freelance writer fees

Up until recently it has been fairly easy to find lucrative online writing gigs by going to bid sites with good reputations for quality work and finding buyers who pay a good rate for good writing and who appreciate what you do.

Then the peanut merchants started sniffing around. People who offer work at below the market rate and dictate terms rudely and officiously in their project descriptions. They want professionally written articles, free of all grammatical and spelling errors, 100% original and packed with researched information. "Don't bother arguing about the fee," they snarl. "It's non-negotiable. $1 per 500 words. Take it or leave it and shut up about it."
















Image: The Simpsons

Gee, thanks. Does that come with or without a poke in the eye with a burnt stick.

And still people bid for work with them. What's happening to the self respect that writers have for themselves, and the pride they have in their writing? Since when did $8 a day / $40 a week, if you manage to write 8 x 500-word articles a day, ever pay the bills unless you live in a tent in a field (in which case how are you paying your internet bill ..).

Just the other day a buyer posted a project on iFreelance.com, the wording for which was confrontational and rude. In the discussion that followed he insulted a professional writer. I believe a few people wrote an email of complaint to iFreelance and to the company that runs them - he's still on site of course.

As long as these charlatans continue to post their projects, as long as bid sites accept the projects, and as long as a few providers queue up like slugs at a beer trap for the privilege of being slapped round the face, more buyers will believe that this is all we're worth and the quality of the writing on these bid sites will deteriorate. Pretty soon we will see a decline in the calibre of writers on bid sites and instead the sites will be heaving with article-spinners giving the impression that all you need for an article is a few words and a bit of software. Eventually, those bid sites will go out of business because they will have lost all credibility.

Can we please see bid sites being picky about the projects they allow buyers to post? Can we please see some form of standard to which buyers must adhere in terms of pennies per word?

Or are they too cynical to bother?
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english vocabulary

There is nothing lovelier, when reading a piece of writing, than finding that the writer has a vast and varied vocabulary. Ideas, colours, sounds and feeling leap off the page and drag you right in there and don't let go until the end of the last paragraph - and sometimes they still hang on like dogs to a bone.

When a writer uses vocabulary like an artist's palette, amazing things happen. The reader (you) is engaged and hooked. You stick with it. You follow that writer's thread to the very end because you're interested. You're seduced by the language.

All writers read, or at least, we need to read. We need to read everything. Adverts. Newspapers. Novels. Journals. Online websites. Reference books. We read because we want to know things, we want to expand what we know, we want to increase our fund of words. We need to be reading every day and immersing ourselves in whatever we can find - it's the best way there is of honing our language and using exactly the right words to say what we mean.



Image: Morguefile

The more we read the better we are at deciding what works and what doesn't. What makes a piece of writing leap off the page and what doesn't. And we'll know when we're writing whether we're just being lazy and using cliches and stock phrases, or whether we're making every word earn its keep on the page.

We don't have to spring about and do handstands and show how clever we are (Oh look at me! I used a long word! Go me!) or use the most obscure words we can find to describe the simplest of things. But we can use a different shade of meaning and give the reader a richer experience of what it is we're saying.

That doesn't mean either that we get a big jar of adjectives and adverbs and tip them all into the pot. That's as pointless as using long words and about as effective as eating garden peas with a ditch digger. What are you, some kind of crazy person?

Would you rather your readers were satisfied after a full meal and looking forward to the next one - or gnawing on half a crust of dry bread and looking round for a better menu ..
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alert! alert! deadline approaching!

What do you do when you have treacle for brains and you grind to a halt in the middle of a commission.

There are plenty of creative writing exercises which can fire your blasters up again and masses of writers' prompts to spark off new ideas. Tony Buzan's mind mapping for example, or using Julia Cameron's guides to discovering or recovering your creativity.

But cripes. The deadline is next day or tonight or in two hours' time. Deadlines! You don't miss deadlines. Not ever. Not unless you don't want clients.

First, don't panic!



Get things into perspective. Yes, you have a deadline, but be kind to yourself. As a dear friend of mine says, does anyone need a bandage? Is anyone bleeding? It's simply an arrangement between you and your client that you will have some writing ready for them. That's easier to manage than sitting there frozen in front of the computer and watching the clock as though Jaws is booked to chew your leg off.

It's a piece of writing. Start breaking it down into bite-sized - errrr - ! no, paragraphs. How many words does this need to be - break that wordcount into introduction, body and conclusion. Three main points for the body? Four? Write them down.

Now start anywhere but at the beginning. You can write the beginning last otherwise you will stare at it and be back where you were before, sweating.

Develop the main points and do whatever research you need for each one.

Put everything else out of your mind and imagine this is a piece of work to save a mate's life. No, really! It works, simply because your focus and impetus are temporarily motivated by an imagined urgency. It's important. It's not about you and your writing, it's about them.

Once you've got the middle and the end done, work on the beginning. And that's a piece of banana cream pie because you've just written what the piece is about so all you have to do is introduce it.

If you've got time, leave it to sit for a while so you can go back and look at it with a critical eye. If it's due any minute now, then still give it the once over for bloops and typos but remember right now that sense of calm you had writing the piece. All because you managed to distance yourself from your own worries.

Deadlines need a different name, anyhow. I call them work dates. Much more fun :-)
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freelance writing for hard cash

It's addictive, this freelance writing thing. Perhaps you've come to it having written print articles under your own name or you might decide that since you have a flair for the written word you'll change your career direction and get out from under.

No more commuting. No more being stuck in a queue of crazed drivers or standing nose to neck in the public transport system. No more shovelling the car out of a snowdrift at 6 a.m.

Instead you can lope to your laptop, turn on the radio, and get to the end of the day NOT feeling like a bag of last week's laundry.

There's such a toe-tingling sense of freedom that comes with taking on freelance copywriter jobs. You can find assignments that have you scribbling excitedly for hours, or they lead you to learn more than you ever thought possible about spitoons, and you can write all day and every day from your kitchen table parked right next to the fridge. Hooray!

Dilbert.com

All you need now is a full fridge. So just be careful about the jobs you pick. Not everyone out there understands that writing is a craft that you hone and that it deserves as much recognition as any other job that takes skill and effort. Don't sell yourself for half a shirt button.

On bid sites you may have to lower your hourly fees in contrast to those freelance writing jobs in the real world, but don't go rock bottom just to try and win the assignment unless you really are honestly wanting entry level writing jobs to practice on.

Some buyers will offer something like $1.00 (about £0.50) for 500-700 word articles that they expect to be well researched, professionally written and 100% error free. Pardonnez-moi. Unless your personal cost of living is practically zero that's not going to keep bread on the table let alone cookie dough ice cream in the fridge. The standards they're demanding are professional standards ('cos it does say 'professionally written!) and as such the writer deserves a fair whack in the form of a decent amount of hard cash.

OK as a newbie to the game you might do one or two of those jobs to gain experience and to get some positive feedback, but once you have, move on up. Expect and ask for more. Have a bit of belief in yourself and your writing skills. Sell yourself for half a shirt button and you'll soon end up tired, disillusioned and cynical about the whole business, and you'll have lost that go-getting, ass-kicking attitude as well as having to sell your shirt to stay alive and breathing.

You're a damn fine freelance writer. Tell yourself that every day and expect more than loose change.
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