Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Ramblings: Attempting the Freelance World Again

Every so often I go through this same procedure and just give up because it all just seems too hard. And I’m not one for giving up. I’m stubborn enough to butt my head against a wall until I crack it and it all comes down, brick by brick. But I just feel so lost whenever I try to break into this industry, probably because I am not confident enough in my own talent to really push for it, but also because I really don’t know where to start. And where do you start? The world of freelance writing is so huge and so daunting that you can try and jump in the deep end and see what kind of creatures you may encounter in the depths, or you can dip your toes in the shallow end and decide to walk away until the water gets warmer. But how does the water get warmer?

Four years ago I tried. I set up profiles on freelance websites, applied for different job listings and did some work for a company in India that was paying about $0.01 cents a word to write SEO articles. That lasted a week – my writing was worth much more than that. I wrote some pretty interesting articles for a blog, and was never credited for them (I can still see them up there for everyone to read), and was paid a little bit more than a pittance for them. Then I decided that I would rather write articles for my own blog, because at least I could give myself credit for it and write about what I wanted. So I basically gave up. At the time I just took on another job on top of my regular bartending job and focused on writing for myself in my free time.
This time around I have decided that I am going to try a bit harder. This is what I have always wanted to do: work from home as a writer. And now I’m even more motivated – I’m at home raising my daughter and therefore have flexible hours to write. And I’m good at it – I love writing about just about everything, I love doing the research, I love that feeling of excitement you get when you write the first draft and the words are coming out faster than you can type. I love going back to a draft to edit it and realizing that it really sounds good, that the tone and the style and the words all work, and that it is something you would want to read. I just love to express myself with words. It’s what I have been doing all my life. And to get paid for doing what I love? Who wouldn’t want that?

So how on earth do you start? I’ve read countless articles on what to do and where to go and how much to charge. But how do you REALLY get in there? How do you start selling your product for the correct price? Yet again I set up profiles on freelance sites. Yet again I started to bid for projects. And yet again I feel like it’s just not worth it. This time it’s not about my confidence – I KNOW I am good, and I know I can produce excellent copy. This time it’s about what I would be getting paid. I looked up freelance writer rates online, thought back to what we would pay our translators, editors and proofreaders when I worked for a translation agency and came up with what I think are correct rates. On the low end, but not selling myself short. The first ad I answered was very interested in what I could do for them (research and provide 2 blog articles a week on the bar and restaurant industry, showcasing people, drinks, food, locations etc); but told me I was expensive. I haven’t heard back again, but we will see about that one. Then yesterday as I perused through an email I receive on a daily basis from one of the freelance sites I saw an ongoing editing and proofreading job. Perfect – something to get me in there, start getting somewhat of a reputation, right? Something I know I can do very well seeing as I did it for years. And then I saw what they are paying. $1 a PAGE. $1 a page to edit, probably research, and proofread a copy? Are they completely insane?? Are there really people out there who work for that type of money? This means that in order to make $100 in a day you need to edit and proofread 100 pages. Assuming that there are about 250 words per page (industry standard) and that you proofread on average 1,000 words per hour, if you worked a 12 hour day you would therefore be making a whopping $48 at $4 an hour. And this is assuming that you have nothing else to do for 12 hours and that the copy is not too bad. If you did this for 7 days straight you would make $336 before tax at the end of the week. Do it for a month and your pay would be $1,344. Nope, NOT worth it. Who on earth works for these rates? And yes, I know that it’s possible to do the work a lot faster, but what kind of quality are you going to be providing? 

And that‘s the whole point isn’t it? Why would anyone in their right mind provide any kind of quality work if they are being paid a pittance to do so? And who are the people who are actually accepting these rates? How on earth am I ever going to find any kind of work in this industry if these are the jobs I have to accept? It’s extremely disheartening. Should I just give up on the whole idea of being a freelance writer again? How can I prove to potential employers that I have the skills that they need, and that they need to hire me, especially since I don’t have any real experience in the industry? I’m determined to not give in this time as I would like to be able to work from home, in my own time, doing what I love, but I still don’t know where to start. I suppose this is just the beginning of multiple ramblings and rants on the subject…

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