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Published:May 18th, 2007 10:03 EST
Put it In Writing

Put it In Writing

By Sean Stubblefield

In exploring the possibility of becoming a freelance writer, I`ve quickly learned a few things.

The field is much more crowded than I realized. It is very easy to get lost in the crowd of competition and counter bids. It is hard to find good work. Indeed, ANY work.

And, unfortunately, the overwhelming majority of people seeking freelance writers don`t really comprehend the intricacies of being a writer-- nor of the task of writing, itself. Potential clients are frequently vague about the details when posting ads for writing jobs. What kind of writing is required and expected? Do they need articles or blogs or web content or copy writing or what? And how many words are wanted?

What is the subject matter and venue? Who are we being requested to write for? What conditions and criteria apply? Sometimes, they don`t even really know what they want-- just some writer " guy.

Most significantly, ad posters generally don`t seem to appreciate the effort and time involved in writing even just a mere 200 word article--- especially if research is necessary. This is clearly evident when they offer writers as little as 2-5 dollars per 500 word article. Adding insult to injury, solicited writers are often asked to provide multiple articles, as if more work compensates for lack of pay. The math still doesn`t add up, and writers are still being cheated in such an arrangement. In most cases, even without research, there is a thought process that must be engaged, an angle or approach or theme that must be determined, planned and maintained-- both prior and during the writing. No matter how fast you might type or how much you love to write, or how gifted a writer you may be, a real writer can`t be expected to instantly churn out meaningful or useable material on command. A freelance writer can`t make a living with these kinds of jobs.

Since it could conceivably take over an hour to write and proof a 500 word article-- again, especially if research is involved, this is tantamount to paying $2 an hour!

How do they expect to get a response to that? I realize they might be limited in budget, but who would agree to that kind of deal? No self-respecting, talented writer would accept those terms. Even if desperate for money, the time/pay ratio simply does not make it worth the effort. Good writers are worth much more, and should be given more respect and consideration. If it was so easy as many of these ad posters seem to think it is, why don`t they do it themselves instead of trying to steal our work?

And can we trust them? Is the work worth our doing it? Be warned, there are frauds out there, as well as dead ends. Some job offers request writing samples who, upon your submitting them, decline or never respond. So you`ve wasted time and effort and hope, and they get your work for free.

Even if the offer is legitimate, you risk wasting your time and effort, because your submission may be rejected. Sure, maybe it was fun, and perhaps it can be used as practice " but you`re still not getting paid.

There are no guarantees in freelance writing, particularly concerning steady and consistent income.

You must be willing to accept and accommodate for the very real possibility of not being paid for weeks or months at a time-- either because of the lack of work or the nature of a contract. Even if you`ve established a regular clientele or a reputation, you may still need to continually promote yourself and seek out new work.

Incidentally, if you happen to need some excellent freelance writing or proofreading done for a fair, negotiable price " you know where to find me.