Pay it Forward (Pun Intended)

by Carly Schuna

After learning from a few of my past posts, I’m still here (thank you!) but with one key difference—I’m not about to make any assumptions regarding what the community of FWJ wants. So as for the topic of how I can improve the site, here’s my honest answer: I don’t know.

Here’s what I do know: I’ll do my best to try to improve it by writing and researching things we haven’t seen here so far that I think will help your careers and things that I think some of you want to see addressed. I’m the first person to admit that I’m not perfect, so I’m always open to suggestions and ideas for improvement. With that said, there are a few topics I’ve seen come up again and again in the comments that FWJ hasn’t covered and that some posters would really like to see.

If I become FWJ’s weekly blogger, I’d like to write thorough and informative posts about topics including:

• how much to charge
• rates for different projects
• charging by the hour versus charging by the word
• formula for how to determine an hourly rate

I know Deb does not like to disclose her rates, which I completely understand. I, however, have no trouble talking about rates, and I am happy to disclose the rates I have been paid for different projects and the basic work involved for those projects (so that readers can get an idea of how much work I do for a specific dollar amount). Such information hasn’t been provided on the site so far, so I think it would be an improvement for writers in all stages of their careers.

My content will address a specific niche that is high in demand and that I feel has been lacking in the site so far. For those who already know what to charge and how to work out a rate, I’d like to track down specific leads for higher-paying jobs from places other than craigslist (because although craigslist is a great resource, I find it’s often unreliable). Other topics I could cover for more advanced freelancers include how to increase your chances of success when asking for a raise, how to maximize your income by budgeting or outsourcing, and how to definitively show clients what you’re worth and why. And I don’t want to be limited to those subjects–I’m more than willing to consider others, but the ideas I mentioned should give you an idea of what I could provide.

If these topics sound good to you, then great—I’m on the right track. If there’s something else you’d like to hear more about, let me know! I want to post content that you want. In the role of a blogger, I’m here to serve you, and while I can always try my personal best to improve on #1, it’s you guys who make it #1, and I hope I’ll get the chance to do you justice.

Comments

  1. For whatever it’s worth topics sound fine, but a little narrow. All rate-focused. Nothing wrong with that, and I still look for guidance for projects that fall outside of my normal work.

    One of the reasons I didn’t seek to participate in this process is that I felt I would run out of topics too soon.

  2. So talking about rates is the only area you think we need improvement? Cool. I know it’s hard to tamper with perfection. :)

    It looks to me like you told us what you want to write about, not necessarily what/how this can improve FWJ. (Ok I may be Simon but I hope i’m being a nice Simon?)

    FWIW, though I don’t disclose my own rates, it’s always a good idea to keep the dialogue open so new writers can learn good rates vs. bad and self worth.

    I’m also assuming you’re pitching your niche here, and it’s a good one. Do you feel you can talk about rates for two days a week for the rest of your life or until I go bankrupt? Also keep in mind rates are one of those hotbed topics – so you may need to wear your asbestos suit.

    Note to candidates: This isn’t really niche pitching time – that’s coming up at another time.

  3. Ah, Gee Whiz, Deb, don’t say the “B” word – ever! I really don’t want to have to change my name to Belle and get a job as a waitress in a truck stop ‘cos this whole freelancing thing didn’t work out! ;)

  4. Personally, I think #4 made it clear that s/he wasn’t sure how they would improve FWJ because they weren’t going to make assumptions about what we wanted here in the community. I think that’s where so many of the candidates went wrong early on in this competition, they made assumptions that didn’t seem to fit what we – as a whole – wanted.

    Just to point out, this week’s assignment is pretty subjective. In #4′s opinion, talking more about rates for the new folks and how to ask for raises for the advanced could be both a pitch on niche and an improvement to the site because you don’t really offer that already. In those terms, I think #4 did address the assignment this week; however, they went a little above and beyond.

    But, if a candidate can figure out how to fix my comments going into the spam folder and Jodee having to fish them out, then they get my vote because that would certainly be a major improvement…sorry Jodee. I try not to write too many so you don’t have to keep going after them! :(

  5. @ Kristy: I have to check the spam folder anyway, and your e-mail make a nice change from the junk that is in there.

  6. I’m not one to care much about other people’s rates, but I can see how discussing rates — although maybe not twice a week, as that would get old fast — could improve this site. A lot of new writers seem to come here, and it’s obvious by how often it comes up in comments that a lot of new writers want to know what to charge. I also like that #4 is open to hearing what others here think and want, rather than making assumptions about what folks would like to see improved.

    #4- Since you’re taking suggestions… One improvement I have seen here already since Jodee has come on full time is that she interacts within the comments more rather than just a post-and-run type of thing (a big pet peeve of mine, and a big reason I don’t waste time commenting on more of the “A-list” bloggers’ blogs). It would be nice if the person hired as a regular blogger here would also be available to interact with the community, which I think would be especially important in a rates discussion, especially since those seem to get out of hand fast here. I also like your suggestion about tracking down leads for higher paying jobs, although I know from formerly being a job-leads-fetcher for a different site that this may be an unrealistic. There really aren’t a lot of higher paying jobs posted, other than the ones Jodee already grabs from journalismjobs.com and the other better-than-craigslist job boards. But I’m sure if you have some secret sources, we would all love to know what they are. :-) I also think it’s brave of you to be the first to submit, as this is a hard type of assignment to address. I also appreciate that you submitted yours today, as I was starting to wonder whether we were going to have to read half a dozen posts on Friday in order to vote over the weekend. (EEK!) ;-)

  7. Phil, narrow, yes. I’ve gotten negative comments in the past for being too general about the things I would offer, so I thought it was a good idea to narrow it down a bit. Funnily enough, I had you in mind as I wrote this post because you are one of the vets who I thought would be interested in advice that was clearly above and beyond the usual/basic.

    Deb, I had thought I pretty much spelled out how my projected posts would be an improvement (because they would address topics we haven’t seen on the site so far and that the audience–I think–wants to see). I certainly would have appreciated knowing that this wasn’t the time nor place to pitch any niche-related (that rhymes) info, but as you didn’t mention that when you announced this week’s topic, I still think my reply fits your requests, and I hope you can see it that way, too. BTW, I don’t even take off my asbestos suit when I sleep or shower. ;)

    Jodee, but come on. Anyone would enjoy getting a plate of pancakes and a couple of fried eggs from you. :)

    Kristy, let me at that spam folder! I’ll fish your lost comments out of there with a net if I have to!! But seriously, thank you for your thoughts. I’m glad that you understood my intention with this post, and I hope you enjoyed it and found it worthwhile.

  8. Hi #4 – Please know I wasn’t complaining and i’m not holding anything against you! Your piece was fine though I felt it was more of a pitch than an improvement suggestion – again, not a complaint.

    Also – We’ve touched on the topic of rates many times over, so it wouldn’t be new. I’d love to know of some topics we haven’t covered you’d like to write about if you’re looking to do something different.

  9. Amy, thanks for those detailed comments. I agree that hearing nothing but rates-related talk for all of my posts would get old really quickly, so that’s definitely not all I planned to discuss, but just a specific example of how I felt I could serve the site and improve what’s already being offered.

    If you read my past posts, I hope you will observe how I have interacted with the community so far and take that as an indicator of how I would continue to act in the future. Several others have mentioned that they like the way I keep discussions going and reply to those who have commented in a considerate and thoughtful way, which is how I feel Jodee acts all the time. She is, of course, my ideal in doing that. :)

    Since I spend a certain amount of time every week looking for higher-paying work, I know that I do find leads that aren’t listed here. I certainly wouldn’t be able to provide huge numbers of them, but sometimes, if you’re the perfect person for a job, all you need is to see the one perfect lead for you.

    And yeah, I’m not going to lie–it’s more than a little disconcerting to be the first person to post both last week and this week. I feel the later posters might have a little bit of an advantage because they’ve already had a chance to read everyone else’s posts and comments, but if I thought that’d give me an advantage, I’d post last, too. I’m not a procrastinator, and I’m confident in what I want to say, so it doesn’t bother me much to go first.

    Deb, oh, I didn’t think that at all. No worries. I suppose we just see things a bit differently–happens all the time! FWJ certainly has touched on the topic of rates, but I feel the posts so far about rates have been very general (such as your post from a while ago that said something like ‘have at it–create a rates discussion’). I think more specific information could benefit the community.

    Regarding the new topics, I have a lot of experience with book publishing. I don’t bring that up on here very often because I know that most freelancers don’t make their living writing books. However, I do know that a lot of freelance writers are somewhat interested in the book market and are working on books in their spare time. I’d be overjoyed to provide information regarding what I know about that industry and how best to go about writing a book and trying to get it published. That’s something that FWJ definitely doesn’t cover; would you agree?

  10. This is one of very few posts I’ve commented on here — I do read Freelance Writing Gigs daily via RSS but rarely come to the site. I would LOVE to see some good solid advice on rates and what to charge, and I’d also really like to see some non-Craiglist job leads (I keep applying to them and getting nada. Yes, I’m a newish freelancer, but with good academic experience and several staff blogging jobs under my belt.)

    Good luck, #4, certainly from my point of view you’d be writing exactly what I want to see on the blog!

  11. @ #4: Well, aren’t you sweet! And I would totally clean up on tips at the truck stop! ;)

    @ Ali: I do include non-CL job postings when I troll for leads on weekdays, but there is always room for more/better sources of job leads.

  12. No. 4,

    I’d be interested in what’s more than basic, I just don’t know that there’s enough to write about in that topic alone.

  13. Well isn’t this a fun discussion? Good post, #4. Good luck.

  14. In all honesty, I don’t think there could ever be set rates. There are a variety of education levels and degrees, locations and niches involved. What a company in Vermont could afford to pay in salaries to a writer is completely different to the money a company in Los Angeles would have. Rents/mortgages are different, business expenses are different and utilities are different. That’s why I charge what I would make per hour in my area. I’ve heard it all before, how I am not getting a fair wage compared to what someone in say Chicago is making, but I’m not in Chicago, so it really has no basis for me.

  15. Ali, thank you! That’s really good to know. You should stop by and comment more often–we’d love to hear from you on a regular basis!

    Phil, agreed, and I definitely plan on writing about more than rates. It’s just what I spotlighted in this post because I felt it had a lot of interest.

    Cherrye, thanks! I’m loving the discussion as well.

    Ann, I agree with you about set rates, and you’re absolutely right when you say that there are a variety of fair rates based on where a writer lives and other factors. I realize that, but I still think it’s possible to post a range for a specific type of project–or at least a table of possible starting rates for beginners. That’s all I meant… certainly not that I would post a collection of numbers with a statement like, “These are the rates, so don’t get ripped off!” :)
    Also, I hope you’d find a few of the other topics I mentioned useful. If not, I’m really serious about knowing what you’d like to see. I know you’re a longtime member of this community who comments a lot, and I would love to know what you are interested in hearing about from a new blogger.

  16. #4 — (Anyone else feel weird calling someone a number?? LOL) I appreciate your taking the time to write such a detailed reply. I noticed after my comment went through that what I wrote was just about as long as your post. I really should learn to shut up. ;-) Anyway, I think you do a great job of interacting; my comment was more a generalization, that I hoped whichever number was hired (hehe) would keep that up. I’m sure you would! And being like Jodee is probably never a bad thing. Jodee rocks. :-) I must say that it is getting harder and harder to choose in this contest, because all of you seem to have good ideas. :-|

  17. @ Amy: Thank you – and right back at ya! :D

    It is going to be hard to choose someone this week. Everyone has done a great job.

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