The Frustrations of Being A Freelance Writer
I haven't posted for a while.
It wasn't by design. Shit happens and when it does it usually happens by the truckload.
Several people have messaged me to ask if I'm OK and I'm grateful for their concern and although I was unwell for a little period, I am OK now.
I don't write for a hobby. I write for a living. When I don't write bread and butter dull boring content for a variety of businesses ( everything from g-strings through to classic cars and back again via the forex market and cleaning services - how many ways you can write about cleaning factory floors?) I don't earn much at all.
It's a harsh reality that stifles my creativity and passion for the things that matter but we all have to deal with our own realities in whatever shape or form they come in.
This platform serves as a release for my frustrations with a cockeyed world gone to hell in a handbasket.
I make very little money off these posts and what I do make I'm eternally grateful for. I take my hat off to people who write on the subjects this blog has been dedicated to full time. I honestly don't know how they stick at it and I'm in awe of their productivity, integrity and considerable talent. I urge you to get behind the people who continue to write without fear or favour about the malevolent evil that resides within the Western "democratic" system. These people are anonymous champions. You know who I mean. There's Suzie Dawson, Elizabeth Vos, Lee Camp, Jimmy Dore, Catlin Johnstone, HA Goodman, Ed at the Outer Light, Kim Dotcom, Bullshit Man and a host of others. They deserve unflinching unyielding support for what they do and how they do it.
It ain't easy. Bills have to be paid. Mouths have to be fed. There's no monetary reward for speaking the truth and it's as easy as falling off a log to roll over, sell out and become part of the machine. The rewards must be tempting. They must be.
So, I've been silent for 6 weeks.
I haven't gone away.
I lost some regular clients who think content should be available at 1c per word or thereabouts and I had to stick my head down and bum up to source some new business.
It drives me batshit.
I have a thousand stories of being ripped off, let down and not paid.
I like established clients who pay like clockwork and appreciate the quality of work that I produce. These people are gold to me and when I lose one for whatever reason, it takes considerable effort to find another. Sourcing work is easy, sorting the good clients from the pirates takes some time. I try and over deliver as much as I can and there's an inherent risk in that. Right now I have nearly 1000 dollars in unpaid invoices. Of that 1000, I've already resigned myself to never seeing a couple of hundred. I've been around long enough to know.
And there's nothing I can do about it. The bastards know it.
So, if anyone is considering working as a freelance writer, web designer, illustrator or anything else here are a few tips that might help you get through.
Stick to your guns. There's always a temptation to cut your price to compete against the low-quality content providers happy to provide rubbish material for a pittance. Dealing with people who are prepared to pay for this rubbish is a lose-lose situation. Even if you somehow manage to win the business at rates you can live with, they'll screw you down cent by cent. I price according to the amount of work involved. The lowest I'm prepared to go is 10c a word and that's too low unless there's very little research involved.
Stick to what you know. A trap I fell into early was agreeing to work on Wordpress sites as a tech head. I can do that, but I'm no expert. Similarly, with SEO or Adwords management, I can do those things but they don't come naturally. I can write SEO based content all day, but when I have to do the keyword research and the rest of it, I lose time and money.
Clarify any task that you're engaged to do before commencing work. I lost a lot of time editing and reformatting a very badly written eBook by a fitness guru who advertised for an eBook editor, only to find he didn't want his grade three level grammar and spelling touched, he just wanted his pages to look pretty with some graphics editing. The guy was a first class turd as well as a lousy speller. I reckon he played me from the outset. I never got paid.
Never expose yourself to too much risk. Big jobs are great if they pay, but if they don't you find it very hard to make up the time. I always start small with new clients - a hundred dollar job isn't going to kill me if I don't get paid, but a 500 dollar job can put a helluva hole in my cash flow for a month. I have some great gigs that pay handsomely - they came because I provided good service over a period of time and got paid for it. When the offer came for larger volumes of work came I could confidently commit to the job knowing that I would be paid promptly.
Which brings me to the last lesson. Make sure you know who you're working for. I just learned this lesson. I have provided regular writing services to a tradesman in Sydney. He dominates Search Engine Rankings in New South Wales for his service. He is knowledgeable and respectful as well as being a good payer. Recently I received an email from what appeared to be his domain requesting specific work. It was signed by his fiancee. This was no surprise to me. We had discussed this work previously and I had been waiting for him to commision the work. Because of the nature of our business relationship, I made this a priority and set to work. I issued the invoice and waited and waited. Disturbed but not alarmed, I rang the tradesman and he did not answer. After repeated follow up emails, my invoice was paid. Further work was commissioned. Something didn't feel right and I decided not to do anything else until I spoke to the tradesman directly. After a week or so, he rang me and asked if I had done any work for him lately - I confirmed that I had and told him what I'd done. He then informed me that his former fiancee had been pretending to be operating as his business while he was ill. She had established a competitor site and was trying to steal his business. Suffice to say our business relationship is not what it was.
I hope this helps.