#1 Way to Make Sure You Don’t Make a Living Writing

Did that headline surprise you? You might think I’d write a post on “#1 way to make sure you make a good living.”

But I’m seeing so many freelancers out there making grave mistakes that are costing them a chance to make good money that I am unable to contain myself. I need to say something. And that something is: stop selling yourself short.

There’s been a lot of chat on my LinkedIn¬†Editors and Writers Group about writing for the content mills — Demand Studios, Helium, Associated Content, etc. Some very experienced writers were saying that things are slow now so they’ve taken to writing for these sites, which generally pay $15 an article.

And this, people, is the top way to make sure you don’t make a good living — spend hours and hours of your time writing extremely low-paying content. It doesn’t have to be for a content mill site — could be for a chop house that sets you up with some law firm’s Web site or whatever. But the pay is under $20 an article.

Let me count the ways this destroys your money earning chances:

1) It lets prospective clients know that you’re willing to work for $15 an article.

2) It sucks up precious time you should be spending prospecting for good-paying work.

3) It demoralizes you and makes you feel bad about yourself and your writing abilities.

4) It teaches you to write junk you toss together in a half-hour, instead of helping hone your writing chops.

A lot of new writers are lured to these sites because pretty much everyone is accepted — there’s no rejection. These sites are great for professionals in other fields who want to promote their services or their ebook or whatever. But they’re a terrible sinkhole for writers.

An hour spent prospecting could get you a client that pays $500 an article, or a copywriting client that pays $85 an hour. Just one assignment from them would make up for hours and hours of writing for the content mills.

The question to ask yourself is, do you enjoy working 120-hour weeks? Or would you prefer a 30 hour week. I personally work a 30-hour week, maybe 35 tops, and make a full-time living. I do that buy taking work that pays well. Because you only have so many hours, that’s the only way to make freelance writing have a good quality of life.

So remember, you’re worth it! And keep looking for clients who value your expertise.