Avoiding the temptation of easy to score but low paying gigs

Yesterday we looked at how to quit accepting low paying gigs and how to make a living wage as a writer. But what if you really can’t find a gig? Should you take a low paying job because it’s better than nothing?

As noted in the last post, a while ago I needed to pick up a couple new gigs. I applied for tons and didn’t hear back from any of them for a good long while. Frustration kicks in and those low paying gigs start to look better than nothing. Trust me, I do get the appeal of the low-pay, easy to score gig. However, when this happens the best thing you can do is hang in there and avoid temptation. It’s hard but you can do it. How do I avoid temptation?

I have great friends: For example, Deb in particular is handy when I’m frustrated because we think alike about wages. When I was whining about no jobs, she’d continually tell me, “Hang in there, you’ll score a good gig” and she was right. I can always count on Deb and a couple of other good pals to talk me out of a bad low paying job decision. Get some friends who think like you and who will hang in there with you when job hunting sucks. You’ll feel better.

Go back to your income goal: In the last post we looked at setting your income goal. You set your goal for a reason. Remind yourself that you’re worth it and keep on trucking.

Reassess your choices: If writing is never going to pay the bills, you may need to reassess your situation. When I was super frustrated at the lack of blogging and web writing jobs, I considered going back to print. In the back of my mind I knew that if print didn’t work out, my next step would have been to get a job in social work (what I used to do). Getting an out of the house job would make it hard to juggle my son’s schedule, but I’d do it before I’d accept low wages. It all goes back to what your time is worth and what you feel you’re worth. I love writing, but I’m not going to work for $10 an hour. It’s smart to realize that if you can’t live on your writing wages, then writing may not be your ideal career. It might be just a hobby.

How do you avoid the temptation of those super easy to score but low paying gigs?


  1. says

    Great article.

    Free, low wages, living wages, revenue sharing sites….?

    The bottom line is that each writer must make up his or her own mind about what constitutes acceptable pay. And for those who are willing to accept peanuts ($3 an article for 1,000 word articles), know how it impacts the rest of us who must support a family on what we earn freelance.

  2. says

    I agree with Jeanne that each writer needs to decide on pay. I’m not one to endorse the $10 for 400-word offers as a norm. However, if your high-paying markets aren’t as active and you can quickly churn out a 400-word piece – go for it. You are only a professional writer if you work. Sometimes, it pays to stitch together several low-paying but quick turnaround pieces rather than holding out for the less-common four-digit assignments.

  3. says

    I avoid the low-paying gigs because I know how I’ll feel about myself if I take them. I’ll just be frustrated and stressed, able to spend less time with my kids. It’s not worth it!

  4. says

    I have to say I agree that choices about gigs have to relate to your situation and your strengths. For instance…

    If you’re living with your parents, need $400 a month, and are building up your clips – $8/article may be perfectly acceptable.

    If you can churn out three 300-word blogs an hour on a given subject, and they’re paying $8 per blog, you may not be making a fortune, but you’re not working for peanuts either.

    IMHO, the idea that writers should only accept certain wages because of the way low fees affect OTHER writers seems a bit questionable. If you’re a professional writer with credits, references and strong skills, and you can afford to wait, you can command high fees. If you’re not, you’re can’t.

    What’s more, all words aren’t created equal: I can write this comment in ten minutes, but it takes over an hour to produce the same number of words for a different purpose.


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