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Why Freelance Writers Should Stop Bitching About Crappy Pay

Carol Tice

Complaining freelance writerBy Linda Formichelli

I keep reading posts in writing forums where someone will say, “X company wants to pay $15 for a 750-word blog post. Why do they think that’s a good price?”

Or “This content mill thinks it can get away with paying $10 per article…why, why, why?”

Cue outraged comments from dozens of writers who spend their time contemplating and bemoaning the state of the writing industry.

It Doesn’t Matter

The thing  to remember is, these conversations get you nowhere as a writer. Frankly, it doesn’t MATTER why the low-ballers think they can get away with it.

Maybe they’re knowingly taking advantage of writers. Maybe they don’t know how to run a business. Maybe they think it’s fine because, hey, they’re getting lots of applications from writing hopefuls, right?

Who cares?

All that should matter to you is that you spend all of your precious time engaged in activities that will bring in well-paying work.

And if you’re spending your time complaining and ruminating to your friends and on writing forums, that means you’re not going after top-paying gigs.

It’s Pointless

Some writers craft angry responses to businesses seeking out writers on Craigslist or oDesk, proudly claiming they would never take on work with such crappy pay, and here’s why.

We call that “tilting at windmills.” You may momentarily piss off one of the low-pay culprits, but it’s not like they’re going to say, “Oh thank you, writer, I now see the error of my ways. From now on, instead of paying $15 for a 1,000-word article, I’ll pay the much more acceptable rate of $300.”

These crappy clients are not going to change their rates, especially when hordes of writers are banging down their doors to accept them. So you may as well focus your efforts on finding well-paying work.

It’s Better for YOU

And consider this: The more writers who go after the lowball jobs, the more high-paying work is left for you.

The Craigslist ads, bidding sites, and content mills are not meant for writers of your caliber. So let the dabblers fight over the scraps while you go after the filet mignon of assignments.

I don’t ever like to see writers falling into the low-pay trap, but they’re doing it in droves — so you may as well see the positive in the situation.

Pros Don’t Bother

To an established pro who’s used to making big bucks from her writing, these content mills, bidding sites, and bottom-feeder clients are not even on the radar. They don’t matter. They may as well not exist.

Pro writers complaining about low-pay gigs is like top-rated chefs complaining about the crappy pay at McDonald’s. You can bet your burger the top chef at a four-star restaurant doesn’t know or care about how much the fry cook jobs in the local papers are paying. Because he’s not looking there.

Those low-paying gigs aren’t going away any time soon. Take the time you would have spent kvetching about them, and use it to bring in gigs from top clients.

Have you moved beyond venting to action? Leave a comment and share how you’re moving forward.

Linda Formichelli Linda Formichelli has written for close to 150 magazines since 1997, including Redbook, USA Weekend, Writer’s Digest, Inc., and Fitness. She also runs the Renegade Writer Blog. Check out her e-book Write Your Way Out of the Rat Race…And Step Into a Career You Love.