I'm hyper aware of what I post online could come back to bite me in the butt. For this reason, I hold back a lot. I rant to my husband. I rant to friends. I write in a locked journal. You get the picture.
You never know who is reading your little blog. In this case, I hope people read this post because I'm just plain sick of the state of freelancing. I'm tired of "wanna-be writers," as I call them, working for pennies and doubting that other writers actually receive decent pay from private clients.
In the world of freelancing, it's not "to each his own." When green-around-the-ears writers flood the market and accept meager rates, it drives down the going rate for all writers. I've seen it first hand. There's nothing more frustrating than wasting your time applying for a writing gig, only to find out it pays next-to-nothing once the gig is offered.
I recently had a pretty insulting experience with a start-up publication. I asked for the rates as soon as I was welcomed aboard. The pay per article was low but acceptable for a start-up, at least I thought. Then, after jumping through hoops with contracts and virtual meetings, I find out the real rates with the word counts. Laughable, insulting, ridiculous! But I seemed to be the only one insulted. Plenty of writers were eager for this opportunity—eager to pound out their best investigative journalistic work for a magazine looking to make butt-loads in advertising but not willing to pay even $.10/word.
I see it everywhere. Writers begin to think in terms of hourly rates. If they can pound out article after article in one hour, then the paltry per word rates really aren't so bad, they say. Sure, I write for a variety of places. And there's some justification for taking a lower rate from a huge company that pays twice a week, like clockwork—a place where things operate differently from the "real world" of freelancing. I do it. But that's the exception to the rule.
Writing for a ginormous content mill is not the same as writing for a private client or a magazine or a newspaper. Outside in the real world, you have to demand better pay. You have to realize your worth. Because the bottom line is, better pay is out there. But thanks to the over-saturated market of writers for hire, it's becoming harder and harder to attain. Places are paying less because writers are willing to work for less.
It's got to stop. The idea of "I'll do it for the clips" has got to stop, too. I've done it. I did it recently, accepting pay below my standards, and, surprise, surprise, I regretted it right away. The editor was unprofessional, and I'm still waiting on my copies of the magazine for those clips.
I know that times are tough and the market is changing. But it hasn't changed so much that I have to work for pennies, and I wish other writers would wake up and realize that, too.