Monday, April 27, 2009

Writing for Nothing, Writing for Next to Nothing

One of the areas I'm exploring for bringing in income is freelance writing. I was a creative writing major in college, went to an MFA program, and of course, ended up with a Ph.D. in Rhetoric and Composition. It makes sense that I might want to put those skills to use in other ways. I have a couple of things I'm working on that may pan out, but for more regular income, I've been perusing sites for freelancers. Another benefit to these sites is that there are also some more technically oriented jobs that I qualify for. I've yet to be successful in winning a proposal, but I'm pretty picky about what I submit. You see, I've discovered where most of the crap on the Internet comes from--not freelancers themselves, many of whom are talented writers doing a variety of writing work--but from the not-so-great writers willing to do anything for a buck. And literally, they're making a buck. Many of the jobs posted want you to write articles for $1-2 apiece. Now, granted, these aren't long articles (around 500 words), but still what kind of writing can you expect? Many of these articles are churned out by software and cleaned up slightly by actual people, so someone can churn out 20 articles a day or more (the actual requirement for some of these jobs). They are often SEO optimized, meant to drive Google searches to their sites so they can either make money of the ads or sell an actual product. Yay, capitalism. I think the places I'm looking are the lowest common denominator places, where the people posting jobs don't have much money and the people accepting jobs don't have or need much. I know there are better places out there, but I haven't had the time to explore them much.

The funny thing is, of course, I write this blog for nothing. Although I have a few ads on the side and an Amazon Associates account, I've made less than $50 over the last 5 years of writing this blog. One of my former colleagues suggested I try to make money here and I laughed. The things I'd have to to do make that happen are just not in me. I've been contacted by advertisers, more lately than in previous years and most of them are companies I'd be willing to advertise for, but I've turned all of them down so far. I'm committed to writing here every day, mostly out of a connection I feel to my audience and out of a desire to continue practicing my writing even if I'm not getting paid. I'm a shameful idealist, hoping in the back of my mind to be "discovered" and refusing to "sell out." I may not write articles for $1 apiece, but if writing is the path I go down, I'm certainly going to have to let go of some of my purist tendancies.