The Struggling Writer

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

Friday, June 01, 2007

When good (or mediocre) writers go bad

Recently there's been a bit of a kerfluffle over some writers who are sabotaging online ads in an effort to minimize the competition. Other writers have been getting angry at this, which is certainly understandable, but this practice doesn't bother me. I don't even feel a little irritation. Pity maybe, but not irritation.

Why? Well, I have two reasons.

First of all, these sabotaging writers aren't real competition. People who resort to these kinds of tactics do so because they can't compete on a level playing field. I'm a lot more threatened by talented writers who act professionally and are good at marketing themselves (you bunch of bastiges). The saboteurs, I suspect, are the types who play at freelancing for six months, then go away mad complaining that a) it's all luck, b) it's all a secret society, c) it's all the outsourcing to India, or d) it's all a government conspiracy.

I firmly believe that anyone can make a living, and a very good living, as a freelance writer if they take the right steps. That includes becoming a better writer (even if you've been at this 20 years you can still improve), aggressive marketing (every writer's least favorite part of the job), treating clients with respect (if these people backstab other writers, how do you think they are going to treat their clients?), and generally behaving like a grownup.

The second reason I'm not bothered by this is that online ads, while a nice source of occasional income, shouldn't be your only source of projects. It's just like hunting for a real job. If all you do is open the paper every morning and circle a couple of classified ads, you are going to be out of work for a long time. Active marketing is a key part to long-term success.

Am I good at active marketing? Heck no. Am I getting better? Slowly. I'm not one who likes to talk about myself, but I'm getting better at dropping into casual conversation that I'm a freelance writer. Two of the most lucrative projects I have on the horizon came from having people say, "Really? Well I need some writing done. Let's talk."

I honestly do feel sorry for these people because they are missing the point. They will end up as corporate cogs someday because they blew their freelance opportunity. I want other people to succeed at writing, that's the real reason behind this blog. If my silly mistakes and limited experience can help someone step out of the crowd of writing hobbyists into the realm of writing professionals, that's great! There is plenty of work out there for all of us and we are all stronger writers when we help each other.


  • At 4:56 PM, Blogger Jennifer said…

    Good post on what's been going on lately around the web. I was angry about the whole fake flag issue, but much more in a "why do people suck" way than an "oh no" way. I agree that many of these 'writers' focus on job boards and forget about self marketing and the good old fashioned query letter. That's what gets me -- there's how many magazines out there, and the fake flaggers and some other supposed writers whine about the lack of work. Why not just send out queries to one of the bazillion publications out there; why not send out 100?

    Very observant post...I'm doing a link up today..And since I just keep coming here I'm gonna have to link ya. If you're not cool with that just let me know. I always like to let people know when I link them.

  • At 3:00 PM, Blogger Andy said…

    Feel free to link. I'm happy for the extra traffic. It might give me the incentive to update more often.

  • At 4:00 PM, Blogger Virginia Lee said…

    Wait. People can make money doing online ads? And they sabotage others trying to do the same?


    People are so micro at times. If they could view things with more of a macro vision maybe they'd see that the internet is worldwide (hello!) and as more people get wired more ads will need to be written.


    They're really sabotaging folks? Lordy. I'll just keep on with my creative work and starving, thanks.

    Fascinating stuff, Andy. I'm glad I read today.

  • At 6:58 PM, Blogger Andy said…

    Virginia, it's not that people are making money doing online ads. These are ads for writing projects. People put out bids, then sabotage the ad so no one else can look at it, reducing the field of applicants.

    Other than that, what you said is right. People get so narrow in their vision, they miss the big picture then wonder why they fail.

  • At 10:42 PM, Anonymous CreditThinker said…

    I always have an opinion that people who are born to create should just produce their masterpieces and enjoy their work. When such people think about competition may be they are not sure in their ability to create something unique and win peole's hearts.


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