Are you a writing whore; do you give it away for free?

A foot in the door. Breaking in. Making a name for yourself. In layman’s terms, being a newcomer to freelance or professional writing. We’ve all been there (heck, some of us are still here!) and in those dark days when the burgeoning writer is desperate for profile infamy what might the writer be willing to do to gain it? Is it ever worth taking that insultingly low-paying job for mere kudos? Selling your God-given talent to gain a reputation? These are some of the questions new writers will be faced with when trying to break into ‘the business’.

Budget Blogging

Images sourced; Pixabay

Freelance writers trying to make a living from their writing must first establish themselves as reputable, trustworthy and a quality writer. The rub comes from the way in which a new writer establishes credibility; she must convince people to hire her when she has little to showcase but a limited portfolio of private work and her only real bargaining chip… she’s cheap.

So, to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with established writers who have a host of testimonials, gold stars or whatever rating system the freelance platform uses, the novice must dance the Moulin Rouge, bend over and take a reaming on price to close the deal. A new writer with the most exquisite grasp of grammar, language and prose must be prepared to swallow the insulting offers to gain that which is ultimately more important than cash in this over-subscribed industry; reputation.

Churning Out Dross

work-1627703_960_720

Image sourced; Pixabay

Kindle Direct Publishing and other online publishing avenues have laid out the proverbial yellow brick road to new writers. It would seem to the new writer that all she need do is click her heels together three times and publish a stream of short stories to build up both cash and a willing receptive audience.

But what is it that captivates the masses? That magnum opus the writer has been quietly tinkering with for years, in that undefined genre, heavy with metaphors and breath-taking in its complexity? The piece of art that the writer cares for more than her flesh and blood children? Or is it fast fiction; easily digestible, slightly erotic, casual reading? Novella erotica is easily one of the largest selling genres, and a nearly guaranteed way to make money and build a following for new writers who can swallow their bile and churn, churn, churn.

Ghostwriting

 

Images sourced; Pixabay

The always controversial topic of ghostwriting can befuddle the novice freelancer. Whilst freelance writing platforms abound with ghostwriting positions, it is the quintessential conundrum for new writers; write for cash but get no credit, thus satisfying the ultimate dream which is to be paid for writing, but at what cost? The very reputation, credit and extensive portfolio the writer hopes to achieve in order to score those paid jobs. Quite the dilemma.

Add to this the complexity of freelance platforms like Upwork that advertise ghostwriting positions in which the novice freelancer will indeed get paid but not the credit for the work… however she will get recommendations and a reputation on Upwork itself (assuming she does a good job of the writing piece) which might ultimately serve as reputation.

Complex? Just a bit!

Pro Bono Work

The novice freelance writer in a bid to get her name ‘out there’ might consider taking on freebie work for friends, family or local businesses. In an attempt to do her life’s best work to sell herself and make an impact (not to mention keeping demanding family and friends satisfied), the novice freelancer can be sucked into a vortex of time-consuming detail work, and risk a quick pro-bono job turning into something bigger than Charlton Heston, er, his alter ego.

Ben Hur

Personal Experience

So what is the answer?

Should the novice freelance writer heed these potential pitfalls, complexities and hazards of trying to break in, or should she jump at every opportunity to scrape and claw another notch on the ladder to The Dream?

I am still (what I consider to be) a novice freelance writer. My name doesn’t carry cache and I don’t have a reputation as a wunderkind. So I will freely admit to having dabbled (ok, still dabble) in one or two of the areas described above in order to build my profile, break in and keep my chequebook balanced!

So my parting advice to the novice freelance writer is this; learning can be extracted from all experiences and the more you get your name out there, the better it will be for your profile.

Remember the words of George Costanza;

“If there’s any doubt I do a leave-behind.”

Cos…. tanza!

 

*What dubious choices have you made or gruntwork jobs have you taken to increase your profile? Do you agree with these practice to increase the novice writer’s profile?  Let me know! 

3 thoughts on “Are you a writing whore; do you give it away for free?

  1. I keep getting invites to write for magazines; except they want you to publish new works on their site alone, they get the copyright credit, and they get paid for it through their ads. All the time spent on their pages would take away from building up my own site, but maybe, it would get my name out there more.
    It is quite the conundrum, all these entry level/intern options for a writer.
    Do you eat dirt for a while slowly trying to work your way up or wait for a lucky break?

    What’s your favorite book or piece of writing that you have put out there? I’m getting ready to purchase a couple of WordPress books, I would love to add another to my order.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes that’s unfortunately the very nature of breaking into freelance writing. The gigs that pay semi-decently are usually ghostwriting where you sacrifice all credit, but the gigs where you get to keep the credit and use your own byline pay rubbish. It’s a tough world! I’ve found a couple of good clients who I’m happy to write for and supplement my income with a small part time job in the real world. This compromise leaves me with enough cash and enough free time to focus on my true goal; writing for me!
      That said, I don’t actually have a book of my own published ☹️ I will by the end of the year but until then, if you’re looking for a fun read, try Dragon Hoard by Cathleen Townsend (resident WordPress writer). It’s a great read!

      Liked by 1 person

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