I’m primarily using this blog as a means to write some humor-infused articles along collecting all my poetry onto one site, but I suppose writing something educational wouldn’t be such a bad thing, right?
There are a lot of job professions that begin as the well-known ‘starving-artist’ platform, and for good reason. Often times the jobs that are more creatively based are that much harder to build consistency around. While there is a lot of demand for particular fields such as: art, writing, photography, so forth and so on, it’s not about the demand, it’s about gradually building and getting a tone of ‘reliability’ and ‘skill’ around your name.
I’ve been a professional writer for about 3 years, unless you pick up a gig with a company where you are delivering something on a weekly basis, whether its ‘x’ amount of articles or ‘x’ amount of words, the profession becomes something that is a constant hustle. Some people like that kind of feeling, the constant drive of looking for bigger and better things, and if that is the case the following is what you need to understand to become a professional writer:
The most important factor from beginning to end when it comes to writing is the pricing scale. Pricing is complicated because ultimately: you can price your talents in any way that you wish, there are a defined set of risks with each side of the spectrum though.
Pricing too high
If you price too high the likelihood of bringing on a lot of clients is going to be slim. You work load will be less-consistent, but the jobs that you do will will have a great payout (assuming you can land the jobs). When you price a job in the world of writing there are options available where article payouts will range anywhere from $20-$200.
Pricing too low
This is something I personally have a problem with. Initially, at least when I started out, I took on some jobs for a very low pay rate. Low is $5 per 500 words. Granted, on a topic that you know fairly well you can probably burn out an article in about 20 minutes, it doesn’t change the fact that $5 seems like nothing, and thats because it is the truth, it is nothing. Extended it’s $20 an hour, but that is assuming that you get everything done right the first time around.
Build price with reputation and proven ability
When I started out the idea was that I was new to the entire market of writing. I charged very low prices as a means to gather clients, prove my ability, and develop a reputation. When you are trying to understand the profession of becoming a professional writer there is no set ‘right way’, it’s all building blocks. It’s taking an area of unfamiliar and making it work for you. It’s going to be something that varies for everyone.
Once you establish your capabilities then you can gradually increase your pricing. Normally you need to consider the amount of research involved with a given topic, images (whether they are being used or not), the writing style (several available), and finding which fit you best. Fair pricing is roughly $3-$4 per 100 words, but you can only charge that once you truly know what you are doing.
And again, that is still on the lower side of things. Once you become an ‘expert’ in a given area of topic then you can charge as much as $50-$100 per 500 words. If you are going to charge that though, then you need to have the right foundation to back up and explain it.
Where to find work
Personally, I began on Elance. Elance is viewed as something with a fairly negative aura about it, and to be honest I agree with the negative vibes it gets. The problem with Elance is the fact that you will have Abu and whoever else over in India willing to write 1000 words for $5. When you have possible clients that take this option over writers that are more familiar with the English language then it brings in an entirely separate area of competition.
I want to point out that I am not being racist here, I am pointing out that a ton of outsourcing comes from India and that region. It hurts english-based writers in the US because most clients are going to try and make a job work with someone that is willing to do ‘x’ amount of work for 10 bucks versus someone that wants a hundred. When you have that kind of discount available many of us in a client-based setting would try to make the cheaper option work. The fact from the writer’s point of view is that it makes it that much more difficult to land good jobs on Elance. Sure, they are available, but it is all about finding the right clients.
Elance promotes an ‘outsourcing’ option in the writing world, and we have seen outsourcing and what it has done to our economy/ quality of service/products over the course of time. It’s bad news. Outsourcing is an entirely separate subject, so I am giong to put that to an end now.
Elance is a place where you CAN find some good gigs, but they are more rare. It is a good place to establish some credibility in the writing world, and if you have none, it is a place that allows you to gather some kind of a reputation. I’ve made enough on Elance where I was covering rent and paying bills, but the fact is there was so much time being put into it because of the fact the work is cheaper.
Elance is great for a place to start, a place to create a reputation and reliability. Outside of that I recommend the following:
The 3 main areas I would look for writing jobs at this point are:
- freelancewritinggigs.com– This is a collaboration of craigslist postings that are writing-affiliated. I’ve found a few gigs on here that were really solid paying, and the companies were very reputable. The challenge here is to make sure that you understand any terms that you agree to before you begin working on a job assignment.
- Http://www.bloggingpro.com/jobs/– Blogging pro is one of the sites where you deal with top of the line opportunities, top paying, but the competition is what you would expect with such opportunities. You can reach out for 20 jobs and maybe hear back from 2. This is about patience and not allowing yourself to get discourages. Great opportunities are never simply handed out, they take time to acquire.
- Http://jobs.problogger.net/– This is very similar to blogging pro when it comes to high-paying and great opportunities. There are a lot of great choices here, but it all comes down to patience. Take the time to look over it and make sure what you apply for falls under options that you can personally handle.
Passion is everything
In the professional writing field there is so much importance around the idea of being passionate about what you write about. If you take on job assignments where the content is something that you initially hate, the chances of it bleeding through into the content and showing is very likely. It would be like be taking the topic of ballerina dancing and trying to write optimistically about it, it simple couldn’t happen. Same thing with cars, I can do car articles, but only because I know about them. Have e write about poetry, horror movies, something like that and it becomes that much more real. The more ‘real’ emotion you can tag to your writing, the more the reader will love what you are delivering.
Writing is a career that doesn’t happen overnight, it is constant building. Don’t jump into it expecting to make $100,000 a year, it simply doesn’t happen that way. As much as many of us would love to become award winning novelists in 6 weeks, it simply isn’t realistic.
Take the time to be patient and gradually build your contacts and your reputation, and when the time comes, deliver your very best.
If you have any questions feel free to ask, if you would like to add something and are a professional writer, please feel free. This is just a start and brief look at writing professionally. There is a lot to cover on the subject that I intend to address later in time.