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Freelance Writing: Trading Pennies For Dollars
As a freelance writer, there comes a time when you have to start chasing dollars instead of pennies. When you start out as a freelance writer, every commission is important, no matter how little it pays. That’s how you get contacts and get a selection of clips that you can show to anyone who asks. It’s also how you learn to write fast, because at 1 cent a word, you have to do a lot of writing to pay the bills.
To give an example, I had one task that I do that consisted of writing about 3,000 words a day. It’s news, which meant minimal creative effort, but it still took time to write. When I started the contract, it took me half a day to write that amount. By yesterday, when I ended it, I was able to do the same amount in two hours. That was important, because it didn’t pay very well and I needed to leave myself time to get some jobs that would make some money. There was also a small problem of successive late payments. (My golden rule is, don’t let someone get away with that too often or it could become the norm.)
Don’t get me wrong — I still do some low paid jobs, because it keeps the cash flowing, which is what cash flow is all about :) but I am also on the lookout for jobs that pay better. One of my recent opportunities gave me the chance to double what I usually get for ghostwriting, but I want to do better than that.
That’s why I’m trying to change the balance of my writing. I have a couple of jobs which keep me going and I do a lot of paid blogging for various blogging ads places. But getting rid of one contract means I now have time to look for a few higher paid jobs (Deborah NG tries to have a $10 minimum payout on the jobs on her site). And replacing it with something that paid more means my bank balance won’t suffer while I’m doing it. For me, this is all about working smarter, with the ultimate goal of freeing up more time to write my books, play with my daughter and go to the beach. I’ll let you know how it goes.
So, I’m interested to know, as a freelance anything, how did you make the move from the peanuts jobs to the ones that really paid?