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.