The Renegade Writer

On Writing for Peanuts

A couple of weeks ago, someone posted a comment on this blog saying that in dissing content mills like Associated Content we “just don’t get it,” and bragged that she earns $1,200 per month on her articles on Associated Content and similar sites. (When I checked, I saw that the writer had over 1,000 articles on Associated Content alone; for writing 1,000 500-word articles, I would expect at least $500,000.) Then, on a writers’ forum I belong to on LinkedIn, a poster insisted that $25 for 1,000 words is the “going rate” for online writing.

Sometimes I feel like a dinosaur for insisting that writers be paid fairly for their time, effort, and skill. It seems the new way to make money is to churn out hundreds of online articles that pay a few dollars apiece.

Let me set one thing straight: I do not believe that writers who work for cheap are depressing the rates for professional writers. Sites that pay writers $4 per article are not going to suddenly pony up $1 per word or more because they can’t find writers willing to work for peanuts. That just ain’t gonna happen. If by some miracle these sites were no longer able to afford writers, they would probably simply go belly-up. And markets that pay $1, $2, and more per word are not going to start offering $4 per article “just because they can,” because they can see from these content mills the kind of quality that payrate buys. It’s like saying that McDonald’s grill-jockeys are depressing the rates for master chefs.

But I do believe that writers deserve to be paid a decent rate, whether they’re writing for online or print markets. And I believe it’s wrong for hobbyists and inexperienced writers to tell skilled newbies that all they can expect for their work is pennies.

Here are some of the arguments the cheap writers (and content mills looking for cheap writing) offer:

Get with it — print is dying, and these content mills and other cheap online markets are the wave of the future. True, there are a lot of changes happening in print media these days. Also true, some big-name magazines have been shuttering. But I write mainly for print markets, and even in this slow economy, my income has remained steady. (And I support my family nicely on this income.) I think writers see a few big mags shutting down, and they panic. But there are many, many more magazines than those you see on the newsstands. There are literally thousands of trade and custom publications that pay well and that are thriving. These days much of my income comes from custom publishers, and they all pay at least $1 per word.

$25 for 1,000 words is the standard rate for online writing. According to who? According to the content mills that pay that much, maybe. But early in my career a good portion of my income came from maybe a dozen online magazines, all of which paid at least $1 per word. And most recently, I had a blogging gig that paid $2,000 per month for four blog posts of any length I chose. On the LinkedIn discussion I mentioned above, a dozen writers chimed in with online markets they write for now that pay very well.

I write for these low rates to build up a clip file so I can break into better-paying markets. First, you don’t need a whole file of clips to break into paying markets — all you need is one. Second, your first clip doesn’t have to come from a market that pays cheap or not at all. One of the students in my latest Write for Magazines e-course broke into SELF — without a single clip to her name. She was paid $400 for 400 words. My very first clip paid $500, and I know other writers whose first clips came from well-paying markets. Third, take my word for it — no editor of a market with decent rates is going to take a clip from a content mill seriously. There are no barriers to entry — practically anyone can post their writing — and even if you write a stellar article (which I’m sure you will), it will be surrounded by lazy reporting, bad writing, and unprofessional presentation.

Writing for content mills will give me a ton of exposure I can parlay into high-paying gigs. A good friend of mine says, “People die of exposure.” Editors of high-paying markets aren’t dredging through the dreck in content mills looking for that one fabulous writer; they have writers coming to them with ideas, and writers in their stables that they assign in-house ideas to. Better to spend your time pitching markets that pay, both online and off. If you’re hell-bent on exposure, you’ll get a lot more of it –and it will be better quality — in publications that pay. A friend of mine, for example, just landed an agent who saw an article she wrote in a national magazine.

Sure, these articles pay only $10 apiece, but I can write four of them an hour, meaning I make $40 per hour. Not bad. I cringe when I hear this. What kind of researching, reporting, and writing can you possibly be doing if you can write an article in 15 minutes? Maybe this isn’t your concern, and that’s understandable if your main goal in life is to write for content mills. But I hate to break it to you — $40 per hour is not as great as it sounds (especially if you need to write four articles each hour to get that amount!). If you’re a freelancer or aiming to be one, you base your minimum per-hour pay on a number of factors; for example, you need to be able to cover your own health insurance costs, pay more employment taxes than 9-5ers, shell out for your own office equipment and supplies, and so on. That can really chip away at your hourly rate. Whether I’m writing for a print or online market, I typically earn from $150 to $300 per hour. By earning such rates I’m able to make a full-time income working only part-time. I’m sure many writers earn even more per hour, and they don’t have to churn out four articles per hour to do it.

I almost want to say, “Hey, if someone wants to write for $10 per article, that leaves more decent-paying work for me.” But I can’t do that. I’m all about helping writers reach their dreams of supporting themselves through their writing. If your career goal is to write articles at $10 per, that’s fine…but please don’t tell aspiring professional writers that this is all they can expect. I’m friends with dozens of writers who make a great living writing for online and print markets, and if they (and I) can do it, anyone can. It takes time, skill, and persistence, but it is absolutely doable. Value your talents, and others will value them too. [lf]

Nov 29, 2009 Advice, Magazines, Money, Observations, Personal yammerings, Rants, Writing

61 Responses

  1. Thanks so much for saying this, Linda. It is important that new writers understand that the content mills aren’t their only options, and if they still want to write for them, that’s their choice.

    I’ve always felt that every minute you’re wasting on content mills is a minute you could be building relationships with editors, pitching higher-paying publications, and getting work that improves you as a writer.

    • jane says:

      I’m really glad you wrote this. I just had it out on a site with people about this topic. I felt like I was speaking another language. It’s one of the few times words have failed me. Thank you for reminding me what it is to be a freelance writer, and that there are people who value us.

  2. HazelKLarkin says:

    “It’s like saying that McDonald’s grill-jockeys are depressing the rates for master chefs.”

    The most beautiful analogy I’ve read in a long time. Can’t disagree with a word you’ve written here, either.

    HKL

  3. Randy Hecht says:

    Well said, Linda–thanks for this and for your comments on that LinkedIn thread, which–full disclosure and all that–I started.

    The difference between earning dollars versus pennies per word is not the difference between the past and the future–it’s the distinction between thoroughly and professionally reporting a piece and throwing words at the screen as fast as possible to up a meager hourly rate. That’s not to say that properly trained journalists aren’t finding the current economic and industry conditions challenging. But they at least have the skills to qualify for assignments in markets that do pay well. People who write for the content mills are instilling in themselves practices that will *close* doors to future opportunities. They’re learning how to get stuck forever in low-pay, low-quality word manufacturing.

    In that LinkedIn thread, I listed a dozen online media that pay well, including the Match.com magazine Happen, MSN.com’s dating channel, MSN Money, AARP’s website, Bankrate.com, BlackEnterprise.com, YaleEnvironment360, the online-only member journal of the American Ceramics Society, MillerMcCune.com, CFO Research Services, MotherJones.com and Wired.com.

    Within a day of starting that thread, I got an email from someone who asked me to give her “contact info of any website that pays well…I did check the websites you had listed but no writing opportunities presented themselves in any of them.” That request pretty much sums up how some people have programmed themselves to earn low wages. They expect information to be delivered to their desktops–given to them rather than earned by them.

    There’s no way that this writer sent pitches to all twelve outlets and got rejections from all twelve in that time–that couldn’t happen in any 24-hour period, much less on the Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend. And there’s little in the way of subject matter that isn’t covered by those 12 outlets, which among them tackle topics as diverse as dating/relationships, personal finance, corporate finance, business, science, technology, environmental issues, social and political issues, health, family, travel, lifestyle, celebrities/entertainment, food…if “no writing opportunities presented themselves in any of them,” I haven’t a clue what this would-be well-paid writer *would* cover–and I’m not about to start throwing editors’ email addresses at her under those circumstances.

    That’s the difference between professional journalists and content mill word manufacturers–reporting. And in freelance reporting, the first thing you need to investigate is which markets cover your topics and meet your wage standards. If you can’t even do that–if you lack the skills or initiative to do the reporting necessary to meet your own interests–you’re never going to be able to do reporting that serves readers’ interests. And without that, you’ve consigned yourself to a low-quality, low-paying career.

  4. Steve Sears says:

    Linda:

    Excellent piece, chock full of worthwhile points!

  5. Chanize says:

    Well written, Linda.

    I’ve been pitching some websites and receiving a good many “yes! We’ll pay you $25 for 1,000 words….sorry it can’t be more, but are you interested?” responses. The thing is, some are connected to big magazines or companies so it’s pretty confusing why they are paying so low.

    I’ve only come across one decent paying online outlet (50 cents a word) but unfortunately they are shutting down at the end of December! Geez.

    So, I’m glad you’ve said the outlets do exist. It gives me motivation to dig a little more and not throw in the towel and think about another career. I usually am not one to let the panic of what’s going on in the industry get to me, but it’s been hard.

  6. Thanks for your comments, everyone!

    Randy, the fact that this writer said “no opportunities presented themselves” is telling. It sounds like she’s expecting paying jobs to detect her awesome IP address and jump through her screen. All she has to do is visit and riches will be hers!

  7. Jenn Mattern says:

    Fantastic article Linda!

    Just this morning I saw a writer on a forum saying that “professional” writers don’t work for as little as $1 per article. They work for $5 per article instead! I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.

    Thank you for calling out the flaws in some of these arguments. The one that always gets under my skin is the assumption that low pay per article is higher pay per hour because people can crank out multiple articles per hour. The assumption there is that if it pays more it must take significantly more time. That just isn’t true.

    Most blog posts I write for clients are short, basic info or opinion pieces, and they usually fall in the 20-minute to one hour range. These are the types of pieces people think they can only get $15-20 for. Most of my clients pay in the $150-200 range, with the lowest being a little over $70 (and the quickest articles to turn around). For features and actual reporting, I charge much more than that. For commercial writing I charge much more than that. Those things do take more time, as content mill writers claim. In the end though, I keep my hourly rate rather steady and usually well over $150 per hour. There is no cramming in one article after another for hours every day. I get more time to myself and more time to invest in my own projects and sites. And there’s never a sudden need to jam even more articles into my schedule just to earn a few bucks for the weekend, the holidays, etc.

    If you can get to that point without having to invest a lot more time per article (if at all), not trying to just isn’t a smart business decision. Like you mentioned, if a hobby writer is content with that, by all means there’s nothing wrong with it. The problem is when people in that boat or others who are happy to settle start convincing newer professionals that they can’t (or shouldn’t) be looking for something better.

    I also always love the excuse of taking these gigs because they pay quickly. Most of my clients pay in full, up front. When you build demand (on the Web — no one expects print markets to do the same), you have that luxury and you don’t have to accept ridiculously low pay in order to get the convenience.

    It’s up to the writer to figure out their ideal hourly rate and how to get there without burning out and pushing themselves to the brink of quitting by constantly cramming in as much work as humanly possible. The Web hasn’t changed that. If anything, it’s made it easier to earn a good living as a freelance writer — not just an acceptable one. But those great gigs aren’t handed out to writers who aren’t willing to network and build a platform and show people the real value in their work. Those who look for the easy way out will always earn less than they otherwise could. The irony is that the other route doesn’t really involve that much more work. If anything, it’s even easier once you’re established and the bulk of your work comes to you instead of the other way around.

    I’ve gotten to the point where this is how I see it: those who are perfectly content making $20-40k per year can probably do it if they constantly work on churning out more content for content mills. Those looking to earn 2-3 times that much while working fewer hours will eventually have to figure out that there’s a much better way if they just choose to take it. As for the writer who felt $5 was the “professional” norm, well, some people are just delusional.

  8. Terri says:

    Linda, I think it’s great that you and other successful freelancers spend as much time as you do educating writers on why they should avoid content mills. But I think the old adage about leading a horse to water might be applicable. To be a successful freelancer you need to be a good marketer. If you’re looking for opportunities to show up in your lap or an advertisement to tell you that a site needs writers, you’re destined to write for peanuts. I think many of the writers who gravitate to content mills are those who either don’t realize that marketing is a key part of the equation or who think doing the legwork to get the good gigs is too much work.

  9. Thank you for bringing light to this subject. I too think writers should be paid well for their work and that it should be about quality not quantity. I don’t believe writers have to do any work for free, even if they don’t have clips. My first piece was in Better Homes & Gardens. Granted, it was a small craft piece, but it gave me the confidence I needed to keep going. I found that by researching the markets and writing an effective query letter, I could get decent-paying assignments.

  10. Ulrike says:

    I think Kerrie hit the nail on the head – I believe it’s all about confidence. If you are starting out, even if you started out pitching decent paying publicatyion, but may have had rejections, confidence is low and anybody who will publish you is welcome.
    Once confidence grows however, these writers should move on and set themselves higher targets. It takes a little time to value yourself, believe in your abilities and your worth.
    Until then, hats off to anybody who can churn out four articles in an hour…I couldn’t.

    • stephanie says:

      that was a really encouraging comment from you and from Kerry (immediately above your comment). your positivity, i hope will reward you three-fold. thank you both!!!

  11. Jesaka Long says:

    Linda, thank you for such an articulate and beautifully argued post. I hope it will reach someone who’s considering one of those $1 or $5 jobs and help him or her realize that it is absolutely possible to do better! Like many bloggers and writers, I’ve written several posts in hopes of educating new writers. You give me new hope!

  12. Tegan says:

    This is so correct. Thank you!!!

  13. Margaret says:

    On the one hand, there’s the inconsistent editing and vague titles to choose from. On the other hand there’s the electric bill, the phone bill, you get my point. I’ve been writing for one of these content mills to fill the gaps between good gigs, and generally select only topics on which I can write knowledgeably without a ton of research. I never know what I’m going to find when I open an email with the subject line “Rewrites required on your recent submission”! The editing varies greatly on these things and the titles we get to choose from are poorly categorized and often cryptic. Add to this the fact that writers get graded on how many articles go through without rewrites, and rated on the quality of their research by these inconsistent editors. This is a frustrating situation for beginning writers who haven’t yet developed a thick skin. I wouldn’t recommend it for me, either!

  14. Becky says:

    Thanks, Linda!

    Erik Sherman (who I believe I discovered through your website) wrote an interesting article on BNET a few weeks ago entitled Gresham’s Law of the Web: Crap Content Quashes Quality. (http://industry.bnet.com/technology/10003953/content-factories-and-bad-internet-money/?tag=shell;content) He’s not in favor of writer mills and has repeatedly advised writers against working for sites like Associated Content on his Writer Biz blog (http://www.eriksherman.com/WriterBiz/), but this article makes some interesting points about how they could change the face of online content.

    And for what it’s worth, there are major media sites–MarieClaire.com and The Huffington Post to name a few–who don’t pay writers for web content. Sad but true.

  15. John Soares says:

    Linda, I agree with most of what you say.

    I’ve never written for a content mill. However, I do have a relative who wrote a couple of articles as a way to get over her jitters and get something finished in print. She recently landed a $2000 assignment from a college textbook publisher.

  16. Monica Shaw says:

    Wow – well said. In one of my earlier gigs, I wrote articles for $.07 a word for a health website, which was “fine” if I churned out articles fast enough. Sure, it satisfied my freelance newbie’s itch to “get my foot in the door.” But at the same time, I wasn’t really proud of this “work” and I wouldn’t use those articles as clips when pitching “real stories” to the editors. In fact, all the gig was doing for me was providing a meager one-off profit. In other words, the job did provide sustaining value. I couldn’t even resell the articles as the website bought all rights. I’d be better off writing stuff for my own blog, about subjects I care about, owning my own content, and reaping the ad revenue for as long as the content was live. And you’re right – you don’t need a mountain of clips to get published. I received my first print commission from The Daily Telegraph with no clips to my name. And to make an income while I establish myself, I write business reports for a marketing firm which pays waaaay better than the content mills.

  17. mimi says:

    I wrote an article for an online wedding website and was paid $1 a word. I simply don’t have time to churn out hundreds of articles for $25 a piece. What people should do is realize what they are experts in and pitch ideas to online magazines/sites that deal with their expertise. Instead of writing all over the map find your niche and go with it.

    • Ruby says:

      I have been reading all over the web to find useful information and words of wisdom about writing. Your statement helped a lot with what to actually do in order to be successful.
      When beginning in the writing field, there are so many unknowns and different viewpoints it is difficult to find one set of rules. Of course, not living by a set of rules is usually the draw of being a freelance writer, but that vastness can become overwhelming when first starting out. So to keep it short, thank you for the tip.

  18. Henri says:

    I started out by selling a few travel pieces and a short story online, while selling some content at a very cheap rate for one particular online site. Next I feel like a hit a brick wall with the travel stories (even the venues where I first sold were uninterested in a second story), but I have found a better paying content mill, which I contribute to weekly and they help pay the bills. Meanwhile, I am still sending off stories, but am still perplexed as to why I can’t find the right market for the travel articles.

    Thanks so much for the informative article.

    Henri

  19. […] Renegade Writer Blog On Writing for Peanuts Linda Formichelli lends her voice to the “content mill” discussion with this beautifully […]

  20. Steve says:

    Jenn Mattern Said:

    “Most blog posts I write for clients are short, basic info or opinion pieces, and they usually fall in the 20-minute to one hour range. These are the types of pieces people think they can only get $15-20 for. Most of my clients pay in the $150-200 range, with the lowest being a little over $70 (and the quickest articles to turn around).”

    Jenn,

    I don’t want to be confrontational, and maybe I’m missing something obvious, as I’m a lay person and not familiar with the online freelance market. But it really appears from what you’ve said that the kind of articles you describe require no special training or credentials, and only those skills common to literate, educated people. You don’t say anything to indicate what makes your opinion or basic info piece worth that much more money that something written in a similar time period for a content mill for $25.

    What happens if one of your clients stubles on this thread and realizes that there are writers willing to work for far less than they pay you. Are you able to say that you give better value than those people?

    This is a time of economic hardship, and people at all levels of society and the world of business are looking for opportunities to cut costs. Are you an endangered species?

    I’m not trying to diss you. You may be a much better writer than the cheapies. But I’m trying to figure out how all this actually works.

    -Steve

  21. DianaBurrell says:

    Linda, brava for this post. We’ve talked about this in person, but I’ll say it publicly: you’re a much better person than I am for fighting this battle. When I run up against these people, I typically give them a mental shrug and go on my merry way.

    What a lot of these content mill writers miss in their dollars-per-hour get-rich fairy tales is that there are writers at the table — and I like to think I’m one of them — who care about something called craft. Content mill writers will argue they can write fast and well … I’m sure many of them can at some level … but there’s more to writing than stringing words together into a sentence that can be read by a 5th grader. There are those of us who want to write pieces that are evocative, that play with language, even piss readers off a little by presenting a surprising point-of-view. Those kinds of stories take time — not just researching, but time spent thinking and absorbing and sifting (I spend hours gazing off into space; my husband always looks at me and says, “You’re writing, aren’t you?”). And yes, those of our ilk want to be paid well for those stories — and I, in most cases, am paid very well for this kind of work.

    I have no incentive or desire to convince the writer mill writers to jump ship and come over to my side. Stay there. You’re not taking money or jobs away from me. My concern is for the budding writer who has a voice, a POV (and ironically, my potential competition). Linda’s dead-on right. Listen to her.

  22. Jenn Mattern says:

    Steve,

    Sorry I wasn’t a bit more clear in my original comment, but here’s some more context:

    1. Those blog posts are just a portion of what I write, not my full income (or even the bulk of it).

    2. The majority of blogging I do is business blogging rather than generic Web content like you’ll find on content mills. I’m not given keywords and a title and told to write something for search engines.

    3. When a blog is actually vital to a business (talking about more than earning through Adsense — something that serves as a communications platform with customers, clients, vendors, colleagues, etc.) companies don’t just hire any old content writer. They hire an authority source in the niche. That’s why I constantly tell writers who come to me for advice that they should think about specializing.

    4. The types of clients who hire authority bloggers or those with specific skills (like a linkbait blogger, someone who’s great at getting community involvement with posts, etc.) generally won’t even consider hiring cheaper writers. Whether it’s “right” or not, there’s a stigma attached.

    So no, I’m not an endangered species. Content mill writers aren’t my competition because we don’t work within the same markets, and that’s true for most writers who charge more. Being able to conduct basic research isn’t enough to cut it in a lot of the higher paying markets. Clients want people who can write from experience and provide insight or opinions that aren’t simply recycled. That’s the type of value they’re looking for.

    Remember, low price isn’t the same thing as value. Content mill writers who will write about anything under the sun can’t offer the same kind of overall value to a business (other than the content mill variety) as a specialist in a niche. On the pricing front, the benefit is that even at much higher rates than $20 per article / post, freelancers are much more cost-effective than hiring regular employees to come on board. When a company would be spending $70k per year for a full-timer after salary, their portion of taxes, insurance, and benefits, they’re very happy to get an experienced niche specialist who can do the same work for $50k in fees, even if it takes them less time. They’re not looking for a generalist at $20k who they still have to train and who hasn’t proven they can deliver on the client’s goals and in their niche or industry. There’s too much risk in that.

    Clients paying good money for writers generally don’t need to be convinced of the value in paying well. I’ve found this holds true across all types of business writing I’m involved with, which includes blogging and content writing (corporate blogs, SEO articles for company sites, newsletter articles, etc.). They’ve often learned it the hard way over the years by hiring cheaper contractors first or they’ve hire qualified pros at good rates and seen the kinds of returns they can bring.

    I hope that clarifies the differences a bit. It’s not how long an article takes you that matters (speaking of basic Web content and blogging as opposed to features and marcomm work). It’s about the type of return the client’s looking for. Most commercial clients out there (the ones who pay well but don’t usually advertise publicly) fortunately aren’t looking for content that brings in PPC ad revenue.

  23. Steve says:

    Jenn,

    Thanks for the response. I understand better now what it is that you do and how that market works. I’m sorry if my comment might have been a bit clueless.

    -Steve

  24. Jenn Mattern says:

    Steve — not clueless at all. It’s good to see someone asking about the value issue rather than simply assume one type of writer is a direct potential replacement for another kind of writer. It’s a common misunderstanding and why the global economy / digital economy issue really has very little to do with writers at the higher end of the pay spectrum. Sorry I didn’t think to branch out the response more initially, but thanks for asking so I could clarify a bit. :)

  25. […] Linda Formichelli’s The Renegade Writer On Writing for Peanuts […]

  26. Karen Elliott says:

    I’m in several groups on Linked In and this seems to be a hot topic all around lately. People post “write for cheap” or “write for nothing now, but later….” posts and LI members ATTACK! Not many of us on Linked In are willing to write for peanuts. Even though I’m just busting out and breaking in, I would not lower my standards. I write well, I get paid well. Period. I enjoyed the point you made about McD’s and chefs. Very entertaining piece and well said.

  27. Gwynneth says:

    Hey Linda:

    Can I leave a Johnny-come-lately reply? Don’t forget to re-assess those clients who started out paying decently but who are gradually, ever so carefully, increasing their required word count while doing nothing about the pay rates.

    I’m currently experiencing this with one of my favorite clients and it was tough to realize this was happening. They are nice to write for and I’ve always gotten great editorial guidance/polish. However, it’s no longer worth my time to write for them, even though I started out making a decent rate. I’m much better finishing up the two remaining assignments and moving on to market my skills to another (dare I say better paying?) client.

  28. Barbara says:

    I wish that I’d read your website a few years ago. I would greatly love to be able to do well as a freelance writer.

    Truthfully when I first started writing on Associate Content, I had no idea what writing paid, and had no idea of the real possiblities. I was just thrilled that someone had paid me for writing, so anyway, now that I’ve been reading through your site, I think I am going to make a concentrated effort to find better paying places to write.

    Anyway, thanks for a very informative site, I appreciate it.

  29. […] Speaking of blogs, there is a site called The Renegade Writer that has a very true take on the content mills as well in their post on “Writing for Peanuts”: http://www.therenegadewriter.com/2009/11/29/on-writing-for-peanuts/ […]

  30. Julie H. says:

    I LOVED this blog post (somehow stumbled upon it even though I see it is from quite a while ago). I only wish my younger self had stumbled upon it before I started gleefully submitting articles for the content mills.

    I actually just posted my own forewarning on my blog/website and linked this post to that (if that is not okay, just let me know and I will absolutely remove the link). As I mentioned on my own post, warning others about writing for the content mills is pretty much a community service. :)

  31. Linda! This still applies today! :) I sent you an email a week or so ago about being a contributor to a book I am writing addressing this very issue – providing inspiration for new writers who think “$25 / 1000 words” is the going rate (or less). I hope you received it and would be willing! :)

  32. […] A writer who took a stand against writing for free. […]

  33. Perfect. Thanks for writing this, Linda.

    I heartily agree with this conclusion: “Value your talents, and others will value them too.”

    There are many ways to discover and exercise our writing talents, but I too have noticed that sometimes after writers have swallowed the content mill blue pill, they can’t very easily cough it back up.

    This post addresses their errors in judgement perfectly and shows a higher self-esteem road. Well done!

  34. Caleb says:

    OMG! This is seriously eye-opening and just broke some serious paradigms I’ve had on breaking into writing. It’s inspiring to know that churning out AS MUCH AS YOU CAN is not the only way to make a decent income out of this.

    I appreciate this new and refreshing perspective, big time.

  35. Lorna says:

    I wish I’d read this back in the days when I was slogging away for article mills and feeling totally degraded because of it. I like to refer to it as “working from the luxury of your own home-based sweatshop.”

  36. ann says:

    so this comment is only just over 2 years late, but crazy how resilient the subject matter is, eh? Truly inspiring…and inspiration in this area is much needed at present! Thank you!

  37. Clearly, the comments on this post are going to keep on going! I am a freelance copy editor, and I think the same message applies to me and others like me. I see people offering to edit for insanely small fees, and it makes me sad for them (and wonder about the quality of the work). I hope we all continue to have confidence in the value of what we do!

  38. […] article of hers that is important for freelancers to read is On Writing for Peanuts. This post points out the mistakes many new writers make by feeling they need to get a paying job […]

  39. K'Lee Banks says:

    A writer friend posted a link to this blog post in our private writer’s group. Great post! I thought it was current and was surprised – as another poster commented – that it was from 2009, and yet is still relevant in 2012, perhaps even more so! I plan to promote this blog post elsewhere! Thanks again for reminding writers that we should have more respect for ourselves and what we do, and get paid what we are worth!
    ~~K’Lee

  40. Lisa Beyer says:

    I have had interesting discussions about this with employers who want to pay peanuts for my hard work. I’d rather spend that time petting my cats, reading a book, even watching television. It’s not worth it when you can make $1 a word or more. I feel sorry for anyone who is talented who sells themselves short for a few clips.

  41. Stefania.C says:

    Hey Linda! Loved everything about it! Very detailed and learnt a lot! Thanks! :D

  42. Steve Schellert says:

    Linda

    You definitely don’t get paid for all the time you put in writing an article in the beginning. What you hope to develop is a following so each time you write something new, you immediately have an audience.

    If your article produces income, it is much easier to get a purchase from an existing customer than a new one.

    As your following grows and you develop a marketing list, all you need to do is send an emailing out and a percentage of customers will make a purchase of your new material.

    Getting to the point where you have over 100,000 followers takes time but you will never imagine how valuable that customer base is in addition to have new followers find you via the internet.

    There are times I would write for free just to improve numbers following plus also with the hope to obtaining a back link to my personal web page.

    There is a market for great content and tools.

    Best Regards,

    Steve Schellert

  43. […] On Writing For Peanuts […]

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