by Deb Ng
We get letters here at Freelance Writing Jobs. We also receive many comments on our job leads blog. While most comments are positive, some thoughtful comments aren’t so favorable about a few of the jobs we post here because they don’t pay a lot. Though we do offer a good mix of writing jobs, I do get that not all gigs will be to everyone’s liking.
Now, those of you who remember me from back in the day when I was just starting out will remember I was kind of vocal about the low payers too. Then I had an epiphany. It wasn’t the people who were accepting the low paying gigs who were keeping me from getting the good jobs, it was me.
Why You’re Not Getting the High Paying Freelance Writing Jobs
If you’re spending a lot of time ragging on the low payers and not getting the high payers, there could be a very good reason behind it.
1. You’re Not as Good as You Think You Are
I know. Harsh, right? The fact is, great writers command great pay. That’s not to say you’re worthy of $5 writing jobs, but if you want to be paid $1 per word your work has to speak for itself. Many editors do like to reward good writers with good pay but if they end up doing most of the work for you, it’s not very cost efficient. Turn in clean work. Why would an editor want to pay you good money when she has to practically rewrite everything you turn in?
2. You Don’t Have Much Experience
I don’t every believe a writer has to earn next to nothing to gain experience. Even the newest writer shouldn’t earn $1 a blog post or $1 an article. With that said, I understand starting out at $10 or $20. Though it’s not totally unheard of, not too many brand new writers will get thousand dollar gigs. As your experience grows, so should your pay.
3. You’re Not Asking
If you feel you’re deserving of a pay raise, ask. Many writers don’t ask for an increase in pay because they don’t want to lose their clients. If you’ve been working for the same person for years at the same rate, that person is taking advantage and you need to get aggressive. Inform your client you’ll be raising your rates. If he balks, decide whether or not it’s time to move on. If your client values your writing and your customer service, he’ll pay the increase.
4. You’re Not Looking in the Right Places
We talk often about where to find the higher paying freelance writing jobs. The truth is, you won’t always find these online. We do try to bring these desirable gigs to you here, and though some might laugh, I know Craigslist often has very high paying jobs. If you want to find the really high paying gigs, you may have to close up your laptop and do some cold calling. If you’re not going to take the time to really look for work, quit complaining the jobs aren’t out there. They are, you just have to stop looking in the “easy”places.
5. You Don’t Have a Very Good Reputation
It’s true. Editors and webmasters talk. I’ve been contacted many times and asked what I know about certain writers and I’ve seen this in a few editors and bloggers’ groups as well. If you have a reputation for arguing with your client, flaking out on projects, turning in sloppy work, or talking smack about your employers online, some might take offense. Whether you like it or not, it’s now the practice to Google potential employees. Be careful what you say out there.
6. You Don’t Apply for The High Paying Freelance Writing Jobs
Stop looking at the high paying freelance writing jobs with an “if only” mentality. If you want the gig, if you’re suited to the gig, apply to it. The worst that can happen is the employer says no. If you’re a good writer with the work and references to show for it, apply. Don’t let lack of confidence keep you from good gigs.
7. Your Cover Letter and Resume Aren’t a Good Representation
Hate to sound like a broken record here, but your cover letter and resume are the first impression a potential client will make. Sending in a cookie cutter, lackluster representation will get you cookie cutter, lackluster jobs. If you’re not very good at resume writing, it may be worth the investment to have one professionally made.
8. You’ve Given Up
Looking for work is a job in itself. Why look hard when the Internet abounds with the easy jobs. You can do that…toil along writing 50 articles about drain plugs for a few bucks, but that gets old quick. If you really feel you’re a good writer, you just haven’t hit it big yet, don’t give up. Your hard work WILL pay off, you just have to be willing to put in the time.
What do you think are some of the reasons folks aren’t getting the high paying freelance writing jobs?
James Chartrand - Men with Pens says
Rock on! *cheers and applauds!*
I think those who point to low-paying jobs and say, “That should never be! Don’t accept that! Remove them!” are really saying, “I don’t have the confidence to ignore these low-paying jobs and go after what I really want.”
These people also don’t have a lot of empathy, I’ve noticed. They forget that some people need the money that badly, that quickly. I’m all for you posting jobs you feel are good ones, Deb, no matter what the pay rate, because you help all writers, not just the whiners.
Anne Wayman - About Freelance Writing says
Great list Deg, and totally true. Three and six, asking, are my personal favorites – I watch my cats for lessons in asking.
I also wonder about the time the complainers are using to complain… I mean don’t they have something more fulfilling to do, like maybe write, or just enjoy a cup of coffee?
I’ve had emails from folks taking the $2 and $3 an article jobs telling me what a huge positive difference that money made in their lives.
In other words, it’s not up to me to decide what people need.
Wendy Sullivan says
As a relative newbie to the freelancing world, I am thankful for these $25 jobs that keep money flowing in and give me needed experience at the same time. My thousand dollar day will come – it just isn’t today.
That said, I’ve also done those terrible penny-a-word gigs, and I’m glad I did. I learned that I’m too good for that, and I should set my standards higher. Everyone should go through that humiliating time so they can learn what they are worth to THEMSELVES!
What a great post, Deb! And all of it is so true! People really don’t have a right to complain about low-paying jobs if they are accepting them, in my opinion.
I really wish people (in the U.S.) would just stop taking those $1/article jobs… then the employers would have to look elsewhere (in places where $1 will actually BUY something!)
Jeanne Grunert says
Excellent post. Much food for thought. It’s also worth keeping in mind that there are fewer higher paying jobs than the low paying gigs, with more people applying for them. Thus the competition is greater. It’s so important to hone one’s writing skills and offer editors and clients great writing. That’s the ultimate secret!
As one who is new to writing I appreciate you taking the time to lay this out there for everyone to see.
I am building my portfolio by accepting low paying gigs but am also quering for better paid jobs and blogging.
I also am trying to develope some creativity in my grant writing by doing outside jobs and learning to express myself better.
My point being some of us accept low paying jobs for reasons beyond our bank account.
Thanks again for a great post!
Jenn Mattern says
Spot on about all of it, but especially about people not “looking” in the right places. One of the most common questions I get is what sites people should be looking at for the high paying gigs. They expect them all to be listed somewhere, with little effort on their part.
There are a LOT of high-paying gigs on the Web. What some folks don’t understand (or just choose to ignore) is the fact that many, if not most, of them are never publicly advertised. You can’t “look” for these gigs. If you want them, you have to invest time into building your network and marketing to increase your own visibility.
I really wish more writers, especially new freelancers, would spend less time asking for info like that to be handed to them, and more time investing in their own careers by making themselves more attractive to this high-paying / non-advertising breed of client. Sure, it’s more difficult, but it’s infinitely more rewarding when you no longer have to dig for gigs, because they’re coming to you.
Excellent points, all of them! I know that I have been worried in particular of late because I feel like my cover letters have gotten boring…if they’re boring to me, they have got to be an absolute snoozefest for the editors or publishers who are reading them.
James Chartrand - Men with Pens says
@ Wendi Sullivan – I appreciate you mentioning that; it supports my thoughts on why we should all take a shot at cheap work – so we learn from the experience! https://www.freelancewritinggigs.com/businesstips/why-you-should-write-cheap-articles/
I started out with the $4 and $3 articles and still write them for the steady weekly income. I am confident in my writing but with no experience it really is a lot harder to get those high-paying jobs. My hard work has paid off though… now I am getting higher paying work and lots of new gigs. I personally don’t have that much of a problem with charging less than my US counterparts for web work because I live in South America where the cost of living is lower. I also like SEO articles because they don’t require much thinking to write. I can whip them out in 20 minutes or less.
One thing about SEO articles:
I find it difficult NOT to think when I write – and I end up delivering much better pieces of content than my earnings justify.
Or, I churn out a few paragraphs weaved around keywords and I think to myself, What the heck? What am I really doing here? Am I writing now? Or am I applying my gray matter to (and – given the low fees and the number of pages one has to write to earn a decent sum – burning it over) something that will never satisfy my inner self?
Great post! Any job would be a great opportunity, especially when you’re starting out. You never know what could happen! You could make some fantastic contacts that could help you take your writing to the next level.
Great food for thought.
I guess I’m on the higher paid side of the spectrum, though not the $1 a word end. Some of the places where I look for work are quite open about pay scales, so I see who’s working for less. It seems to me that a jack of all trades and master of none mentality often applies.
I mean, I certainly can write a couple hundred words on anything for anyone — we all can. That’s why it doesn’t pay well. But I can, in particular, write for both humans and search engines at the same time, being true to the voice of a website owner. Not everyone can do that. So I’m worth a higher rate.
For my regular clients, I’m very flexible. I love them, after all, and they love me. I’ll write their collection letters and design their party invitations if they want. But when I’m out looking for work, I’m a specialist.
I think I’d add that to your list: You don’t stand out.
Oh — I just noticed two Rebeccas in a row. Hi there, Rebecca from Travel Writers Exchange! — Rebecca from RebeccaHaden.com
I take the lower paying jobs because I honestly dont’ ahve the time and ability to commit to doing more. I’m a college student. I write because I want to and because it gives me some extra money to sock away or just pay my phone bill each month. I plan on persuing travel writing/blogging when I graduate school but for now I just do what I find and I’m ok with lower pay for less effort on my part. However, I also think low pay can be criminal at times. Certain sites do literally pay $1 and change for a well written article. Get real.
Oops typos. Sorry. Wish I could edit after posting.
“I don’t every believe a writer has to earn next to nothing to gain experience.”
Shouldn’t that be ‘ever’?
I found out that these high paying clients are not mythological creatures. They actually do exist, and are apart of a secret society who are only accessible through word of mouth and strategic and effective querying. In many cases, when they come out of hiding, it’s usually due in part to hire a writer whose content they stumbled upon and were amazed at what he/she could do with a few keystrokes and dry humor.
….well that’s my take on it and it’s certainly how I’ve landed these clients time and time again.
Excellent post, I agree with you. Sometimes it takes patience and luck as well. You can be searching the places you usually search and if you are in the right place and the right time, you may just find one higher paying gig that could lead to more work.
Who knows, if you impress the client, you may end up with more work from other clients as well. =)
Joy Lynskey says
Really great post! Super true reasons there. As a freelance writer and an outsourcing employer I have seen a lot of both sides of this coin!
Thanks for the great post