The Struggling Writer

The chronicles of a freelance writer as he tries to make a living.

Monday, November 27, 2006

A Hard Decision

One of the hardest aspects of being a freelancer is knowing when to walk away from the work. This is particularly true when you haven't got any backup.

After a month at LoveToKnow, I've decided to leave. When I first looked into them I was put off by the pay ($15 for a 650-word article), but Deborah Ng talked them up in her blog so I decided to give them a try. They seem like a good crowd and Betsy Gallup was a great editor. I learned a lot from her and that was one reason I wanted to stay.

But it's $15/article.

I have a mortgage to pay. I knew that the secret to success in that arena was learning to pop the articles out quickly enough to earn a reasonable amount per hour. I managed to get my time down to an hour and a half per article. That's $10/hour which is too low to pay my bills, and yet my quality was really starting to suffer. It was the worst of both worlds.

After agonizing about it over the weekend, I walked away today. I let Betsy know I'd finish out my articles for the month but then I'm done. It was steady work, but if all I want is steady I can go flip burgers.

I want to pursue other article opportunities, probably in the print media rather than the web. I want to follow up on that grant writing opportunity. I talked with my cousin over the weekend who writes grants and she says NIH grants are a real specialty and some writers do nothing but. I should also push the technical writing more. I need to revise the front page of my website because it's, well, crap. I tried too hard to do the marketing thing and it sounds just awful.

I've probably said this before, but it bears repeating: a freelancer who forgets about career development is dead. It is important in any job, but absolutely critical for the self-employed. It is too easy to get stuck in a safe job and never make what you are worth. I know this was the right decision, but it's still a tough step to take.

9 Comments:

  • At 2:11 PM, Anonymous copywriter underground said…

    Good luck! You'd have to write articles about as fast as you could type them to make a living at $15 an article.

    If you have some editorial experience, don't overlook the customer case study market.

    It's not a hard pitch to many businesses (most of whom know they should be writing those stories, but don't), and it pays better than similar editorial work.

    Good luck!

     
  • At 7:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Thank you for this! I just left the safety of my job a few weeks ago to pursue writing. Although the pay was good, it wasn't worth sacrificing my dream of writing. Thanks for your thoughts!

     
  • At 10:00 PM, Blogger KIWIWRITER said…

    thanks for sharing your experiences with LTK. I had been considering it but wondered whether the money would equal the time. Obviously not. good luck with any new endeavors.

     
  • At 5:49 AM, Blogger Deborah Ng said…

    I wish you luck and am sorry it didn't work out for you. Clearly if it takes one day to write a $15 word articke, it's not the write opportunity.

    LoveToKnow has been a great and lucrative opportunity for me. While it didn't work out for you, I wouldn't discourage others from checking out the opportunities available at LTK.

     
  • At 12:18 PM, Blogger Andy said…

    Deb, I'm not trying to discourage anyone. This blog is about my decisions as a writer and the reasoning behind them, right or wrong. I can't pay my mortgage at $10/hour and I can't manage to get the articles out faster than that.

    During my short time with LTK, I always felt that I was missing something, some benefit to working there that I was ignoring. It's a good crowd there and you all obviously enjoy it and I genuinely wish you all luck.

     
  • At 12:22 PM, Blogger Brian Westover said…

    "If all I want is steady I can go flip burgers."
    Amen!

     
  • At 5:56 PM, Blogger Deborah Ng said…

    Oh I didn't mean you were being discouraging, but I didn't want others to get discouraged by your experience, either. My experience with LTK has been extremely positive.

    I understand, you do what you have to do! For what it's worth, I stepped down from a very cushy gig as GE for LTK, because I wasn't as interested in the administrative tasks as I am the writing. Now I have all the writing work there I want.

    Good luck to you!

    Deb

     
  • At 2:31 AM, Blogger Pedro said…

    This comment has been removed by the author.

     
  • At 2:32 AM, Blogger Pedro said…

    can you do salespage? if yes, please contact me through email.

     

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