First of all, I’d like to apologize for the lack of posts through the month of November. I had a rather large work-for-hire (ghostwriting) contract that I was fulfilling and I just wrapped it up on the 28th of the month. With that being said, there are some big plans ahead for December and into the new year, so stay tuned as Complete Writing Solutions moves full-steam ahead into the freelance writing and information market.
I stumbled across a post this morning over at the FWJ website regarding rates, one of the most talked-about and debated issues among freelance writers. In this particular thread, the topic regards a pair of writers who entered into a competition with each other. One of the writers worked for content sites. Another of the writers worked for a traditional trade publication (print publication). The bet was that the trade writer believed they would make significantly more than the content mill writer. At the end of the year, when the bet was called, the content writer made $52,000 in a year compared to the print writer’s $37,000.
Now, before I get into the whole rates thing, I’d like to point out something right off the bat. You, as an individual, are the only one in control of your success. There is no such thing as a reason for failure. The only person standing between you and success is you. Not the market. Not the rates. Not the competition. There is a literal world’s worth of clients to choose from these days. The vast majority of my clients are actually European and otherwise. If you are someone who is struggling to make money, you have no one to blame but yourself.
On to the meat of the matter. Any of you who have followed me for the past year or so on my old personal blog and in the couple of freelance community sites I’ve become a part of, you know that I have continually defended content sites, often suffering debasement at the hands of the so-called elite writers who work in the print publications. You will also know that I never complain about the amount of money I make, but you continually see those writers from other sites continually complaining about the rates of the current market, how it’s not fair that so and so is doing such and such and blah blah blah. Excuses. A long line of excuses as to why they aren’t making any money, and why the market is holding them back, and how content sites are hurting them, and etc.
The 21st century is about fast, disposable content when it comes to working for content sites. Writers who understand that are making a killing (raises hand wildly). That’s not to say we don’t write quality copy, or that we don’t spend any time on the articles, but let’s face it: the market wants fast, fluffy content. They aren’t interested in Pulitzer Prize content. Yes, there are those clients who do want superior content, and for those clients writers like myself will make a significantly higher wage which means we slow down, we research the topic at hand, and we craft the best article we possibly can. But the rest of the time we are going to do what we do best: make money. How do we make money? By giving the client what they want. And in the case of content sites that’s fast, disposable content to fill the pages of a website.
I’m going to use Demand Studios as an example. Keep in mind I do not represent DS in any way, shape, or form. In 2009 I only wrote roughly 40 articles for them, total.
15 dollars is the average pay for a 400-500 word article. If you have a niche (and everyone in the 21st century has a niche) then you can assume the topics you are writing about require little to no research. The average freelance writer can put out about 100 wpm, but assuming time for editing and arranging thoughts, let’s say that a 500 word article takes you 15-20 minutes to write. That means you can easily put out 4 articles in one hour in your chosen niche. That’s $60 an hour.
The average work week is 40 hours. That’s $2,400 a week. $9,600 in a month. Assuming a 2 week vacation, you would make around $110,000 for a year’s worth of work, working only for a content site.
No time spent looking for leads. No time spent marketing your brand. No time spent negotiating with clients. No time wasted while you query and wait to hear back from an editor about whether or not your article idea was approved so you can write it. No pitching, no waiting…just cold, hard cash. Log in, pull articles from your niche, write them, get your byline, and move on to the next.
Understandably not everyone has an unlimited pool of resources when it comes to niches. There will always be articles that you need to research. But honestly, even if you were only writing two articles per hour for Demand Studios that’s still $30 an hour, which comes out to around $55,000 for a year, assuming a two week vacation. Not too bad for a job that never requires you to leave your house, never requires you to pitch an article, never requires you to deal with clients face to face, never requires querying and waiting, and never requires anything other than the desire to write and get paid for writing.
Writing is a job, just like any other job. If you worked in a corporate environment you would be working 40 hour work weeks and you would be expected to perform to the highest level of your capabilities. Why should it be any different when you are working for yourself? Do you really want to succeed, or do you want to continually blame the market, or your peers, or the competition for why you are continually failing?
Just because you are a writer doesn’t mean you can suddenly throw all the business aspects of the real world out the window. While writing is easy, yes, it is still a business, and the only way businesses succeed is through hard work. This is not a get-rich-quick industry, but it is an extremely rewarding industry because you can set your own hours, determine your own rate of pay, and you get to see your name in print.
The problem with most of the print writers out there is they believe that they should be getting paid per word, and believe that a 400-500 word article should take 5 hours or more to craft, because “that’s the way it’s always been done.”
Stop living in the past. We aren’t in the 20th century where you had to go to a library, pull out some dusty old tomes, make phone calls and interview people, and hand-write the article. This is the 21st century. Google it. Within 2 seconds you will have literally dozens (if not hundreds or thousands) of references to choose from to research your article.
There are plenty of content sites out there, and while some of them are low paying, the vast majority of them pay well enough that you could easily be making over $50,000 a year. However, you have to have the desire to succeed.
The only person standing between you and success is you. I like making money. How about you?
(For the record I typed this article (normally I use Dragon Naturally Speaking). From start to finish it took me about 20 minutes, including a “rough” edit. It’s 1250+ words.)