I have noticed that many freelancers are being told – by clients and even by some writing groups — that $10 an hour is a good wage for a freelance writer. Even some of the people I respect in the industry have this opinion. Let me say it straight out: I think this attitude is dangerous for writers. There is no place in the US or Canada where $10 an hour is a good wage for a freelance writer.

Allow me to explain why. When you become a freelance writer, you are in business for yourself. That means that sick days, vacation days, dental care, medical insurance (if you are in the US), a drug plan, and everything else comes from your own pocket. If you work full time as a freelancer, there is no employer matching your contributions to your retirement fund or offering mental health days or other perks. If you want it, you pay for it. And if you are earning $10 an hour, you don’t have enough to pay for everything. By the time you pay for all of the above, plus your overhead (computer, electricity costs incurred by working, and whatever else you need to get the job done) you are earning well, well below minimum wage. In a shaky economy, that spells financial suicide.

There is a second reason why I think the “$10 an hour is good money” spiel is risky. It encourages writers and their employers to consider anyone asking for a fair wage to be greedy, when in fact the opposite is true. Writers making $50, $100 and even more an hour are actually saving their clients massive amounts of money. Don’t believe me? Think about it this way: if a client were to hire a full-time writer that employer needs to pay that staff writer an hourly wage, regardless of whether that writer’s services are needed or not. That writer gets paid whether he or she is working, napping, or chatting around the watercooler. Freelancers only get paid for work they actually complete, so they save employers money up front. Employers hiring freelancers also do not pay for benefits, computers, electricity, snacks, insurance or the other expenses a full-time employee incurs in a workplace. Paying $200 for a press release is a great bargain when compared to the real cost of having a staff writer on hand to create that same press release.

When anyone tells me that I should see $10 an hour jobs as good money, I worry. I worry that it is sending out the wrong message to writers and to clients. I have also noticed that writers who ask for fair wages sometimes get treated as though they are greedy and unreasonable even though the math shows they are in the right.

Of course, if you work full-time or part time outside the home and have some benefits from that job or from a spouse, $10 an hour in extra income may be fine for you. If you want to make it as a professional full-time – and many do – forget the low-paying jobs.

I can practically hear you thinking: That’s nice to say but where can I find the jobs that pay well? It’s true that there are many $10 an hour writing jobs (and jobs that pay less). And you know what? The more writers who accept those jobs, the more that will become the norm. One solution is to stop looking in places where low-paying jobs tend to hang out. Craiglist and bidding sites should not form the majority of your job hunt (although these places are fine to check out once in a while). Instead, hit up the hidden job market. Advertise your services or contact companies directly to find unadvertised writing job openings. If you persist in looking for a well-paying job, you will find it, even though low-paying jobs are admittedly easier to land.

Job leads for today:

1) http://www.mylifetime.com/about-us/jobs — My Lifetime TV often posts jobs for writers, marketers and others. Some jobs are on-site, some are freelance, and many are based in the US.

2) http://www.mediajobmarket.com/jobs/index.jsp — Lots of jobs for media professionals here. Many are based in the US.

3) http://noodletools.com/debbie/literacies/basic/yngwrite.html — Lots of opportunities for young writers are posted here.

4) http://thepoetrymarket.com/ — If you have poems to publish, this resource has the market listings you need to get started.

5) http://www.coffeebreakforwriters.com/ – Coffee Break for Writers is a monthly ezine for writers. In addition to useful advice, most issues contain market information. The ezine is also currently a paying market.

6) http://wfhmarket.com/jobs/ — WFH Market lists jobs, including many blogger jobs. Updated regularly, as far as I can see.

7) http://write-from-home.com/paying-markets — Write From Home lists a number of markets, perfect for that article you’ve been meaning to submit.

Happy Fourth of July to all the US readers of this blog!

Happy Canada Day to all readers of this blog!

If you want to start a big controversy on any online writer’s community or discussion group, just mention wages. Nothing seems to get writers riled up more. There are writers who accuse low-wage writers of bringing down income for all writers by getting clients used to paying pittance. There are writers who claim they need low-paying jobs to pay the rent. It’s a mess and through it all everyone is wailing “Where can I get better-paying jobs?” Everyone on writer’s groups seems to mention high-paying jobs – jobs that pay $50 or more – but few seem to explain where and how to get them.

I don’t claim to have all the answers, but I have landed a number of well-paid jobs, and from what I have observed it all comes down to a few basics:

1) Break out of the job ad habit. This is the single best piece of advice I can give you if you want to be a better paid writer. You need to look further than just job ads. Yes, some job ads are great and lead you to higher-paying work, but many bring in lots of responses and that means that the client is in control and can ask for any wage he or she wants. When you go after the hidden job market, you gain more control and you can ask for the wage you want. I’m not advocating not replying to job ads – I look over ads every day. I’m just saying that if you want well-paying writing work, you need to do more. Send out letters of introduction to companies you might like to work with or groups of publications. Find recruiters in your area. Put ads for your writing services in newspapers or online.

2) Prospect regularly. If you are constantly just working, you may be missing out on opportunities that open up every day. Give yourself 15 minutes each day to find a new opportunity and apply. Even if you are very busy right now, prospecting ensures you won’t face a drought after your current project is done.

3) Give yourself time. The more desperate you are for cash, the better those low-paying jobs appear. Give yourself time to choose an opportunity that pays well. If money is an issue, get the best paying “for now” job you can and be sure to dedicate at least an hour or two a day to prospecting until you can find something better.

4) Go after clients who can pay. Medium sized business and larger companies can afford to pay you more, in many cases, than start ups. Some companies can also just afford to pay you more. Go after white-collar clients in industries such as business, law, engineering, and medicine. These clients can afford to pay you more. Keep in mind, too, that businesses can often pay more than magazines. Copywriting on the side can help you finance a budding fiction or feature writing career.

5) Do some sleuthing to find out how much a client can pay. Google a company name to find out how much they are willing to pay other types of employees. Look at the prices they are charging their customers. Ask other writers about the ages they get from a particular client and base your suggested wages on all of this input. A client can often afford to pay more – sometimes much more – than he or she wants to pay. Knowing how much they are asking for themselves or how much they are paying others gives you an edge when negotiating.

6) Give yourself raises. Clients sometimes whine when writers want to raise their wages: “But you’ve always charged me that!” Don’t let that old trick get to you. Businesses raise their prices regularly and so should you.

7) Do not hold onto clients who don’t pay enough. If a client refuses to pay you well, get rid of that client as soon as you can afford to do so. It’s just not worth it. Once a quarter or at least once a year, you should be getting rid of your lowest-paying client or your biggest-headache client. It makes room for better projects. If you really are prospecting each day, you should be getting more clients so you can afford to drop the duds.

Today’s job leads:

http://anthologynewsandreviews.blogspot.com/ — This site lists many calls for anthologies. Most calls seem to be for paid anthologies.

http://angelface79.vox.com/ — This blog lists legitimate work-from-home opportunities. Most are not writing gigs, but some research and editing jobs do crop up here, so it is worth checking out.

http://www.thejournalist.ca/jobsearch — This is a list of resources that leads to job-hunting resources for writers.

http://www.justonlinejobs.com/search.php — You can search for writing jobs here, although some of the results seem to take me to bidding sites.

http://freelancemarketingjobs.com/ — This is a blog listing marketing jobs. Copywriting jobs do crop up here.

http://www.genuinejobs.com/members/jobdetails.php?Job_ID=10608 – This site gathers writing jobs via Google and posts them on one easy-to-find page.

http://notesfromawannabewahm.blogspot.com/2008_02_01_archive.html — This blog lists work-from-home jobs. Some are writing-related.

1) http://www.theivrytower.com/ — Lots of markets listed here. Many are literary, although there are some non-fiction markets listed as well.

2) http://main.travelwriters.com/writers/marketnews/listview.asp — Travel markets and writing news listed here. If you are a travel writer (or want to be one), you will find many useful resources at this site.

 

3) http://www.literaturetraining.com/metadot/index.pl?id=2382 – Writing jobs in the UK

 

4) http://www.freewebs.com/obsessedwriters/hotmarkets.htm — Looking for new markets? This site lists new publications and offers links to the relevant websites. Their “writer resources” page is also very useful.

 

5) http://forum.authorityblogger.com/forumdisplay.php?s=ef01e89b966def7d1bfa41e5c6b8e05b&f=14 – This forum lists lots of blogging jobs, although you will have to sift through some low-paying and non-paying gigs to find the better jobs.

 

6) http://www.writersremember.com/markets.html — A great list of markets for you to consider when looking to place that newest piece of writing.

 

7) http://www.harpercollins.com/footer/avonGuidelines.aspx — Are you a romance fiction writer? Here is everything you need to know to break into a huge writing market at Avon.

I hope the Easter Bunny was good to everyone.

easter.jpg

In many cases, freelance business writers writing for companies are outsourced workers by definition. Freelance business writers are third-party contractors, and are often hired to save a company money or to provide better, specialized service. There are many reasons why companies decide to outsource their writing needs:

*Cost. Hiring a writer full-time costs much more than outsourcing to a freelancer.

*Convenience. Often, hiring a freelancer takes less time and effort than hiring a new, full-time worker. With an outsourced writing service, companies do not have to train a new writer, provide a new office for a new worker, or spend additional effort working with the writer – the work the company needs simply gets done and submitted.

*Additional security. A company hiring a new employee is taking a huge risk – the new employee could refuse the job he or she was hired for or may under-perform. Most outsourced workers, though, are under contract. If an outsourced worker does not perform as expected, the company can seek legal help or refuse to pay the writer for work not completed.

*Expertise. A company may not have a professional writer on staff and may not be able to find a qualified writer in their area. Outsourcing allows a company to seek out the best – without considering borders.

*Timing. Outsourced writers can work outside a company’s time zone. This allows work to get completed during the company’s off-hours – all at no extra cost. A company can get more work done in less time this way.

Understanding why companies are turning to you can help you provide more of what companies seek. Start thinking of yourself as an outsourced worker: How can you offer more in each of these areas so that companies can benefit more (and value you more)? How can you develop your expertise, for example, so that you can help more companies? Which time zones can you work in to help companies the most?

Today’s job leads:

1) http://jobs.copyblogger.com/ — A newer job board for bloggers.

2) http://www.demandstudios.com/writers-application.html — Demand studios has a number of web sites they need writers for. Mostly, they seem to be looking for US-based writers.

3) http://www.work-from-home-directory.com/listings/online-teaching-jobs.html — This site lists writing jobs, including jobs for teaching English and writing.

4) http://www.tutor.com/ — This site lists teaching jobs. If you want to teach English or writing, you can look for gigs here.

5) http://esylvan.com/About/AboutCareersTeachers.aspx — You can become an online teacher and teach others your writing skills here.

Over at freelance-zone.com, Joe Wallace has written a very nice post about none other than me, WritingHermit. I checked out freelance-zone.com myself and it has lots of cool information, advice, and more. I love the resources section and the lifestyles section. This site can keep a writer busy for hours and is well worth checking out.

Today’s job leads:

1) http://www.cthreepo.com/writelinks.html — A great list of writer’s submission guidelines/markets for fiction writers. You have to click around a bit, but it’s worth it.

2) http://newpages.com/npguides/litmags.htm — Lots of literary journals can be found here.

3) http://www.freelance-writing-career.com/writing-jobs — Subscribe to this feed and get new job leads every day. Many are from bid sites, but there are some non-bid jobs worth hunting for.

4) http://www.americanwriters.com/ — This is not a job lead per se, but rather a list of writing-related podcasts. Lots of useful career-building information here.

5) http://www.dotorgjobs.com/ — This general job search site lists writing jobs.

6) http://www.dailytelecommuter.com/ — This cool blog posts daily job leads for telework jobs – including writing gigs.

7) http://www.sun.com/corp_emp/ — Sun Microsystems hires technical writers, and has offices around the world.

Fashion is one of those things that I used to not worry about. Working on deadlines and working from home gives me the freedom to wear whatever I want (provided I don’t mind frightening UPS employees when they drop something off at my house). Still, I figured out a while ago that fashion affects my productivity, and ultimately, my success. Schlepping around the house in PJs and slippers, unwashed hair, and bare feet might be fun once in a while, but it does not exactly inspire. It’s hard to feel that you are working when you are dressed for sleep.

Putting on real clothes, on the other hand, makes me feel more productive. It makes sit up straighter and work more. And it does not scare any delivery personnel who stop by. Dressing for success as a freelancer means:

1) Dressing comfortably. If you are at the computer every day, it makes sense to dress in a way that does not constrict. Toss out the tight wardrobe items and the shoes that hurt. Breathing easy is a must.

2) Dressing for success. Do you really think you can make it as a freelance writer if you tell yourself that you can’t afford new clothes? Do you really think you are at your best in old and ratty clothes? Consider what you think a successful writer wears (short of Danielle Steele diamonds) and then start budgeting for those items. See if you don’t sit up a little straighter at your computer.

3) Nice clothes for interviews with clients, editors, publishers, and agents. You need some nice suits (whether you are a man or woman) to wear out. Whether you are having lunch with a prospective client or meeting a source for an interview, you want to be confident, comfortable, and able to project a professional image.

New media refers to communications methods that make use of the latest technology. While many writers decry the fact that the Internet and other technologies are taking readers away from books, smart writers are rejoicing. Every type of new media is heavily reliant on stables of writers. New video games need writers for story lines. Blogs need writers aplenty. Many of these positions pay quite well, too. New media may be the thing that takes writers out of the garret and into prosperity permanently.

I’m not advocating doing away with magazines and books. These are still great forms of communication and I think they will always exist (and will therefore always need writers). However, just consider the jobs you can land by expanding your job search to writing for:

* Video games. Gamers need new games all the time and an entire industry exists to supply them with new titles. The problem is that game developers and programmers need writers to come up with story ideas and plot lines to keep gamers coming back for more. If you love games and know a bit about game creation, check out sites such as http://www.gamedev.net/community/forums/forum.asp?forum_id=8 and http://www.gamejobs.com/content/xml-feed-recent-job-posts, where game-related jobs are often posted.

* Multimedia CD-ROMs. Multimedia CD-ROMs are now used by many colleges and even high schools to make learning more interactive and fun. Educational publishers are developing entire series of multimedia CD-ROMs to attract students, parents, and teachers. Best of all, each multimedia product needs to be researched and then written up. These publishers need good writers. If you have an educational background and can write for multimedia, consider checking out sites such as http://www.ires.ubc.ca/about/employment.html to find jobs.

* Software. It may not seem like it, but each piece of software contains lots of writing – the “help” section or user’s manual needs to be written, as well as individual instructions and marketing copy for each software title. You can find jobs in this field at http://technical-writer-jobs.dice.com/ and http://www.indeed.com/q-Technical-Writer-jobs.html.

* Web sites. Every word you read or listen to online was once written down by a writer. Today, companies realize that they constantly need fresh content to keep their web sites interesting, and that means that these firms are willing to hire writers en masse. You can easily hook up with a web design firm looking for a writer or you can look for individual writing jobs here: http://www.inserttexthere.com/ and here: http://www.asbpe.org/jobs/joblist.htm.

* Blogs. Blogs are no longer just online journals for angsty teens. Now, marketers and businesses rely on these sites to develop brand identity. As a result, many companies are now paying writers to develop blog posts. If you are willing to write regularly about the same topics, check out the blog jobs at http://www.freelancebloggingjobs.com/2007/12/freelance-blogging-jobs-blogger-jobs_09.html, http://jobs.problogger.net/, and http://www.bloggerjobs.biz/.

* Email. Businesses now send so much email and email marketing products that they often need to hire writers to come up with the material. You can write business emails, canned email responses, email newsletters, email ads, autoresponders and much more. If you can write persuasive, professional emails, look for jobs at http://www.job-search-engine.com/keyword/business-writer.  

* Mobile devices. Many companies are now coming up with separate websites that are designed to load correctly on cell phones and other portable online devices. If you can write succinctly, these business writing jobs might be right for you.

* Podcasting. Virtually every word that gets sent out over a podcast is written down first. If you can write for radio or for an audio format, you might enjoy writing for podcasts, too. Find these jobs at http://jobsinpods.com/, http://www.podcast411.com/jobs.html, and http://www.podcastingnews.com/tools/podcasting_jobs.php.

You can also find more new media jobs at http://jobs.lostremote.com/, http://www.mediabistro.com/OnlineNew-Media-jobs.html, and http://www.redgoldfish.co.uk/new-media-jobs.html.

Today’s Job Leads:

1) http://www.blogher.com/forums/blogher-news-forums/job-listings-and-gigs-0 — This forum lists a number of blog writing jobs.

2) http://www.fmwriters.com/community/dc/dcboard.php?az=show_mesg&forum=17&topic_id=68363&mesg_id=68363&listing_type=search – This site offers a free 2-year novel writing course.

3) http://www.mediauk.com/ — Media jobs in the UK

4) http://www.litline.org/links/journals.html– Lots of markets.

5) http://groups. yahoo.com/ group/PayingWrit erJobs – Join the PayingWriterJobs group on Yahoo to get fresh writing job leads daily.

6) http://renegadewriter.wetpaint.com/ — The Renegade Writer Markets Wiki is created by and for writers. There is a growing market listing as well as a discussion forum for writers to place their questions about markets.

7) http://www.passionatepen.com/ — If you write romance, you will find markets on this site.

6) http://www.cs.cmu.edu/%7Emslee/mag.html — Speculative fiction markets listed here.

7) http://www.angelfire.com/ga3/catsandjackets/writingresources.html — Resources and markets for writers.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.