The ever changing world of content marketing can be an exciting place to ply your trade as a freelance writer. It can also be frustrating, demoralizing, and sometimes feel like a waste of time, especially when many clients offer pennies on the paragraph.
For beginning writers, online content providers seem like a good place to start out. When I first began freelancing almost a decade ago, I spent a lot of time researching markets, pitching articles and writing on spec. I was lucky to get my work published and it was thrilling to see my name in print, but the learning curve as a new writer was pretty steep. By contrast, content provider sites are a decent place to get matched to clients and quickly pick up some basic writing skills. Can you write clean copy quickly under the pressure of a deadline? Can you research and appropriately cite sources? Working for a content provider can get your writing up to speed until your skills actually demand a higher rate. Consider lower paying jobs a sort of training ground, but don’t forget that your goal is to advance to the big leagues.
Getting Paid What You’re Worth
There are plenty of creative writers out there who don’t mind writing for free; they do it for the pure enjoyment of the work. But content writing just isn’t the same as poetry or playwriting, or even editorial writing for major magazines. The goal of our clients is to attract business and revenue based off of the engaging, high-quality content we provide. Giving away content for free communicates that our piece of this economic puzzle is irrelevant, even disposable, and this simply isn’t true.
Thanks to Google’s Panda algorithm update, more and more businesses rely on experienced, talented writers to rise above the “content farm” mentality that has quickly lost relevance in the last two years.
Take a hard look at your writing skills. Are you regularly producing quality, timely, SEO content? Are you professional and reliable? Do you implement revisions respectfully and work until the client is satisfied? If so, you deserve to be paid for your hard work! Align your skills with online content providers who provide access to clients who value skilled professionals, and leave the small time work to writers just starting to cut their teeth.
Content writing is a valuable asset of the current business world. Determine a rate based on your experience, speed, flexibility, and reliability, and work to stick to it, even when tempting low-pay work comes around. Keep several irons in the fire and practice pitching larger newspapers and magazines to net occasional big paydays to tide you through the leaner months.
Committing to life as a full- or part-time freelance writer means that you value writing. Accepting low pay for high quality work ultimately devalues this skill and ultimately hurts both skilled and newbie writers alike.
Caitlin C is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments.