There are two ways to write this blog post:
The first is the woe-is-me, "Why did I pick a profession that is so utterly poverty-stricken?" way, a full-on, ten-hankie lament about the dire state of modern-day publishing.
The second is the "Put your big-girl panties on!" way, one that is, on balance, far more productive - and, dare I say, cheerful. (Empowering, too, although that word really makes me squirm. So corny...)
Because I'm feeling upbeat and optimistic about my future - despite the topic of today's rant - I will opt for Plan B, aka Project Put Your Big-Girl Panties On.
In the interest of saving space (and my typing fingers), let's shorten that to Project Panties. Cool?
So what exactly is Project Panties, you ask?
It's me getting real, babe, about the work I do for a living.
With the advent of the World Wide Interweb, and the fact that perhaps literally billions of people now consider themselves "writers," the nature of what actual, bonafide writers (the kind who have a stack of clips as tall as the Tour Eiffel and maybe even a book under their belts) - do has been greatly de-valued.
Like 10 cents per word de-valued.
Yes, you read that right: Ten. Cents. Per. Word.
Are there markets that easily pay 20+ times that amount? Yes, thank the heavens above.
And in the past month, I've filed stories for publications in both of those payment spheres.
The 10-centser I did for the following reasons: A) The publication is local, and I want to get my name out and about in my newly adopted FLA city. B) It's charming and well-designed, and those are key market criteria for me. C) I had NO IDEA that that was the going rate for that pub until I'd already committed to the assignment.
Wait, let me amend that: I not only committed to the assignment, I pitched it. I went to them. After seeing a "Write for Us!" house ad in the back of a recent issue, I introduced myself electronically, and sent the link to this very website so they could see examples of my work. And when I heard back (about five minutes later, max), I dove right in to telling them my idea.
During that initial chat, there was no discussion of money. And because I'm the world's worst negotiator (and thankfully don't need to hit any specific financial targets each month), I wasn't about to broach the subject right then and there. I got off the phone thinking: "I might just be doing this story for free!"
Later, after I'd filed, I found out I would in fact be getting a tiny bit of dough for my efforts. Enough to re-blonde my hair for one month, which I guess is something. (I'm so not down with roots. Shudder...)
It hasn't hit the newsstands yet, but I have to say that writing the 10-centser was pretty seamless. If it comes out well, and I think it will, it will be a local clip I can be proud of.
But what I don't think I'll be doing, going forward, is writing for that publication again. As lovely as it is, and as nice as the people running it are, I just...can't.
I need to remember that I'm running a business here. A teensy weensy business, but a business all the same.
Project Panties means seeking out better-paying markets, always. If I'm going to work for free (or as close to free as 10 cents per word gets, which is pretty darn close), it needs to move my personal agenda forward in a maje way.
Two examples of unpaid but meaningful writing work: Helping a dear pal launch the website for a great little beauty brand, and blogging, which is totally my hobby and not my jobby.
The budding beauty brand has legs for days; seriously, I predict Big Things. And blogging, especially on my Momover site, just flat-out makes me happy. While I've never tried to monetize Momover by writing sponsored posts, it has monetized itself over the years by acting as a virtual billboard for my informed + edgy writing style.
Apart from the budding beauty brand and blogging on my own sites, everyone else needs to pony on up. But first, I need to put my Big-Girl Panties on and actually ask for the money. And then it needs to appear.