Fifty Shades of Nay: Five Things Freelancers Should Be Wary of

No, it’s not a post about the smoldering popularity of erotic fiction in the suburban mainstream. It’s a piece about the things writers should be wary of, which, in all honesty, might include picking up a copy of Fifty Shades of Grey.

Writers aren’t big fans of criticism (goodbye publisher; isn’t this why the DIY eBook was invented in the first place?), but they do like advice, especially when it comes to jump starting their careers, making coin and forging a name for themselves in the world of content creation. There are numerous websites for freelance writers to cut their teeth in the industry, but before you’re ferried to an Underworld of misplaced ambitions, lost hopes and deferred dreams, you should have a checklist of things to look out for.

1. The client isn’t your friend. Positive comments and good feedback are like a shot of hubris for a writer. Suddenly you have a little more synth and swagger in your articles. You’re hitting the keyboard with flare, until…ding: Revision Request. That client who loved your last five articles hates the three that you just finished. Wrong tone. Wrong style. Forget about the audience. And you thought your writer/client relationship was tight; apparently not, considering the blistering critique. Oh, well, it’s a business, not a Saturday morning coffee klatch.

2. Speaking of revisions. How many is too many? If an article is worth $20, how long do you spend earning that $20. If you’re saddled with umpteen revisions, you could end up working far below minimum wage. The Underworld, indeed. “Abandon Hope All Ye Who Enter Here.”

3. A further note on revisions. Do remember those mathematical word problems you did as a kid. One of your friends is heading south for the holiday and the other is going north. If they are 478 miles apart and traveling at 60mph…etc etc… Revisions are similar. If you have a monetary quota to make each day but you’ve already spent three hours on revisions, how much money did you lose? Did the lost money put next month’s phone bill in jeopardy of getting paid? Will you even be able to afford gas to go away for the holiday?

4. When it comes to working for freelance websites, writers are always telling each other not to put all their eggs in one basket. This is good advice. However, the phrase is too Easter Bunny meets Little Red Riding Hood. How about something like: Don’t double down on a freelance site. One day there’s work, the next day there’s not. In other words, when it rains, it pours, and sometimes when it pours it washes those sites away in a Google/Panda/Penguin maelstrom.

5. If a gig is too good to be true, then it probably is. Clients have more tricks up their sleeve than Houdini, and they get creative when it comes to getting writers to work for less money. Don’t get grifted.

Damon H is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments.


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