Gripes & Graplings

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Writers For Sale! Bargain!

What is it with writers? Who's convinced them that their worth is non-existent?

As a writer, I often have to put in a quote for work. My quote is based on the rates I need in order to make a viable living. I have bills to pay, food to buy and, when all the necessities are paid for, I'd like to have a bit left over to have fun with, too. Is that too much to expect?

But actually making enough money to meet those needs is becoming increasingly difficult, even though I work 12 hour days. And there's one group of people I blame for it. Writers!

Yes, writers!

I'm not talking about professional, full-time freelancers; I'm talking about those who are looking to earn themselves some pin money while they stay at home taking care of the children. Or those who live in Asia and believe that because they can speak English, they can make a living as writers earning £2.50 for a 500 word article. Yes, you read that right. Two pounds and fifty pence for a five hundred word article!

Now, by the time I've done the necessary research, a 500 word article will generally take me at least an hour to write. The average is probably closer to 2 1/2 hours. If I were to compete with the £2.50 mob, I'd earn an average of £10 a day by working 10 hours without any breaks. No lunch and no coffee! Just flat out working. If I were to work every week of the year, that would give me a grand total of £2,600. Could you live off of that? Of course not! At least I wouldn't have to worry about not having time for holidays - I couldn't afford them anyway!

Maybe I should be blaming the editors of websites and tuppenny bit magazines for pressing prices down this low, but I'm afraid I have to leave the responsibility with the writers. Any businessman will try to keep his outgoings as low as possible, and only when writers start demanding the kind of fees they're worth will anything improve.

Writers should be proud of their profession and stop selling themselves short. If you're one of those who are undercutting the market, I suggest you reconsider your position and ask yourself why you're writing. Do you want to knock the rest of us out of the market, or do you want to be able to earn the kind of money we should be earning? Bid what you're worth!

If you're not worth enough to demand a decent rate for your work then you shouldn't be writing in the first place. Go sweep the streets instead - you'll earn more!

Related links:
The National Union of Journalists' Rates Guide



  • Okay, I'm one of those professional freelance writers, so perhaps your post wasn't aimed at me. However, I think I have something valid to add to this argument:

    I used to charge a lot less per day than I do now (hopes no current clients are reading!). I didn't get that much work. Then, I doubled my rates, as I found out that other writers were charging more.

    Suddenly, I got more work. From there it snowballed.

    Now, I'm not saying that there is a direct correlation between charging more and getting lots of work, but it seems to me that the more I charge the better I am viewed by my peers.

    That's not to say there isn't an upper limit. There is. And, it's easy to overstep that limit. I know.

    What I would say is: don't blame those that only charge a small amount - ignore anyone that isn't interested in paying the 'going rate' and I think that you'll find people might take your writing more seriously. Why? I guess it's something to do with them believing that unless they are paying a good amount of money the work is not going to be top quality.

    Of course, there are many out there that might disagree with me( and you might well be one of those people!) and as I live in London and work in advertising, perhaps I'm one of the lucky ones. I can't answer that.

    All I will say is that 'good' writers are worth their weight in gold, platinum and any other heavy metal you care to mention. If you're looking for one, make sure you find one that knows their semi-colons from their commas and can use an apostrophe correctly.

    Now, I really must get back to my day job - writing.

    purplesimon out...

    By Blogger purplesimon, at 20/1/06 17:52  

  • I'm not quite sure what you added to the argument there, but it could be I'm having an off day (actually, I know I am - I've chucked up for most of it!).

    Anyhow, I do agree that there are clients who prefer to go with writers who charge "reasonable" fees rather than the cheapest of the cheap, but my post was aimed more at those who abuse writers who are just starting out, and those who are willing to dump thier worth in order to get work. I know we all have to de-value ourselves to start with, regardless of trade, but $5 for a 500 word article? Come on! Who can honestly compete against that? And what's the point in even trying?

    Try going on the freelance sites and getting work for a resonable rate as a newbie(not necessarily a newbie to the writing trade but a newbie to the site) and you'll see exactly what I mean!

    As for the upper limit - absolutely. It's all a matter of supply and demand. If somebody really wants YOUR work, they'll pay well to get it, but only to a point. After that they'll go find somebody else who's equally as good. And there always is something else.

    ~Sharon J

    By Blogger Sharon J, at 27/1/06 20:38  

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