Freelance writing is difficult. It’s hard in the current climes. There are several reasons for this. Clients have less money in their budgets to pay and even if they don’t, they see that writers are prepared to work for next to nothing. There is another reason too. There are more writers out there. Writers at varying levels of experience, and some who may be forced into the industry to look for paid work. I know many people who have dusted off their laptops and started writing to help supplement their own waning income.
These writers will understandably charge less and their need to do so is because they desperately need to boost their income. Fair point. For many, life sucks in terms of business, bills and the constant drain on their money. So, assuming that these writers can hold their own in a competitive marketplace – welcome, dip your toes in at your ‘slightly’ reduced rate, have a paddle, gain some great writing credits and then join the ranks of those who charge a fair price for their work. After all, you will have earned it.
But cutting your teeth in freelancing terms is not always easy. When I started, I didn’t know anything about pricing my work and probably got ripped off, spending hours slaving away when I didn’t need to, but of course, you soon learn. What I did find though that sometimes charging a little less when actively seeking out a new area in which to write, worked well. I will give you an example. Many years ago, I was working as a writer/trainer and had been quietly chalking up published writing credits in my free time. In the health arena, I could command a decent rate and I had credits to prove it. Then one day I spotted an ad for someone wanting martial arts articles and the price per article was lower than my usual rate but, I really wanted to get the job. I love martial arts and in my youth, yes, many, many, many years ago, I used to belong to a martial arts club and seriously lived and breathed it. So, writing about it was for me an enjoyable venture.
Writing was not my main income but it enabled me to have a good quality of life and I got to cherry-pick the work I did. It was great. I got the job writing 10 articles and even though, I charged a bit less than for my health articles, it was worth it for me. I hasten to add it was not the 1 USD per article rate that I rant about. Dropping my rates worked at that point because the client loved my enthusiasm and the quality of work and I received a great deal of work from him for over a year. That one little job really boost my income in the coming months and I went on to write about topics that I didn’t even know anything about. It was great for me as I built credits up in a lot of new areas and, I got good pay as the time went on and great feedback.
Sometimes, I can see how writing for a little less can be a good thing. But it is important that you always aim for a healthy budget if you are freelancing. Do what feels right for you, unless it is working for next to nothing. Stop it. Think about your end goal and the time it takes you to do a job. Even now, I miscalculate the length of time for a particular job. So learn from your mistakes but always tell yourself what your financial writing goals are and work steadily towards them.
If you are a low budget freelance writer, re-evaluate today. You don’t need to be. I know that writing is a competitive world at the moment but there is good paid work out there. Sometimes you need to consider your options. What are your areas of expertise? Write about those and carve out a nice little niche for yourself. Have several areas of expertise? Great. Two areas where you can earn extra money.
No-one should have to have a low wage and just scrape through but I am a firm believer that you create your own opportunities. Don’t just rely on job sites, get the word out there about your skills and back it up with quality writing. If you can’t write well, then get out of the freelance writing game. Don’t muddy the water for those who need to earn a living from the written word. Instead, learn the craft, take a writing course, study, write, study until you are proficient. Then come back and test the waters.
This way, you can command a healthy wage and actually enjoy the whole writing experience.