It’s a touchy subject and the one topic most likely to cause conflict on writers’ discussion boards and forums. Some writers write for no pay while others claim that writers writing for free lower everyone’s chances for decent payment. A decent fee for one writer is unacceptably low for another.

If you’re a professional writer and can produce good copy reliably then you deserve to be compensated for your work. If you choose to write for nothing, that is your business, but if you write for money you should be paid a good wage.

So what’s a good wage? Ahh. That’s the big question. Everyone has a different view of what a fair wage is and in part it varies depending on where you live. A decent wage in New York City is very different from a decent wage in Nova Scotia. Your best bet when figuring this out is to determine how much you want to make per year. Let’s say that for you it’s $40 000. Keep in mind that taxes, all benefits, sick days, and health care costs come out of this. Let’s say, though, that you live somewhere where living costs are low and $40 000 is a decent wage for you.

There are 52 weeks in a year so you will need to earn about $770 per week to average out $40 000. For a 40-hour work week that’s about $154 a day or about $20 per hour. That means that when considering a project, you should estimate (generously) how much time you will need to complete the project. If the amount you are getting is less than $20/hour you need to renegotiate or turn down the project. I know that turning down a paying project is scary, but if it is taking you away from a decent wage, you need to turn it down.

By the way, to be on the safe side, I recommend that anyone who wants to earn $40 000 a year writing (which is a very easy goal to achieve, in fact) actually double the hourly wage. That’s right – aim for $40 an hour rather than $20. That’s because if you stick with the $20 you will inevitably earn less than your $40 000. Again, as a freelancer you are paying for overhead, taxes, benefits, and sick days out of your own pocket, so increasing your wage is the best way to ensure that you meet your financial needs. You can even follow this model with $100 000 or whatever yearly wage you want to earn. Once you know you need to earn a certain amount each day, it’s amazing how clearly you can select which projects to take on. It’s also very freeing to know that you sit at your desk until you earn your daily amount. Once you have done that, you can switch off your computer and enjoy the rest of the evening.

Today’s job leads:

1) — Jobs in public broadcasting.

2) — Jobs for editors and some copywriters from Editors Only classifieds.

3) — Lots of jobs in newspapers, as well as internships. Most are in the US, although some Canadian jobs do crop up.

4) — United Business Media has positions (editorial and some copywriting, usually) open in the UK and US.

5) — Reed Business Information has positions available in the US in editorial and publishing fields.

6) – Online media and writing job search board.

7) — Publishers Weekly has a Job Zone that lists lots of jobs in editing and publishing fields.