17 comments on “Rubbing Salt in a Writer’s Wounds

  1. Interesting question you pose. I think there is space for earning experience & “free” or as I like to say “discounted” work.
    When you make connection those are the value able experiences however standing firm with your rate and discount for first line work is appropriate to show the individual/company you value them and this is what it would have cost. This sets a president for future work – if there is no furture opportunity, pass it and politely decline. I completely agree.
    The artistic & creative industry is hard to compare to others the services rendered in comparison are opinion based. For example I may think I have a fantastic written piece, but those I submit too could disagree. Whereas fixing a flat tire is self evident, it either holds air and is fixed or not. Interesting paradigm for sure, I agree never sell yourself short it’s your profession after all.

    • Absolutely, the lines so often blur because everything in the creative industry is subject to personal opinion. Like you say, you have to set a precedent; if you work for free for a client for a considerable length of time, they will come to expect this of you and only feel cheated and uncooperative when you begin requesting a fee. When there are so many people looking to break into the industry it can be really daunting knowing where to pitch yourself and your prices; it’s a minefield out there and there’s always something new to learn. A path that works for one person may not for someone else but we can all share our experiences and help each other out 🙂

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts, it’s much appreciated! 🙂

      • Good grief my errors above! Shoot me as I blame tiny iPhone keyboard & multitasking of day job.
        We all have a hard time monetizing our work, the key is not to jumble it with worth.

        • Don’t worry, we’ve all been there! 😉 I absolutely agree; so long as we don’t belittle ourselves and what we are worth as professionals, the industry can be blown wide open with possibilities 🙂

  2. I am looking to do some freelance work, but for some reason I am not getting hired. This is hard for me. However, I did take on an internship for free to get more experience. It is just for 3 months. So, we shall see. How did you get started into freelancing?

    • It can be really tricky getting that first job but an internship is a brilliant idea. It may not be paid but you get direct experience and can use the time to build contacts for the future.

      I did a sort of informal internship with a local magazine simply by approaching and asking. My links with them got me onto a two-day intensive video journalism course and then with this experience I simply began advertising myself for freelance work online. Once I bagged a couple of paying clients (one of which I still write for regularly now) I just kept going.

      It’s a broad and often daunting business. What works for some won’t for others but I wish you all the best in getting your break in freelancing. Thank you for sharing your thoughts 🙂

  3. I can understand the need for experience, but it’s a horrible truth that most of these clients are just looking for some free work. That is the unfortunate part of it.

    To get anywhere in a career you love you have to make sacrifices, and sometimes doing work for little pay is one of those things. But I don’t think it’s at all right that these people expect to pay nothing for what you do. That is just wrong and should never be accepted. Everyone deserves respect in the field they try for, and saying things such as ‘the experience will great’ just doesn’t cut it.

    Your work is always worth something, and it’s good you decline those people who offer nothing.

    Great post!

    • You’re right; it’s a real shame that so many businesses mask their plan to exploit people with false pretences about it being through a desire to help them gain experience. The saddest part is that many people will be naive enough to fall for it and have their value diminished.

      Gaining experience is great and sacrifices are, as you said, totally necessary but there is a line of mutual respect for workers that needs to be upheld. A formal employee would never be asked to work for free, it irks me that a freelancer so often is.

      Thanks for reading and commenting 🙂

  4. I do freelance work. I have never, ever worked for free (save for charity work, which was my donation to their cause). People who want you to work for free are leeches and I won’t support them. I’ve been asked to do work for free, and I’ve declined. What I usually tell them is that, if they want something free, they must not care about their end product, because no professional is going to take that offer seriously. Now, I will be flexible, depending on what the want, for how much I charge. But any business that can’t afford to throw $60 at me for an hour of my time is one that isn’t going to succeed, and I don’t want my words tied to them anyway. And though I work a full-time job, I pull in enough from freelance work to help pay the bills and have a little free money.

    • Good on you. I wholeheartedly agree and couldn’t have said it any better myself.

      If someone doesn’t value their business/products enough to pay someone else, then frankly they’d be as well doing the work themselves. If they’re unwilling to do either, then I would seriously question their business ethics and commitment to their job.

      • And you know what? Call them on that! Just like we did here. Tell them “So, what you’re saying is that you don’t value your product enough to pay someone to write professionally about it? Are you giving this product away for free as well?” I have actually done this, and gotten paying work from it. Be tactful, of course, but remind them that a product that is worth buying has to be a product worth investing in, and that good writing is an investment.

        • Definitely. If writers don’t call company’s out when they try to do this, nothing will ever change. There’s a huge difference between a charity or a small start-up looking for a helping hand from a willing writer and an established business trying to exploit people. Ironically, it’s the latter we seem to encounter more often. Like you say, we simply have to stand up for ourselves and make it clear that things have gotten out of hand.

  5. I think most professions suffer without strict regulations in place, and unfortunately writing is one of those professions. In the interpreting profession, one I’ve been involved in for over ten years, work is rapidly decreasing and fees are being cut because of unqualified interpreters who are charging lower costs and taking up a lot of the work. Ultimately it’s the Deaf community who suffer because they end up with the cowboys, and those paying for the service don’t seem to care if they’re saving money.
    I can completely sympathise with what you’re going through, and hope that your regular clients grow in number, because they are the ones who can attest the quality of your work, and stop people taking advantage.

    • It’s a sad reality for many it seems and it sounds like the situation within the interpreting world is very similar.

      You raise an excellent point because the part that irks me most is the fact that it’s the end user that suffers most. People deserve quality content and employers can’t expect that if they show no respect to the writers/interpreters that produce it.

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

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