Monday, April 01, 2013

Writing is a Thankless Job

This is one of my opinionated rants, I suppose. I'm going to take the floor, and it's not important whether or not we agree or disagree. I guess I just want to use this as my public soap box—to get this off my chest and finally be done with it.

But yes, writing is a thankless job.

I'm a freelancer by trade and necessity. When I was a web designer, I used to get few projects dropping triple digits when each task was finished. Mind you, I worked hard for everything I did, and I'm glad and sad that those times are over. However, as a writer, I get that feeling of “no one reads anymore”. Getting commissioned is harder, and getting freelance work is ridiculous and petty. I've been a leisurely commissioned and contracted writer for years; the former more than the latter naturally. Because of my own self-esteem, I charged less than what I should have been paid. Naturally, at the time, I didn't feel comfortable with charging people $5-10 for a single, chaptered story! But now that I need the funds, it's a completely different story. I've always wanted to be independent, to make my own money, and I never believed I had what it took to do so. While I still don't agree that I do, I refuse to take $0.01 per word jobs. That's just completely unfair.

I'm not saying anything against people who write, make music, or anything else, but for me, as a 'writer', I just want to lament my creative hardships. I refuse to be paid less than a full dollar, but if we're talking per word and we must talk change, why must we go below a quarter a word. We're talking some serious coin here. People want articles written, facts checked, articles edited. And I've been looking for good stable work for years. I've seen the different jobs come and go. I've see the ads, researched the business. Chances are as a blogger, editor, what have you, you're not just going in and doing the basic title of the job. You're managing your own field. You are essentially your own team, even while working with another team. In businesses like that, you get paid $15 an hour, maybe more. Fine, but when individual businesses, namely magazines, or places that need content generators, they don't give you the bucks for your bang.

The pay depends on the work. I was recently given an assignment that involved two four-hundred (400) word blogs and one five-hundred (500) word article with three different topics all based on a business with no name. The execution was vague; I was given keywords, a business that literally came up with twenty different shops all under the same general name because the business was based on a city, and the topics. I was told “go” and that was it. For those articles, I'll be getting paid $13, and that's it. That's it! I'm outraged because I did more than just write or regurgitate words back at my client. And I'm all for paying my dues. But now that I've got my network, I'm putting my foot down. I've done way too much research on this matter, and I fear that I will never have the talent or the self-worth to amount to my competitors.

And all I'm scrapping for is a few pieces of change, all the while hoping I stagger towards an opportunity good enough to recognize the mediocre work I've done and drown me in work just so I can get paid thrice the amount. Maybe I'm just not cut out for this competitive world where I have to scratch my way to the top and recoil from the blinding light of success. My little world is dark down here at the bottom; if I weren't in such a trying position, I think I could get rather used to it. Unfortunately, I want to make my way up too, so I have to claw my way... somewhere.