words by nerissa

…observations, thoughts and questions

Archive for the tag “Writing”

What would YOU like to be paid?

Tell me, if you were a freelance writer, what would you like to be paid for the following job?

(Note: this ad has been copied directly from the website, so any spelling or grammatical errors are that of the advertiser).

Hi all!

This is a bit of and odd one, but I’m hoping to reach someone out there who’s looking to earn a little extra side money as a ghost writer / article writer.

 To be more specific:

 – I will provide the topic, the sub headings and references for you

– You will then use that research and turn it into your own words

– I am looking for articles about 5 pages long (approx 2500 words)

And that’s pretty much it! 

I require your English to be top notch, so native English speakers would probably be more ideal. I would also like each article in about a week.

I mainly focus on health and wellness, so example articles would include detoxing, weight loss etc. But, as I said, I will provide all of the research so you don’t need to know anything about it!

I could outsource this work overseas for much cheaper, but thought I would look local first incase anyone would like to earn a little money from home.

Pay is $___ upon completion of a 2500ish word article.

Scope is there to do as many articles per week as you like

I hope this ad has reached someone looking for a little extra money, and if that’s you – I can’t wait to hear from you!

By the way, this ad is about 250 words.. so 2500 is not that many 🙂

Got a figure in mind? Good. I’ll tell you what you can expect a little later on.

In the meantime, know that this ad is typical of the many that I come across in my freelance writing profession.

Write to the Point CommunicationsOn the surface, working freelance may seem to be the dream job — and in many ways, it is. You can work the hours you choose. You can be flexible regarding which hours you work, meaning you can free yourself up to watch your kids’ sports day, or not be in a tailspin about childcare when your child is sick. You can also choose the kinds of clients and projects you would like to work with.

But that’s often where the dream ends.

As a freelancer, you are responsible for finding your own work. You don’t get paid sick leave, annual leave, carer’s leave or, superannuation. You can often find yourself trying to be everything — project manager, marketer, accountant, web guru and even office manager. (Someone has to take care of the coffee, right?)

However, perhaps the biggest challenge, is the misunderstanding from many, that freelancers (in particular, writers) don’t deserve to be paid what they are worth.

Sure, there are some people out there working as freelancers who really don’t deserve to be paid anything at all for the services they offer. Some ‘freelance writers’ I have come across don’t know the difference between ‘their’, ‘they’re’ and ‘there’. Nor do they even know how to proofread their own advertising!

However, there are many of us (myself included) who are brilliant at what we do, and as such, deserved to be paid an appropriate amount for services rendered.

That may sound conceited, but it’s not meant to be. It simply means I believe in what I do, just as I’m sure many other freelancers do too.

The freelance writer

While people freelance in many different capacities and industries, the path of the freelance writer is the one most vulnerable to exploitation. In particular, is the expectation that we will write for free, in exchange for ‘publicity’ or a token amount of money.

Why is that?

Not many of us expect doctors to provide their services for free. What about plumbers? Imagine the quality of work they would deliver if they knew they were not being paid for it. Do clothing shops offer us free clothing in exchange for us wearing them to promote their brand? Would you ask your mechanic to service your car for nothing, just to give him more experience or ‘exposure’? Of course not.

So why do people think it’s okay to ask (or expect) writers to write for free?

In short, it’s insulting.

Write to the Point CommunicationsWriters are professionals who have consciously decided that working with words is their craft, their niche, their career. Sure, there are many different kinds of writers out there, all with their different specialities. However, the one thing we have in common is that we are professionals, who have invested money and time into our careers.

For example, I am a writer who specialises in writing for the health and wellbeing market. This doesn’t mean that I can’t write other things, or edit or proofread. It just means that I have spent time and money honing my craft in that particular area.

My niche didn’t just ‘happen’. I studied at university for three years and gained my Bachelor of Arts, majoring in Journalism, Communication Studies and Australian Literature. I also hold qualifications in Magazine Writing, Editing and Publishing.

My working career has totaled 19 years. (I took five years off when my two children were born).

During those 19 years, I have worked in a variety of roles and industries, all of them using my writing skills. Prior to going freelance, I worked in a corporate wellness company as a health writer for several years. My work was published overseas and in Australia — both online and in print. I even wrote a great deal of copy for a leading Australian pharmacy. In fact, you’ve probably read some of it. All of that experience means I have developed the following skillset:

  • a knowledge of the health and wellness industry
  • a solid understanding of key health concerns facing the Australian population
  • an understanding of how to write for the health and wellness industry
  • an ability to take complex information and express it in a way that the average person can understand
  • highly developed research skills
  • a knowledge of where to source up-to-date and accurate health information
  • an ability to read scientific studies and interpret the information
  • an understanding of the publishing process
  • brilliant administrative, organisational and time-management skills
  • highly developed event management skills
  • highly developed verbal communication skills; strong negotiation skills
  • an ability to work to deadlines
  • an ability to work autonomously or as part of a team
  • desktop publishing and layout skills
  • highly developed computer skills
  • an ability to learn quickly.

The above list doesn’t even consider the skills I have in terms of spelling, grammar and sentence construction, etc. (i.e. ‘writing’).

Yet, I am still constantly asked and expected to write for free.

Although it isn’t phrased as bluntly as that. It’s more like this: “We would love you to write for us, as you have the exact skills we are looking for. However, we don’t have a budget to pay writers at present, but we would be happy to provide you with publicity, or links to your website in exchange for your writing.

Ummm. No. I don’t need publicity or links to my website.

I want to be paid. I deserve to be paid.

If I was employed with a company, I would be earning a pretty decent wage. I also wouldn’t have to provide my own computer, printer, paper, stationery, lighting or heating. I wouldn’t have to pay for my website or other costs of doing business. I wouldn’t have to spend my time looking for work, preparing quotes and invoices. And my employer would probably pay the fees for any professional organisations I belonged to.

I also wouldn’t have to justify why I am worth being paid.

Don't write for freeWriting for free

I have had a few people ask me why won’t I write for free.

Well, I have in the past. Yet, in every case it was carefully considered and each case had its own reasons. There are still circumstances in which I would write for free (or a reduced rate) — most notably for charitable institutions.

However, every time a writer agrees to write for free, they undermine their own worth, the worth of other writers and devalue the writing industry in general.

Once an editor/publisher receives an article for free, they expect the next person to provide it for nothing. If they have two people who can provide work, one who will do it for next to nothing, and one who wants to be paid what they are worth, who will they choose?

You guessed it — the person who writes for nothing.

Who loses? Well, obviously the writer expecting payment. But do you realise that you will lose out too?

You see, when it comes to writing, you really get what you pay for. If you pay poorly (or not at all), you get poor quality. When editors, publishers and everyone in between consider price before quality, you are going to get very badly written and/or incorrect information.

Anyone who once enjoyed reading satirical articles, amusing tales, in-depth analyses or informative pieces, will have to make do with poorly constructed sentences, misspelled words, and dull writing. Eventually, publications, websites and newspapers lose readers, which means less money to pay writers which means — yep, you guessed it — more trashy writing.

I bet you didn’t think about it like that, did you?

So back to our job ad.

Assume you have my experience, all my skills and know you can do a great job. This is also in your niche area of expertise which you have spent years learning.

Remember, you have to write to the brief, read the research attached, interpret the research and then ‘write it all in your own words’. 2,500 of them. That’s five pages — all correctly spelled, grammatically correct and easy to read. It could take you anywhere from 6-12 hours (remember, you haven’t even seen the brief yet).

What would you expect to be paid?

$1,500?

$1,000?

$500?

$250?

What if I told you, that if you agreed to the job advertised, you could expect to receive the grand total of $20.

Yes, that’s right. $20. Less than 1 cent per word. And if you’re lucky, you might even see that $20 after you submit the article. (Believe it or not, there have been instances where I haven’t received full payment for the work I have completed).

Would you write the article?

Imagine being asked to do that for no payment at all.

Would you be insulted? Feel angry? Feel bemused?

How would you feel, if your boss came to you and renegotiated your hourly rate to below $3 per hour? Would you bother working?

So if you ever need to engage the services of a freelancer (whether a writer, web designer, photographer, or consultant), ask yourself this question:

What would YOU like to be paid if you had to do that job?

Write to the Point CommunicationsNerissa Bentley is a Melbourne-based freelance writer at Write to the Point Communications. This blog is just one of the things she writes in her spare time.

She also specialises in writing for the health and well-being market. As well as writing thoroughly researched articles, she can provide assistance with press releases, copywriting, editing, proofreading and communication strategies.

So if you would like her to help you (and you are willing to pay her), contact her at writetothepoint@hotmail.com

 

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Do less and do it well

words by nerissa

Lots of sorting got done today

Once again, it’s school holiday time.

As someone who runs a business from home, this can be a tricky (and sometimes, frustrating) time. In the freelance writing game, it’s very often ‘feast or famine’ — either too much work or not enough. And for the first few years, it’s very tempting to say ‘yes’ to any work that comes your way, until you are well-established in your field.

As luck (or Murphy’s Law) would have it, my busiest times have usually been during school holidays. This has often meant a stressful holiday period, trying to balance meeting deadlines and holiday fun. It is further compounded by the fact that writing for a living isn’t as simple as sitting down for a few hours and ‘getting it done’. Writing often means needing to be in the ‘zone’ — feeling the inspiration and getting the words to flow freely, rather than trying to extricate them one by one. As a health writer, I also need time to research my topic.

As any writer would know, the zone isn’t something you can turn on and off. It’s either there or it’s not. Sure, there are things you can do to help you get in the zone, but with two noisy (and sometimes arguing) children in the background, getting there can be difficult. Even if you manage to find your way there, that magic place where the writing comes easy, can be shattered in an instant with the words “Mum, I’m hungry” or cries of “Stop it! Leave me alone!”

Really? You won’t believe it. Honestly, no sooner had I typed the words above, my eldest comes in and says “Mum, I’m hungry!”….so I’ll be right back……

(insert 37 minutes….)

Right — where was I? Oh that’s right, being interrupted!!

In the past, working during school holidays has meant early mornings, late nights and working across the weekends. By the time school term started up again, I was in need of a holiday myself. But of course, everything else that had been put on the back-burner while I was juggling work and school holiday activities was beckoning.

So these holidays, I decided to do something different. I didn’t take on any work.

words by nerissa

The art of cake decorating

Yes — I said ‘no’.

Instead, I am working intermittently while I can, on things that are not urgent. They are important, but not urgent. They also don’t require me to be ‘in the zone’ so much, which means that I can make the most of snippets of time that becomes available.

Tasks such as updating my website, planning out the remainder of my year, setting goals, learning new things that will have a positive impact upon my business, as well as building relationships with key people.

Quite frankly, it’s been great. I haven’t worked at night, or early in the morning. I spent last weekend attending a personal development workshop, visiting friends and sleeping in. This weekend we are spending time with more friends (celebrating the end of AFL season, to be honest!) and taking the kids to the Melbourne Show.

Instead of fitting school holidays (and the kids) around work, I’m fitting in my work around them. For the past three days, my son has been at a tennis clinic, and my daughter was occupied either watching a movie, playing with her barbies or at my parents’ house — so that’s when I worked.

This morning, the kids sorted out a plethora of books, pens, pencils and other ‘crafty’ activities that have been accumulating throughout the house, so I took myself off to the study to work. This afternoon’s activity was cup-cake making — something we all did doing together.

The great thing about my new approach is that I don’t feel guilt. No guilt about not spending time with the kids when I’m working, and no guilt about not working when I’m with the kids.

words by nerissa

What wonderful creativity

The other positive, is the quality of my work is a lot higher because I’m focusing more on what I want to get done, rather than how I’m going to fit it all in. There is also a lot less frustration, because writing deadlines do not exist for these two weeks. It’s an arrangement that seems to be working, and one that I will endeavour to employ in future school holidays.

It’s very easy to get caught up in the busyness of work and family life. It’s even more easy to be swamped by the juggle that is work and school holidays. One thing I have learnt however, is that sometimes we need to take something out of the picture in order to have more balance, more fun and less stress.

Sometimes we need to do less, so we can do it well.

And on that note, it’s time to enjoy those cupcakes!

Until next time. xx

cropped-twitterpic.jpgNerissa Bentley is a Melbourne-based freelance writer at Write to the Point Communications. This blog is just one of the things she writes in her spare time.

She also specialises in writing for the health and well-being market. As well as writing thoroughly researched articles, she can provide assistance with press releases, copywriting, editing, proofreading and communication strategies.

So if you would like her to help you, contact her at writetothepoint@hotmail.com

 

You don’t always need a plan

Have you heard the phrase If you fail to plan, you plan to failfly by the seat of your pants

Well, I’m here to tell you, you don’t always need a plan.

In fact, sometimes having a plan can hinder you.

Traditionally, November is “Novel Writing Month”. A group called “Grammarly”, (some of you may have seen them on Facebook), has orgnanised the largest group of authors to collaborate on a single novel.

More than 750 people from around the world have signed up to participate. And I am one of them.

The way it works is as follows: There are 30 chapters with around 25-26 authors being assigned a chapter. Throughout the month of November, one person is assigned to contribute up to 800 words to a chapter each day (30 writers per day), which means the entire novel is written simultaneously.

Yes, simultaneously. So Chapter 1 and Chapter 30 are all being written at the same time.

How does that work?

In truth, I have no idea.

All I know is that I was assigned to write up to 800 words in chapter 10.

Yes, we are given a plot and chapter summaries. In these summaries, we are advised as to what should occur in each chapter. Certain events, milestones, meetings, etc. How that unfolds is very much up to the individual writers.

With writers from all over the world, you can be sure that cultures, genders, religions, morals, beliefs and writing styles will all be different. Add into the mix the different time zones, and you can see it could be a recipe for disaster.

Because how can you possibly plan?

I should let you know that we can read the novel as it unfolds. We are given links to the novel in ‘real time’ and we have a direct link to the chapter that we are writing, so we are not exactly writing blind.

However, I quickly realised that reading the novel as it was unfolding was only adding to my overall confusion, so I simply stuck with my own chapter.

Given we only have 24 hours to contribute our part, and the fact that each chapter evolves on a daily basis, there is not much time for planning.

Today was my day to contribute. I had read my chapter yesterday and it seemed as if the person before me had finished their section. So I began writing my section ahead of time (yes, always wanting to plan) so I could load it up today without too much stress. I felt reasonably happy with where I wanted to take the story, so went to bed feeling quite confident and was really looking forward to finishing it off this morning.

However, as I logged onto my computer this morning, I discovered that someone else had written their section too early, which meant that my section no longer flowed.

No!! What was I going to do? So much for best laid plans and all that.

Due to time zone differences, I only had a few hours to sort it out. As it turned out, it was more of a ‘fly by the seat of my pants’ activity, rather than a planned, structured writing session. It was both daunting and fun.

Sometimes, it’s better not to have a plan!

Yes, I am a planner at heart. I’m very organised and like my life to be like that. But when my plans were thrown out of the window, better things resulted.

You see, without a plan, I was free to write whatever came to me.

I was more creative.

I thought outside of the box.

I relied upon my own intuition.

I took ownership of my writing.

I trusted myself more.

And I even made decisions about key characters in the book 🙂

But most of all, I had fun. The adrenalin was flowing and I was in the zone. Within a few short hours, my work was done — and it turned out better than I expected.

Sometimes we need to plan.

But sometimes we need to throw our plans in the bin and allow ourselves the freedom to just go with the flow. To enjoy the moment for what it is, to see where our heart lies and what opportunities may be waiting to be discovered. To fly by the seat of our pants, so to speak.

Yes sometimes we need to plan, but not having a plan doesn’t always equate to failure.

At the risk of offending you…

Yesterday I sat down to write my blogkeep calm and think before you speak

There was something I wanted to write about. This issue had been popping up in various forums all week. It was something that was frustrating me, making me feel angry — and I was feeling quite fired up about it.

There was quite a bit I wanted to say. Some of it was likely to be controversial.

But the trouble was, there was too much I wanted to say — so I edited it.

There was too much that was controversial — so I cut it out.

I ran the risk of offending people — so I toned it down.

And then, there wasn’t much left at all.

It left me wondering how often do we do this? Feel like we have something important to say but water it down because we don’t want to offend people. Feel like people won’t be interested in our point of view so we shorten our conversation.

On the other hand, sometimes we do share what we feel is important but do so while we are still feeling emotional about it.

When this happens, our arguments are not well formed, we usually offend people, (hey, sometimes we don’t care if we offend people), and we lose credibility. I think I was at risk of this yesterday, despite the fact that I strongly believed in what I was writing.

It seems to me that there is a delicate balance of being ‘true to yourself’ and what you believe in, and respecting where others are at.

Sometimes it is easy to forget that we were once where they were — thinking the same things, believing the same things — and we become impatient because we have ‘moved on’ and they have not.

We feel we have the right to ‘preach’ to them that our way of thinking is right and theirs is wrong.

We project our morals, values and beliefs on them, and get frustrated when they don’t measure up to our expectations.

Instead, we should be meeting them where they are. We should understand that their path is not ours. We should remember that they have a right to look at things with different eyes.

That doesn’t mean that we should not speak up about issues we feel strongly about.

It simply means we need to think a little more before we speak.

So, the issue that I wanted to write about has been put on the shelf for a while. I still feel very strongly about it and I will write about it one day.

But for now, the moral of the story is ‘think a little before we speak’ (or write, in my case)!

Cheers.

 

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