Yo Ho, Yo Ho! A Writer’s Life for Me

When people ask me what I do for a living and I reply that I’m a writer, many seem to attach a romanticism to this profession that, quite frankly, does not exist. I suppose if one is a best-selling, renowned author, then s/he does, in fact, have an interesting (and likely profitable) existence. Not so much for a freelancer. Even with regular clients, work can be sporadic, and I am always looking for more gigs (hint, elbow, nudge, wink.) Like many other areas of life, freelancing can run the gamut from feast to famine.

I am on several freelancing sites, but so are millions of other writers. Competition with freelancers from other countries is particularly challenging because of cost-of-living discrepancies. Ergo, where someone overseas might be happy writing a 1,000-word blog post for $1.30, others (myself included) are not. Compounding the problem are the requests for native-English speakers, yet these potential clients continue to hire writers who are not, forsaking their own requirements in the hope that somehow, magically, they will be completely satisfied.

The old adage, “You get what you pay for” rings true here as well as other areas of life. Low-cost in practically anything is usually synonymous with low-quality, and such is applicable in this capacity. I have been hired by some clients to rewrite copy that someone they previously hired failed to do correctly, and, essentially, the client ends up paying more than if s/he exercised a bit more discretion in the first place.

I am sometimes asked why my rates are so high. In fact, they are not. They are quite competitive in the U.S. But I am also aware of my expertise, the quality of my work, and my insane work ethic, and I will not undervalue my worth. Not only does undervaluing oneself send a message to a potential quality client that one is not confident in his/her abilities and product, but it also damages one’s self-esteem. And I refuse to do that to myself.

So I persist and constantly seek out new clients (or relentlessly harass, er, ask current clients for additional work.)

Besides, I’ve become quite used to famine. I make a mean cabbage, onion, kale, and celery soup that is quite delish.

“It took me 40 years to write my first book. When I was a child, I was encouraged to go to school. I was not encouraged to follow the career of a writer because my parents thought that I was going to starve to death.” ~ Paulo Coelho

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