Business of Freelance

Insulted by a Writing Paycheck

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A paycheck is not the measure of my value or worth but the payment for a job completed.

“I want a job.”

“Doing what?”

“As little as possible with a lot of pay.”

That may not have been the conversation exactly, but that is how it sounded. The person I visited with needed to find new opportunities but didn’t want to change what they were doing or who they were targeting.

The mere suggestion of working for less than they currently earned was an INSULT. Yes, he actually told me that it was an insult to his abilities.

I have been working full-time (from home as I homeschooled – or from the parking lot of an activity as I homeschooled) and I have written for dollars and for peanuts. The goal has been to build a living wage income while making time for my family while also building my own writing and speaking platform.

I have written about ash scattering services, researched colleges for lists for another writer, and even ghost written whole eBooks for would amount to pennies per word. I have yet to be insulted by a paycheck.

Yes, they have annoyed me.

Yes, they have frustrated me.

Yes, they have left me wanting for more.

They have never once insulted me.

My dad was watching television the other day and saw Tom Selleck doing a reverse mortgage commercial. I have no doubt that the commercial did not challenge his acting skills. I also have no doubts that he was not insulted by the “lowly” job.

Sometimes you do what you can do until you are in a position to do what you want to do. Sometimes you go back and do what you can do until you are back in a position to do what you want to do.

It is not always about the perfect position or even the better position. There are going to be times when it is about having a position that provides a paycheck.

Writing for a Living is HARD

1. People are always going to judge what you do – LITERALLY. The ones that like what you do will sometimes purchase what you produce (a portion of them anyway). The ones that REALLY like what you are doing will share you with others. The ones that don’t like what you are doing will be the most vocal to you and to everyone that will listen.

2. You are your own boss – at least if you are working as a freelancer. Yes, you may be working for other clients or for other companies, but you will set your hours and you will determine your office. Many writers are creatives and creatives will chase many squirrels on the way to grandmother’s house we go . . . in other words, distractions will abound. I write this from a parking lot as I car share with my oldest son and wait for his class to end. I have to not only find ways to make it work but I have to MAKE IT WORK. Sometimes it’s easier to get it done when you have someone else telling you what to do.

3. You are judging your work. If it comes to easy then you may decide it’s bad. If it comes with too much of a challenge then you may decide it’s bad. If you keep up the harsh judgement too long then the words stop coming and you begin longing for the days of the too easy and too hard even if it was all garbage. Sometimes you have to trust the words to do what they need to do. They may not be the next literary masterpiece, but they may be just what is necessary to get the work done.

4. Not all jobs are created equal. What looks like a great paying job may end up taking more time because of a nitpicking client. What looks like a less paying job may pay more in the long run because of the ease of production and the gracious acceptance from the client. Sometimes it takes wading in with the client to see if the job is worth what’s being offered.

I talked with a potential client the other day that was offering what I considered small pay – not an INSULT, mind you – but not what I was used to making. I talked to a second client that was offering similar pay. I began to work with the first because she had a detailed list of what she wanted and how she wanted. I have yet to take on the challenge with the second because he is still trying to pin down what he wants.

*HINT* If the client is struggling to define what he needs then the pay will likely never match the aggravation.

Freelancing of any variety is dirty business and sometimes you may have to get a little dirt on your hands to make it work. If at any point this journey begins to INSULT you then it may be time to consider a new path.

What do you think? Have you ever been insulted by a paycheck?

Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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