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Old 01-05-2015, 02:10 PM
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Default Don't believe the hype...?

I'm a bit of newbie to the freelance writing game.

Just for background -- I've written all my life, and people have often told me I'm a good writer. I've always enjoyed the reactions my writing has had on folks, and the power of good written communication. I sold my first writing many moons ago to a national tabloid, but then slacked off writing for publication.

I decided to embark on a freelance career about 6 months ago, thinking I should give it a go while I have savings and before I'm just too old.

Another thing that encouraged me, however was the number of people (purportedly) making a full-time living as freelance web writers. I even read that there were people out there making 6 figures -- so surely I should be able to support myself after 6 months, I thought, if I just tried hard enough.

Now I'm realizing that most of the "pretty pictures" of 6-figure incomes were painted by people trying to sell writing courses and stuff like that. In the "gold rush" these were people selling the shovels, with a vested interest in propagating optimistic forecasts.

There are a lot of them on another forum I post to, and they don't tolerate any questioning of what a dream career writing is and how easy it is to make it. According to them, the market is so hungry that all you have to do is dive in.

It's sad in a way, because some people make life (and career) decisions based on what they read about writing careers.

Now that I'm in the trenches, I'm seeing that the going rate for articles is pennies per word. The competition for better paying work is fierce, and experienced writers with better portfolios than mine compete for even mediocre pay. Scams are replete. Finding the work is even harder than doing it -- and you don't even get paid for that part of the job.

Please forgive my pessimism. Is there something I'm missing? I guess what I'd really like to know is are any of you making a full time living at this? Is anyone making 6 figures?

Paying insurance? Saving for retirement? Earning vacation money? Socking money away for sick days and emergencies?

Please help me get a realistic picture of freelance writing as a career. I'm not asking if it's easy. I'm asking if it's viable.

And please don't tell me "you have to love it." That's a nonstarter for me, since there's nothing that I love so much that I want to do it all day everyday. If I hit the lottery tomorrow, I would still write, but I'd write about what I want to write about and not deal with clients at all.

I don't "love" it, but I'm ready to work hard ... And I'd much rather work smart. There's no way I'd want to work 7 days a week earning $.02 per word, plowing through an article every half hour every day. I don't love writing that much.

Anyway, please help me see what this is really all about. Is there enough demand out there for a newbie to jump in and make a living with dignity?

Last edited by bigpicture; 01-05-2015 at 02:12 PM.
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Old 01-05-2015, 03:14 PM
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I think it often takes more than 6 months to be able to support yourself with freelance writing. It took me about 2 years of writing from home part-time and then waitressing a couple nights a week before I could quit the waitressing job. I do make a living writing, but I have to admit it barely pays the bills. I don't have savings, paying taxes is a struggle, and my income really hasn't improved over the last few years. So while I'm glad I can pay most of the bills without leaving the house, I definitely wish I had more to show for what I do.

I am trying to get higher paying clients this year, but like you, I'm skeptical about how much I could really charge. I hear about some companies paying $.25 a word and up, but that doesn't seem to be the reality where I'm at! I'm usually stuck in the $.05-.12 per word range, and sometimes even lower when I need the work. My goal isn't even to make $100k necessarily. I would be happy making half that from home, especially while I'm still raising kids, but I don't see that happening until I can find those elusive clients who pay well. So basically, yeah you can pay the bills with freelance writing, but I don't personally know any writers who are truly thriving in this career. Sure, they're out there, but many of them make a lot of their money from coaching other writers and selling their books on how to write, like you mentioned!
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Old 01-05-2015, 03:25 PM
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I’ve been working as a writer for four years, and my income isn’t great. This works for our family because my husband has a better paying job, and it’s better for me to work at home.

I make between $0.03 and $0.10 per word. I get paid once weekly from an SEO marketing company that pays $0.03 per word, and has no limit on the amount of articles I can write. Other companies, especially high paying companies, do no offer a lot of continuous work, and payments sometimes take a while.

It’s difficult to come by high paying jobs, and oftentimes you’re left waiting for payment; sometimes for a month or more. My highest earning positions do not pay me for long periods of time. You complete the work according to the company’s editorial calendar, and they pay you after work has been edited, approved, and posted. I like to do 1 – 5 high paying articles a month, and then collect the payment for those down the road. Those are my highest earning weeks, sometimes netting me between $400 and $1000.

I also write and publish my own fiction. Depending on sales, I collect between $80 and $500 a month from Amazon royalty payments. I also make approximately $25 a month from my website, and my website is responsible for a lot of the free products I receive. I don’t count free items in my income, but I do receive between $500 and $1500 worth of free stuff a year.

This isn’t a career path I’d recommend to anyone who is the household’s main breadwinner. It’s difficult, and you never know when work is going to dry up. Finding clients is monotonous, but worth it during the beginning stages. Send your resume to everyone; query everywhere. Most queries and job inquiries will not get answered, so send a huge amount and hope for the best.

You said not to say, “You have to love it,” but I can’t help myself. The truth is, you have to love it. You have to want to put in the hours, and you have to accept the pay cut because it’s all a part of living as a writer. Take stock in knowing that all successful writers struggled in the beginning. It takes a long time to build a portfolio, and get pieces published under your name. You’ll get the better rate once your name is out there, so it’s worth it, but you’re not going to make a lot starting out. For me, it was over a year before I started making a livable wage, and after four years I’m not taking any vacations or shopping as much as I’d like.

Here’s the best piece of advice I can give you:
Take control of Google. Google yourself – if you don’t come up on the first page, you need to change that. Start adding anything you write and publish (especially blog content) to Google Plus’s authorship area. Ensure there are social media pages attached to your name (or pseudonym). These things are going to make Google take notice of you, so that when a client Googles you (They will!), they’ll see what you’re all about, and have examples of your writing.

To see what I mean, Google me: Alisia Compton. I dominate the first five pages or so of my Google results, and on page 3 of my results there are many articles I've written and published over the years.

Last edited by diva4lisia; 01-05-2015 at 03:26 PM.
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Old 01-05-2015, 04:06 PM
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Default Pennies instead of Dollars

I too tried my hand at writing and it was all pennies. I also tried a place called Bubblews. They were great for awhile (you cashed out at $50 and some people were hitting that daily; I got to almost once a week. Then they changed and decided they only wanted regular people and not writers; anotherwords they did not SEO type of articles; they want people to post like they are on Facebook; however the site is not setup that way at all and it is/wasn't where you could make friends and easily track them.

Anywho, every job I was hired for online rather writing or transcribing or what have you is always pennies. If you want to stay with that go for it, most everyone I know that finally made it bit that sour bullet and went into internet marketing. It's not all roses either, but makes larger sums of money for a bit less of keystrokes (IMHO).

Best of wishes for a PROFITABLE 2015 for you!
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Old 01-05-2015, 05:25 PM
Ray Ray is offline
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Default You are cynical for a reason

Here's my experience and conclusions with freelance writing (not necessarily any indication of what's ahead for you, but may provide some insights).

When I first tried it several years ago I tried all the popular options, online content - the big content mills, bidding on jobs on places like elance, flexjobs, guru etc. and content sharing sites driven by advertising... All of these were a waste of time except:

The big content mills "hired" just about anyone but their forms and rules were draconian, impossible to make more than about $25 a week working for them. Eventually it got so frustrating I stopped trying with them. Very belittling behavior towards writers...

I applied at WiseGeek, told it was very hard to get hired there, managed to impress them and got on board. Worked for WG for about a year, wrote close to a thousand articles for them - all very heavily technical science and engineering articles which I was paid an average of 9-12 dollars each for. Basically made minium wage but was able to pay the bills and relatively happy there. Then Google did an algorithm update and WiseGeek dropped way down in the ratings and pretty much fired 90% of their writers on the spot.

There are other article writing sites now similar to WiseGeek where it is fairly easy to get on board, but they all have these horrifically boring technical articles they want you to write, heating and air conditioning repair procedures, stuff like that. Mind numbingly dull even compared to the work I did for WG. In other words, SOUL CRUSHING, and for a pittance, just enough for you to barely survive.

I also worked in the academic field, writing papers for college students (technically these companies get around the cheating issue with this by claiming you are just providing "research" material for the student, not an actual paper).. Made pretty good money at several companies doing this, the best one being out of the UK. (Advantageous because they paid in pounds and when it was converted to dollars you made about 1.5 times as much for each paper).

The competition then got really really stiff with this work, PhDs. doing it, and I could no longer get any jobs (you have to bid on everything in this field or do everything on spec, no guaranteed work or pay).

My bottom line advice to you: Avoid freelance writing. It will crush your soul. Instead, just focus on writing about what interests you personally, put it out on Amazon, Smashwords and elsewhere, fiction and nonfiction, and you will enjoy your work and have just as much chance of making a living at it or more. Create your own writer's website and promote yourself. (This is now the path I'm taking. Its risky, its hard, but bottom line here is do you want to write things you really have no passion for for pennies, or write what your heart speaks to you about? Kruschev once said, "Life is short. Live it up." That's basically my direction for the new year.)

Good luck to you and if you need to talk let me know and we can exchange email addresses. Being a writer is a lonely business, but its a calling many of us just can't ignore...

Last edited by Ray; 01-05-2015 at 05:28 PM.
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Old 01-05-2015, 05:39 PM
Ray Ray is offline
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Default One other thing I would add...

Where is the real money in freelance writing?

There is one place and one place alone where you will make a good living as a freelance writer, and that is in copywriting.

Basically, business/advertising writing. That's what many of these content mills actually offer freelancers online, they are go-betweens, middleman for many types of businesses that need people to write advertising for their sites, technical articles, SEO etc...

So if you can tolerate churning out this drivel, AND if you can motivate yourself to seek out these companies on your own and offer your services, you can slowly build a lucrative freelance writing business this way. This IS a real opportunity, but its no better than having a horrible traditional job in the bricks and mortar world.

It seems like this country has always been set up to discourage people from being artistic and creative, and that includes the field of writing.

Its like someone once said, "whenever you are starting a new venture, you are never met at the airport."

Doing what you love is the most satisfying thing in the world, but its often virtual starvation time until you start building an audience of loyal customers...

Have you ever heard the stories of authors who have experimented by rewriting the classic best-sellers, changing the details slightly so the books are unrecognized, sending them out under their own names, and getting rejected as the work being no good by dozens and dozens of publishers? This experiment has been conducted several times.

What it teaches is that your work can be extremely well done, beautiful, but without name recognition, your chances of making much at it as a writer is like winning the lottery.

You just have to maintain faith in yourself and keep working every day.
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Old 01-05-2015, 05:50 PM
Ray Ray is offline
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Default And another thing...

Sorry, but this is on my mind right now and want to be thorough for you.

You may have read a lot about blogging as a good way to build an income. It used to be about ten years ago, but the web is now saturated with millions and millions of blogs, most of which never get read by anyone but the blogger themselves.

Even the elite sites like copyblogger will tell you now that if you want to have a successful monetized blog, you have to put about five years of work into it for free, minimum, building your audience, contributing to it every day. Then, maybe, just maybe, you'll start eeking out a living at it.

My advice, express what is unique about you. Let all these people offering you "opportunities" for a penny a word spin in the wind and stay true to yourself.

When you are on your death bed, you won't be proud that you wrote an article promoting life insurance products. You'll be proud you wrote a book about how to cut down on cooking time and still make fabulous meals, or a novel about an orphaned elf and her pet hippopatamus that just happened to save the world...

Okay, I'm out of here.
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Old 01-05-2015, 07:03 PM
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I think the days of making an easy living online are long gone. Many people seem to do well after finding private clients but unless you find a long-term, steady client you'll spend a fair amount of time seeking new business or trying to build enough small clients to make it work. Regardless of how many good clients you find you'll still have months where you're scrimping and months when you're flush. Add to that the issues with not getting paid or chasing payments and you're doing a lot of admin work for free.

I do Leapforce for the bulk of my income and write for pleasure as much as money. I get pretty consistent work from an online magazine that doesn't pay well but I only write travel articles - something I really enjoy.

I've tried writing those ghastly HVAC and dental articles and it is pure torture. I couldn't make a living doing that even if the pay were spectacular.

My way works for me. I enjoy LF, I love writing travel articles, and between the two I stay refreshed and have an income.
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Old 01-06-2015, 02:35 AM
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I make a full-time living of about 15,000 a year, which is completely adequate to cover my expenses and put a small amount into savings. I have no interest in earning six figures; I'd rather keep my flexible schedule, where I can take a couple of hours off in the middle of every day to do exercise or run errands.

I typically earn about $0.05/word, solely through content mills. I find private clients to be a hassle so generally don't bother with them.

Quote:
Basically, business/advertising writing. That's what many of these content mills actually offer freelancers online, they are go-betweens, middleman for many types of businesses that need people to write advertising for their sites, technical articles, SEO etc...

So if you can tolerate churning out this drivel, AND if you can motivate yourself to seek out these companies on your own and offer your services, you can slowly build a lucrative freelance writing business this way. This IS a real opportunity, but its no better than having a horrible traditional job in the bricks and mortar world.
I disagree that it's no better than any other job. Currently, I'm sitting in my comfortable pajamas on the floor (my preferred seating arrangement), eating oatmeal and lining up work for the day. It's around 9.30 am and I got out of bed 10 minutes ago. It's wonderfully quiet and peaceful. At around lunchtime I'll leave work and go swimming for an hour, then call in at the supermarket to buy food for dinner, then after a bit more work I'll put dinner in the oven while I finish off my last couple of articles of the day. If I had a traditional job, I'd have to get up early, commute, put up with being surrounded by other people all day, and only be able to take breaks when management said so - probably without the option of wandering off-site for a couple of hours to soak up some daylight. I've done that kind of job and by the time I got home I would always be so stressed out by eight hours of forced interactions and disruptions that I wouldn't want to go out again, so had no social life.
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Old 01-06-2015, 06:44 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by springtulip View Post
I make a full-time living of about 15,000 a year, which is completely adequate to cover my expenses and put a small amount into savings. I have no interest in earning six figures; I'd rather keep my flexible schedule, where I can take a couple of hours off in the middle of every day to do exercise or run errands.

I typically earn about $0.05/word, solely through content mills. I find private clients to be a hassle so generally don't bother with them.



I disagree that it's no better than any other job. Currently, I'm sitting in my comfortable pajamas on the floor (my preferred seating arrangement), eating oatmeal and lining up work for the day. It's around 9.30 am and I got out of bed 10 minutes ago. It's wonderfully quiet and peaceful. At around lunchtime I'll leave work and go swimming for an hour, then call in at the supermarket to buy food for dinner, then after a bit more work I'll put dinner in the oven while I finish off my last couple of articles of the day. If I had a traditional job, I'd have to get up early, commute, put up with being surrounded by other people all day, and only be able to take breaks when management said so - probably without the option of wandering off-site for a couple of hours to soak up some daylight. I've done that kind of job and by the time I got home I would always be so stressed out by eight hours of forced interactions and disruptions that I wouldn't want to go out again, so had no social life.

Sounds like the type of life I would like to live. As an introverted loner, I'm looking into freelance writing as a way to make an income without having to deal with people all the time. My current day job requires me to work alone, but the environment is strict and sometimes has a lull in hours because of the seasons. I prefer a less structured schedule, too.

I write as a hobby (mostly fiction) since making money as an author (which would require me to practically be a salesperson) is a headache for me. I also feel that way when it comes to money. I just want to make enough to pay bills and save. Being wealthy isn't important to me. (I guess I can also say this because I'm single with no children, and own a cat, so I don't have to worry about dependents to care for.)

I'm using Elance, and lurking on content mills. I've used Textbroker before, but kind of abandoned it after work decreased and some of the topics didn't interest me.

I currently live with a relative, but am working on finding a roommate since where I live has a high cost of living.

This niche doesn't seem to suit everyone, but one must find what works for them. No one can like everything.

Last edited by ssrr88; 01-06-2015 at 08:26 AM. Reason: Grammar error
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