When will I be good enough to turn writing work down?


Apparently, I already am.

Look, I’ll be the first to tell you that I’m still figuring out this writing career. I’ve recently found some old journals and read where I wrote years ago that “I’m a writer, so just write.” I should have read them earlier because I sort of got lost along the way.

While I’m having some moderate success, I’ve not published a best-seller and I’m not (yet) replacing the income from my day job (How long, Oh Lord?).

So you might think that when I receive an offer for a writing job, I’d jump on it. Right? There’s no way I could (or should) turn it down. Right?

Well, not exactly.

Part of what I know I have to do to figure all of this out is to market and strategize. And, I have to figure out what I need to make at an hourly rate to do this full time (plus benefits).

If you’re trying to do the same, the basic formula goes like this:

Take your (current) annual salary and divide it by 200 days (give yourself some weekends). That’s your daily rate.

Divide that by how many hours you plan to work each day. That gives you an hourly rate.*

Trust me when I tell you this. I’m not cheap.

But, I’m worth it.

Not everyone that I currently write for is paying me that rate. I have a long-term client that has given me consistent work since I started trying to this for real. They can’t match my desired hourly rate.

But, I choose to continue writing for them because they’ve been very loyal and supportive of me, and I know that they’ll have something for me every month.

I did recently tell them that a project was taking too much of my time. It was a technical piece that, quite honestly, made my brain hurt. I eventually got the work done, but I put far too many hours into the work with not enough return. So I told them I could no longer write for that particular company. They were okay with that.

I turned down another, quite lucrative, offer this weekend. Here’s how that happened.

I don’t follow many ads on Craigslist. Most are content mills or promising that you’ll make millions from blogging if you just buy their program. Or my personal favorite, “We can’t pay you but you can get great exposure.”

I have an inner child that wants to say “Here, let me expose something to you.”

But, I don’t.

The one I just said no too offered the opportunity to write articles on a regular basis. And the pay was good. I was skeptical because there was no company or individual name attached to the ad. Still, that’s common with Craigslist, so I responded.

I received an email that said (in part):

We do not have a particular article topic so you can play with as much topics as possible depending on your level of creativity and experience.

I thought that seemed pretty open-ended and would allow me some flexibility. But, there was no signature or company name.

So, I asked for ’em.

I got this back:

The email started with a confirmation that they wanted to hire me, some vague information that told me nothing, and then:

If you have no problem at all with all the info you just read now, it means we are even and you are ready to work with us so we expect a confirmation email from you after which we will make your first payment available to you as a sign of good faith before you start working on the first article.

Ooohhh…an advance.

But. From. Who?

So, I asked.

And let me say by this point, I’d already given up on this “job” and just wanted to see how far I could get in terms of getting information. Not very.

I got this response:

We prefer to deal via email only for now please if this will be a problem don’t bother replying. We don’t have any website at all yet. We are just negotiating with a copywriter. We will send all info after you receive your pay as we don’t want to get it out there without a concrete agreement.

And the icing:

It is your business to know how many hours per week you will dedicate for this position, our business is for you to prove yourself by delivering a great article for the first project and the others of course.

To which my inner child wanted to respond “I’m not going to write for anyone who won’t give me his frickin’ name!”

But, I didn’t.

Instead I wrote:

I don’t mind communicating by email. I do mind communicating with an anonymous entity that will provide no identification with regard to the company, the individual or specifics regarding the project.

Best of luck finding someone who will work with you under those circumstances. I will not.

I omitted the “Bless your heart.”

And told my inner child to be quiet.

*Thanks to Kirsty Stuart, How to Build a Solid Reputation as a Freelance Writer…Without a Website for the formula.


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