Every time you read an article about working as a freelance writer it is filled with hyperbole about how it is the greatest way to live, complete freedom, and amazing opportunities. You don’t always hear about the continual struggle of getting clients to pay you on time or sometimes at all. This one particular problem has made working as a freelancer, for me, stressful and exhausting.
I have built up a respectable client roster; writing for some big name brands and my retention rate is also up there. However, I am still struggling every month, even though my future balance sheets may look encouraging it takes so long to get paid that I can never have a relaxing month. I just keep running through figures, if this person doesn’t pay in the next two weeks then how do I make rent? It gets to the point where there is pressure to cut prices just to ensure that I win those last minute clients.
My issue comes with companies demanding lower and lower prices for quality content and then taking up to 3 months to pay these paltry sums. I can never seem to get ahead of myself financially, meaning that I can’t purchase new business cards or even plan for paid networking events because who knows if that cash will come through in time for rent or license renewal. There are actually companies out there who tell you to your face that you should be grateful to be doing work for them, it will add to your portfolio, and negotiate on the price even after you have agreed and submitted the work. These are the people taking complete advantage of a situation.
I had a conversation with a gentleman from a renowned global networking organisation (sure you know which one…) who asked me how much I charge for writing 800-1000 word blogs. Now I write well-researched completely original content, so although I probably don’t charge what I should, I think the fee is completely fair. He offered me $8 a blog…when I told him my prices he said he could have someone in another country write them cheaper. I cannot believe that anyone who charges that little a sum doesn’t just go onto Google copy and paste and change content to hide the plagiarism. And this is the state of the industry, no one wants to pay a reasonable price and then they want to pay late.
I recently had a conversation with a web developer who was discussing the fact that he hires freelance writers, initially I was happy to hear this. But then had a think, it seems that the developers and agents are the ones who take the longest to come through with the pitches, promise huge jobs then leave you hanging for months, and then can’t pay until their clients pays, leaving the writers at the end of the chain. This is a great way for them to save money on a role that is integral to their industry.
I am annoyed! I look at my client list and it keeps growing but my bank balance doesn’t seem to look any better. As the prices in the city keep increasing there seems to be a source of pride that someone has hired a writer for a tiny sum of money. Maybe I am not perfect, maybe I am missing something, but I when I talk to people they have the same experience. When you look at conversation boards on Facebook there are people actually offering to pay $3 for an article, and whilst it may sound funny/ridiculous, it slightly terrifies me. How on earth are you supposed to make a living here?