Saturday, November 04, 2006

Lots of Experience With No Pay

What are you worth, exactly? That's the question every freelancer faces on a daily basis. If we have lots of work in the hopper, we might be inclined to turn down lesser paying work. If we don't, we may be forced to take below market rate. But what is "market rate?" Many freelancers agree that it is at least $1 per word for high gloss, national magazines. Some pay regular freelancers up to $2 a word, but those jobs are few and far between. For a 1,000 word article, then, the freelancer who can score $1 a word will make $1,000. But how long did it take to write the article? That fee isn't very much if the article was laden with heavy research or multiple source interviews.
Freelancers also agree that it is usually more beneficial to calculate our worth by the hour, rather than by the word. When I started doing this year, not only did my annual income start to increase, but I was finally able to nail down what I needed to actually make a decent living. And while I'm still not making what I did in the corporate world, it is enough to pay the bills and justify not putting wear and tear on my vehicle or my mind.
What are you worth?
People ask me all the time why I bother to out the scammers who would have people work for nothing. I'll repeat it for the last time this year: I do it because these people, who would set up shop and run a business based on having people with the professional skill set of writing, are the reason the $1 a word pay hasn't increased since the 1970s and 80s.
Now, this week's winner, another start-up opening a business that relies on professional writers, yet not having a budget to pay for the very skill they are promoting. This is for a hip-hop urban magazine. The ad requried a resume, writing samples and a huge amount of skill: "If selected, you will be responsible for writing approximately 5-10 news blurbs of about 50-100 words every day, including weekends. Specific images and news feeds will be submitted to your e-mail. You will be expected to paraphrase these items and upload your work to the backend of our site. Ultimately, you will also manage a team of news writers. Positions are currently unpaid, however, with the magazine's growth, salaries will be negotiated. This is an excellent opportunity for the right individual to become part of a fast growing online magazine."
Excellent opportunity? Let me run for the exposure.


Blogger Kristen King said...

Actually, a speaker I heard this weekend said that writers back in the Age of Magazines in the early to mid-20th century were getting $1/word. The fact that we're still getting only that much is a travesty, truly, and more so if you count in in 1940 dollars.

1:51 PM CST  

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