Wow, yesterday was a struggle just to sit myself down in front of this computer screen. I remembered I wanted to get a hair appointment, called, and was in her chair instead of this one until lunchtime. In the afternoon I worked on an article, then on more marketing. I tutor my Vietnamese student Tuesdays, so I had to put aside time to create some quizzes and exercises for her. She’s studying for her citizenship test, so at least we have a set goal to aim toward.
Today, much of the same. I’m working with a client currently in putting together a newsletter, so I have one call to make today, one tomorrow, and copy to hand in by Friday. I love deadlines. Keeps me from feeling stagnant.
Yesterday we talked about diversification. We also discussed former Demand Media writers and how they can build a solid career. However, as Devon wisely pointed out, there are plenty of DM writers who aren’t going to put the time or effort into a legitimate career. That begs the question: what’s considered legitimate? Try clips from reputable, edited sources that don’t allow for reworking of someone else’s copy. Try clients who hire you at your stated rate, not theirs. Try clients you’ve convinced to hire you, not ones you found on a job listings site (while there may be some golden clients there, most are fool’s gold, so to speak).
For plenty of former content farmers, there won’t be a second, more solid career. There will be more of the same – hunting down the next aggregator to pay a paltry fee for what they call writing. But the smart ones, the ones tired of mucking it out in the trenches, will decide to climb out and into more fruitful areas. It takes commitment in a few different ways:
Commitment to self. You have to want to do better. If you don’t, you’ll be the one on the sidelines bitching and moaning because 1) writers are looking down on you (in your head or in reality), 2) writers aren’t gift-wrapping your career for you and handing all their clients to you, 3) writers are saying you’re not motivated enough to build a good foundation, and 4) clients don’t want to hire you because of those lousy farm-made clips. Be the former, not the latter.
Commitment to quality. You have to desire quality writing over whatever pays the bills. We can all knock out low-paid articles based on nothing in particular. But we don’t. Why? Because we’ve decided what we present to clients will be our best work. As a result, we decide to choose better jobs.
Commitment to career. I’m not going to lie – a successful writing career takes work. You’re in charge of promoting yourself, inspiring yourself, challenging yourself, and teaching yourself. If you want to be successful, you’ll grab hold of the challenge.
Commitment to business. You’re more than an independent contractor; you’re a business owner. You’ll need to market, keep accounts, chase invoices, build work processes, network, partner, do the admin work, and handle all janitorial stuff (I’m not cleaning your desk for you).
Commitment to growth. You can stay at the $25-30K earnings level as long as you like, but you’ll find those clients will probably tend toward wanting bargains, expecting discounts, or watching the time clock so as not to overpay you. Instead, why not expect your business to grow and take steps to make it grow? Aim up the client food chain, raise your rates, negotiate with your own earnings needs in mind, and say no when it doesn’t fit or feel right.
Are you ready to make the commitment?
Writers, what was the toughest commitment you had to make? How did you do it?