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.