Tag Archives: freelance

When to Call it Quits

I thought I’d found the solution to my monetary problems. I was offered a chance to write 500 word articles for $20. My usual rate for 500 words varies on the amount of research, the style, and who the audience is, but it’s a safe bet that I usually charge between $10 – $15 per. This particular client made it all seem easy peasy, so I rattled off a test article for them. The “CEO” of their company liked it, but it needed some changes to go with their style guide. So I re-wrote it. Then I didn’t hear back. I tried reaching the “CEO” through several channels and after TWO WEEKS, I find out that 1) they’re still interested, but 2) they’ve changed the parameters, so now it’s 250 words for $10. That’s still pretty good, considering it’s just a small write-up, but would it be worth it to work for someone who thinks it’s ok to disappear for 2 weeks (while being “online” on Skype!!!)?

Try to do your own sleuthing

Ok, maybe we can’t really do background checks but people talk. Research the company or person who is commissioning the work. Do they have a lot of feedback? Or are they so difficult to find that it almost seems shady?

Stay in contact

Admittedly, I was becoming a bit of a pain in the posterior for this “CEO”. I messaged him daily on Skype, always reminding him that I still hadn’t heard from him. I then took to pestering his “assistant” but she’d only deflect it and say that he was going to contact me shortly. It never hurts to chase people down, but you might end up burning a bridge if you’re too zealous or if the person truly did have a good reason for being incommunicado.

Is it worth the hassle?
Man, $10 for 250 words could be the easiest money I’ve ever made. I could crank out article after article, no problem. But what if I were to take the job and the contact disappears again? What if the work runs out? I’m not even 40% confident in this employer.

To make a long story short, the “CEO” asked me to redo (AGAIN) a test article, this time for 250 words. But he was VERY vague about what he wanted and didn’t answer my last few questions before signing off. Needless to say, I’m not even going to pursue it anymore.

And the loser never gave me my $20!!


Spreading Yourself Thin?

Things were looking sparse in terms of work for me in recent weeks. For a solid month, I consistently had work every single day. Then I took a small break. Then I stopped applying and only did solicited jobs from repeat clients. So things tapered off a bit. Then (holy smokes!) things took off and I’ve only now found a few seconds to update this blog. I just finished a series of articles for one of my awesome repeats, and have been keeping my other blog (http://northernbeavertales.wordpress.com/) on the up and up. Next, I am doing a review of a CD  (long overdue) and continuing an outline for my design partners. I’ve realized that I really need to buy myself a good day planner.


If you’re not already a Type A Personality type kind of person, you should pretty much try to adopt it. Write down a list of all the projects both short and long term that you have and figure out what needs to be done ASAP and what can wait a bit. And like I said, maybe get a day planner so you can figure out when you’re going to get things done. 


My family was recently hit with a disgusting flu. I didn’t get much work done in that time, but I was always available for consult. I emailed my repeater asking for a 1 day extension, which he kindly granted. Most clients are understanding, if you need an extra day (and if you state that you want to make sure it’s good quality,) you shouldn’t have a problem. 

No Procrastinating!

As discussed here, turn the TV off and get your writing done. No excuses. If you’re awake and you’re feeling inspired (or even if you’re not,) spend a few hours where you can writing. If you’re getting paid for the job (and I seriously hope you are) just think of all that sweet cash you’re not making while you sit there watching Mad Men.

Ok so I can scratch “Write for the Ottawa Writer blog” off my list. Done.


The Next Step – Getting work without an intermediary

I’ve been using different contracting sites to get writing work. Through sites such as oDesk.com or Getacoder.com, you can find enough work to keep you busy, but they’re not always the way to go. March was an extremely busy month for me, writing-wise. Then April had gone from a feast to a famine. I did a few projects for a couple of repeat clients as well as some new ones, but it certainly wasn’t as lucrative.

But then something awesome happened. I approached one of my graphic designer friends who just happened to be looking for a dedicated writer. Everything is in order and we will be working together in the next few weeks to get our working partnership off the ground. Getting on board with her and her husband will be a game-changer for me because I will have steady work at a rate where writing full time could be a feasibility, and they will have an in-house writer (so to speak), making their web services a ready-made package of graphic design and web content.

Approach people

The only way you’re going to find work without using contracting sites is if you put yourself out there. Do you know anyone with their own business who could use a writer for their website or promotional material? It never hurts to ask. And even if you’re unsure if they could use your help, come up with reasons that they could accept. Also, be sure to always include samples of your work to back yourself up.

Turn your craft into a business

If you want to hire out your services, you need to have assurances to people that you’re a professional. Get business cards. Make a website with information on who you are, what you do and why people need your writing expertise. Even better, keep a blog (much like this one) to demonstrate your skills.

Network events

Oftentimes, there are networking events for people to introduce themselves as professional whatevers, and hope that someone there may require their services. Look up any local events that you think may benefit you. Make yourself as presentable as possible, get your business cards ready and be prepared to meet a lot of people who could help you out.

Writing work won’t just fall into your lap. If you don’t rely on a contracting site, you will need referrals and word of mouth. Once you build your reputation and portfolio, clients will be seeking you out, for a change. If you’re lucky, you’ll be in a position where you can command a very good pay rate, and you’ll have your pick of many writing projects. It’s all up to you.

When the pay ain’t quite right

I recently came across an ad on a freelancing platform that said “We will pay by word. Give us your rates.” I giggled to my partner, “What would they say if I asked for a buck a word?” then we seriously tried to calculate something absurd, but do-able. I assumed that the job was for a more high profile client, like a magazine, so I said that I’d accept $0.15 per word. Do the math. At 500 words, that’s ridiculous. And apparently there are people out there who actually can command those prices. But who would pay it, especially when outsourcing?


So mister client emails me back and it’s all beautiful until the email crashes at the end. He thought I said $15 for 500 words. Now I’m not saying that’s a bad price. That’s actually reasonable. I haggled with him a bit and managed to secure a bit more.

How do you measure what your work is worth?

It’s hard to say. There are people in the Philippines who will accept $5 for a 1000 word article. The real question then is if those particular people can actually write well. If so, I’m in trouble because I need to make real money in order to make it worth my while. (I also need to write faster, but that’s besides the point!)

Depends on the project

If I’m going to write 500 words for some SEO job, I’m going to expect maybe $20. But if I’m writing a feature piece in a high profile magazine, I will obviously negotiate for more. I’ve heard this magical rumour that some places pay $1.00 a word, but until I see it, I refuse to believe it. Jealousy does not become me! <– Of course, the remedy to that situation is to just get better and better until I actually have the clout to command that kind of price on an ongoing basis.

Ok, to bed I go. May I dream beautiful dreams and come up with some wittier posts for you.