What’s on the iPod: Texas Flood by Stevie Ray Vaughan
TGIF in a big way. I’ve spent a somewhat frustrating week trying to clear up a rather large outstanding invoice. The project is on hold, the money is nowhere to be seen, my emails haven’t been answered, and this writer is getting pissed. I get that we’re busy sometimes, but two notes later and no response regarding the absent money? That smells like a game of dodge to me, and I’m not playing. Worse, it’s a client I’ve worked with regularly. Time to get on the phone.
The good news is I started working with a new client this week, and I’m handling two fun projects. While the money won’t be there right away, I’ve little doubt they’ll pay.
Last month we had plenty of contributions for Writers Worth Month. So many, in fact, that today I’m featuring one more. When Tracy Spangler signed up for my e-newsletter, we struck up a conversation (if you sign up, you don’t get automated — you get me). I invited Tracy to guest post if she wanted.
She wanted. And her story is a great lesson in how to persevere while facing down whatever obstacles are getting in the way. Tracy is working while shoveling a ton of personal stuff at the same time. Yet she keeps going. I’ve no doubt she’ll go far in freelancing — she has pluck.
Thank you, Tracy. I know your story will inspire others. It’s inspired me, too.
only been the last two years that I’ve moved on from the many journals
hidden-in-the-closest containing my worst fears and worry writing to freelance
many years of mystery shopping for nearly 40 different companies combined with
my abhorrence of misspelled words and incorrect grammar qualified me to become
an editor of other mystery shopper’s reports. I enjoyed this work immensely.
However once my health worsened, and I began what has been three long years of
multiple failed surgeries, nerve blocks and Botox injections, I was given the
option of taking a hiatus from editing until I could keep up with the 25 hours
a week minimum work from home requirement. I appreciated the vague offer that I
could return to work at some point in the future, but after a change in
management I no longer wanted to continue with this company.
new work was Odesk, now Upwork. I was completely naïve and rather desperate to
find any freelance editing or writing work—in other words, I was the perfect
target. Not all of my experience with Odesk was negative. I have one client who
hired me after I sent her my proposal, and I’m delighted to have ongoing
editing and writing to do for her website. I wrote a few Amazon reviews after
receiving free products, and worked for nearly a year helping a woman sell furniture
through her eBay store.
as a writer and editor –were worth more than the pay I was receiving, occurred
when three incidents happened on the same day. I had applied for 11 different
writing jobs that I was overqualified for, but did not receive, due to raising
my rate from the prior $2 an hour to $5 an hour. I figured I was still asking
well below minimum wage, so even with the lowest-bid-gets-the-job atmosphere on
Odesk, I was not asking too much.
a sample article of 200 words, which I quickly wrote and sent to them. Their
response an hour later was, “While it seems you have halfway decent writing
skills, you made two grammatical errors, so our offer is 5 cents per 1000
words to make one cent! Additionally the grammar errors that were pointed out
were actually two names of apartment complexes, with unique, purposeful
misspellings. That was the first slap in the face.
discovered two thin, large envelopes. The outside of each had a paper attached,
underneath a sealed plastic cover. The outside of the paper read, “READ THIS
LETTER BEFORE OPENING THIS PARCEL.”
from once in awhile had gone rogue, and were now shipping illegal herbs instead
of chamomile. When I opened the letter I saw that the U.S. Postal Inspection
Service was warning that envelopes like I had received were often scams,
related to work at home jobs. They outlined the all-too-common scheme of
receiving a too-good-to-be-true check or money order, with instructions to
deposit a portion of the money in your bank and wire the rest to someone else.
first and second mystery shopping assignment. (Big red flag, since I’m signed
up with every legitimate mystery shopping company in the country!) I was
instructed to put $200 from each check into my bank account, and wire the rest
to four names provided on the letter. Of course I’ve heard about this scam
often, as I believe everyone has, until I read of some poor soul who thought
their dreams had come true and follow the instructions, only to have their bank
account drained by the following day.
freelance writing there wasn’t more than $5 in my account most days. It was
rather sobering though, to be holding two checks for $2,780.99, and have the
sinking realization that if I continued accepting less than pennies for words
on Odesk I was never going to make enough to make the time it took to write
worthwhile. At that point I could make more selling books on eBay, or clothes
my kids have grown out of to a resell store.
at least minimum wage for freelance writing. I found many sites saying
freelance writers should never accept less than $35, $50 or $100 an article. I
couldn’t imagine ever getting paid that much. I did find other companies that
needed freelance writers, and eventually found some excellent sites explaining
the content mills, like Odesk, and how to earn more than their ludicrously low
pay, doing the same writing, but for companies that pay a fair price. I felt
foolish for having toiled so long at Odesk, receiving so many refusals, simply
by asking for a measly $5 an hour.
for the one solid client I found on Odesk. I rewrote several how-to type
articles, and switched sentences and words around so that each of the 16
articles read better, was more engaging, and captured the tone of the site and
my client. Afterwards I mentioned my concern that I had not heard from my
client for over a month, and I was beginning to worry that she too, was too
good to be true. I voiced concern that I had spent two weeks writing, rewriting
and editing articles I’d never see any money for. My husband responded,” Well,
you have been slopping through your writing lately. Your writing isn’t that
great. You probably won’t be paid.”
I’ll be the first to admit I have little confidence and less self-worth. I’m
nice and I enable, especially to those that don’t deserve it – my first
physically abusive partner, my first husband and my current husband. As I child
I learned to be polite, agreeable, accommodating and always kind. I also
learned money buys love. This has been the recipe for poverty and a great deal
of suffering in my life. My low self-esteem, putting other’s needs before my
own, buying their love (even if it meant using my student loan to buy my first
husband an old 1952 Mercury, which I wasn’t allowed to drive) and supporting my
current husband with disability and my freelance writing have been what I do,
in every single relationship.
I held checks in my hands that I knew I would never actually be able to earn
realistically at the rate I was being paid. I knew I needed to be able to make
more to care for my children. I was insulted that my writing was worth so
little. I’m not the best writer in the world. That’s okay. I am a skilled
writer. How do I know? I practice, every day. I write, I take online courses on
how to improve my writing, I read and then I write some more.
Still, these three events were the reasons I finally opened my eyes to reality.
I do deserve to be paid more for my freelance writing. I love to write! Even if
I am typing up a answer to a inquiry on how to remove ticks from your dog, or
ten ideas for date-night, I give 100%.
accept jobs that pay a fair amount. I don’t expect to be rich, and I don’t know
that I’ll see $100 for one article anytime soon, but $10, $25, occasionally
$40? Yes. Also, no one is allowed to insult my writing, especially if it is my
words painstakingly typed into the computer that put dinner on the table and a
roof over their head.
My a-ha moment was recent, just a couple weeks ago, but now I know, without any
doubt that I can succeed, despite over two decades of time given to ungrateful
partners, and feeling lousy about myself. If can write when my legs spasm in
pain and it feels like an invisible hand is relentlessly stabbing my right ear,
over and over, each minute for the last three years, that anyone can. Don’t
give up, and please don’t waste your talent on content mills or to support
people who don’t love you and your writing!