for beginners,” and give up their work for nothing.
I’ve never met a plumber, grocery store or car lot that does that. If I asked for a car for free to “prove their worth” they’d laugh at me. They can go bankrupt in different, more inventive ways.
Yet writers agree to write for free for experience and exposure every day. Stop doing this. The more writers offer to write for next to nothing, the harder it makes it for the rest of us. Many people don’t know good writing from bad, so it comes down to a matter of money. Anyone who can click a keyboard and is willing to get paid per view is offered a job. I know about supply and demand, but I also know that the internet is still largely words, and if you want to stand out, you have to know how to write well.
The same companies that tell advertisers that they get millions of views and that the Internet was the next big market for their products, calmly turned around and tell writers that there isn’t any proof that writing works, and the person to take the hit for doubt had to be writers.
I’ve answered several internet ads for writers, but have yet to find one that pays decently, let alone well. One wanted me to produce a series of restaurant reviews, 8 per week (who eats out that much?) and write a 200-word review, with picture. The pay? I get to be published. I can publish myself and not pay myself, neatly cutting out the middleman.
Now my articles are getting picked up all the time, to fill the blogs of other writers, who are desperate to meet their goals. One such place offered to pay $0.12 per day, but they own the copyright. That was based on click-throughs per article, so I’d have to write a huge amount to make minimum wage.
As a writer, who has made a living from writing for most of my adult life, I’d like to pass on encouragement and a warning. Get paid for your work. Do not work for free. When you give it away, no one will respect you in the morning.
And the warning: Writing well is hard. You have to know grammar. You have to be able to think analytically. You have to be able to reason logically. Just because you can keyboard your thoughts doesn’t make you a good writer. Get paid what you are worth. Walk away from scams, underpayment and empty promises. You’ll respect yourself in the morning.
–Quinn McDonald is a writer and creativity coach. See her work at QuinnCreative.com (c) 2007-9 All rights reserved.