Maybe I’m lucky because I don’t need to (touch wood). But it seems some people who want to be writers, copywriters, online content contributors may be taking jobs that pay these ridiculous rates.
There certainly seem to be people who think they can hire writers at these rates.
Who would take on these jobs? Someone who needs to get started, get some experience, build up a portfolio? But is this the way to do it? I don’t think so.
A lesson from Picasso
There’s a wonderful story about Picasso in the book Selling the Invisible: A Field Guide to Modern Marketing by Harry Beckwith.
In it, a woman is strolling down a street when she sees Picasso, and she asks him to sketch her. Picasso does so in a few minutes, and hands it to her:
“And what do I owe you?” she asked.
“Five thousands francs,” he answered.
“But it only took you three minutes,” she politely reminded him.
“No,” Picasso said. “It took me all my life.”
The lesson is that if you are providing expertise, clients should expect to pay for that.
To hammer the point home, Beckwith adds a story about a carpenter. In this tale, a man who has a squeaky floorboard calls in a carpenter, who quickly finds the problem and fixes it with three precise blows of his hammer.
The carpenter pulled out an invoice slip, on which he wrote the total of $45. Above that line were two line items:
Knowing where to hammer, $43.
Of course, none of us are Picasso. And until you have some experience and ideally a few qualifications to back them up, then you can’t really claim to be a craftsman carpenter either.
Be the publisher as well as the writer
But the days when you had to work for nothing, or close to nothing, in order to get experience as a writer and develop a portfolio are gone.
The Internet has changed all that. Instead of writing for a pittance for other people, write for yourself. Get your own blog, write your articles there. It becomes your portfolio.
If they won’t pay a realistic rate, walk away.
The whole publishing industry is being turned on it’s head because web publishing is so easy and accessible. Sure, there are steep learning curves, and I’m not claiming it’s easy to make money.
But you don’t have to be a billionaire newspaper baron to own a presence on the Internet. You don’t have to get a job, any job, that allows you to write. These days, if you want to be a writer, there’s nothing stopping you. You don’t need anyone’s permission. You just need your own site. Then you can set yourself up as the publisher as well as the writer.
if you do work for publishers or clients, have the confidence to charge them realistic amounts not just for your time, but also for your expertise. They are paying you for your experience, your knowledge, your abilities. If they won’t pay a realistic rate, walk away.
Artwork is Don Quixote by Pablo Picasso.