I keep coming back to Jodee Redmond’s post “Will Taking a Low Paying Freelance Writing Job Hurt Your Career?” I already wrote about my thoughts on this topic and I don’t wish to bring it up again, however one of the comments is sticking in my mind. In fact, I’ve been mulling it over for days.
Content Sites Aren’t Keeping You From Higher Paying Freelance Writing Opportunities
In the comments for that blog post, I mentioned how there have always been low paying gigs, whether they’re with literary journals or as the resident freelancer for a graphic design studio. In fact, I remember freelance writers clamoring for a gig paying minimum wage when I worked in publishing in the 80’s and 90’s. My point was that these jobs didn’t keep anyone from aspiring to do better or finding higher paying work back in the day, and the entry level opportunities we see today shouldn’t keep us from it either, if that’s our choice.
There have always been low paying opportunities for writers, for example, the literary magazine paying five dollars or the newspaper column paying $15.
None of these jobs lowered the rates or drove away the high paying jobs (though, in all honesty, there was a time I thought this would be the case). There have been a handful of freelancers visiting the FWJ community over the years who continuously speak out against he entry level gigs and their rates of pay, but has it really affected their situations? These writers set a standard and won’t go below that standard, yet still complain about the rates and the “content mill jobs” as if they’re affecting their livelihood. They’re not. Writers who won’t settle below a certain amount are still finding work, otherwise they would have thrown in the towel a long time ago.
The commentator posted this in response:
Check out the Indeed listings and others-dominated by the content mills. The literary journals never occupied position one.
No, because literary journals didn’t advertise on traditional classified advertising sites. We didn’t have all these Internet jobs back then so you can’t compare. Literary journals only advertised in the back of Writer’s Digest or other writing newsletters. I agree it’s annoying to see hundreds of ads for the same company occupying the hundreds of slots on the job search engines, but that doesn’t mean there are no good freelance, it simply means you may have to dig a little deeper.
Stop Looking for Excuses and You’ll Find the Good Freelance Writing Jobs
For some reason, I have a reputation for “only” posting low paying gigs, which is kind of funny. At FWJ we post between 40 and 100 new gigs each and every day and very few of them are from “content mills.” Many of them are lucrative opportunities. Web content is just a small portion of the jobs posted here on a regular basis. I understand there are some people who don’t approve of entry level opportunities, but to say they’re the reason you’re not finding work is just an excuse. There is plenty of freelance writing work, even in this economy.
There have always been low paying jobs. We see them more now because of the Internet, but there have always been places that paid writers less than $10 – or nothing at all. We found high paying work “back in the day,” and we’ll continue to find high paying work now. The “content mills” (and I) are a convenient scapegoat, but they’re not the reason you’re not finding better work.