"Required reading" for today's smart writer.

"Required reading" for today's smart writer.
Information & inspiration to hone your craft and increase your cash...Since 2009

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Why it "Pays" to Keep an Open Mind About Low Paying Writing Gigs...

Forget what you've been told.
You know: the conventional wisdom that contends that taking on low paying writing jobs devalues you and brands you as desperate.
Not true. Not always.
As someone who has had more than my share, before paying my dues, I'm here to give you the 4-1-1.

There are many factors that should be considered in assessing whether or not a client or creative gig merits your time and talent.
Today we'll take a look at a few of them.


  • Is it a "passion project" or for a worthy cause?
  • Is it a start-up publication with limited funds?
  • Is it time consuming or laborious in nature?
  • How about the pay? Is it weekly? Monthly? By PayPal or based upon satisfying a certain "click rate" before compensation? 
  • Can you choose your own topics and titles?
  • Do you receive a byline for work and a generous Bio?
  • Is it a project that will give you a sense of pride or feeling of making a difference?
  • Does it require research?
Here's a case in point. Some time ago, I responded to a call for writers posted at a popular writers' job board. The position called for 2-3 articles per week, with weekly compensation via PayPal.
It sounded like fun, and to top it off, it was in my "specialty area."
So I threw my hat in the ring, and hoped for the best.

Fast forward...
I advanced in the screening, to the final candidates. At this point, there was "full disclosure."
In other words, the payrate was finally mentioned. I admit that I was a bit disappointed initially; it was considerably less than I was used to making at this stage of the game.
But, after some deliberation, I decided to take it.


  • The current work reflected on the company's site was top-notch.
  • It had a beautifully designed site with a Google Page Rank of 5.
  • Writers had their own individual "page" on the site, with a generous Bio and link to their respective sites.
  • The articles could be written on 6 different subject areas, with low word counts ranging between 400-600.
  • Pay was via PayPal weekly.
  • There were no "firm" deadlines imposed.
  • No images were required with submissions, nor was loading work into content management systems.
  • I could buy more chocolates.

The verdict is in.
It was a smart decision on my part. The "client" is easy to work with and interesting.
The position fits very nicely within the frame of other projects, (in that it doesn't take a lot of time).
And it adds to my bottom line and my portfolio.

Here's what I've also found to happen in the past, with these jobs.
Rates change.
That's right. Sometimes a low paying job can "pay off" later down the line.

  • The client recognizes your value to the project and adjusts your rate.
  • A start-up business begins to make a profit and is able to subsequently pay more.
  • Your prayers are answered. 

It's important to keep in mind too that "pay" is not always monetary; it can be in perks, or satisfaction, or important connections.

Word to the wise: before you pass over a low-paying gig, make sure you've looked over all the factors, to make an informed decision that suits your goals, lifestyle, financial needs, and creative path.
Only you can decide.

Your turn.
Thoughts? Agree or disagree?
What has your experience been in this area?


  1. I agree. I have written and contributed for exposure or because the topic was of importance. Years ago I set a New Year's goal: 12 publications in 12 months, 6 non-paying, and six paying gigs. I was amazed at how easy it was once I set my mind to it, and of course, the more I submitted, the more my work was accepted.

    1. Jennifer Brown BanksJuly 14, 2014 at 11:57 AM


      Thanks for the input, and for starting us off here.
      Many times writing can be a "numbers game." You seem to have some pretty good odds, based upon your publishing credits. :-)

  2. Good points. Especially the one about chocolates. You know a good thing when you see it! :)

  3. I appreciate hearing from you today; it's always a pleasure, quiet spirit.

  4. All great pointers, and for what clients recognizing value to a project is concerned, a Have Done-list, as I wrote about in a comment on your 'Distractions of Life' post, might come in handy.

    And besides asking what they think or aiming to convince clients of your value to a project, it's also possible to talk about other people you have in the 'Pipe Line' that you don't want to disappoint.

    1. You always leave me with something to think about. Thanks, H.P. :-)

  5. What an interesting post! I agree with you and think that you mentioned important things to consider when thinking about accepting a writing job. So glad for you that you took the job and it has been so worthwhile. :) Yeah!

    1. Jess,

      Thanks so much! I really am glad to hear from you on this. I appreciate your time and feedback.