Editorchat’s Blog

Where writers and editors connect

In which we discuss bridging another divide – that of the $$ variety

with 2 comments

Tim (@milehighfool) and I were talking after a tweet I sent out this morning, musing on what makes a professional writer work for little or no pay.

NOTE: Professional = a writer with a solid portfolio of clips, not just starting out.

Plenty of tweeps were quick to respond to this issue that we’ve touched on in previous chats, and one that I discussed in depth in my blog post, “What Price Freedom? Another ~F~ Word: Fees.”

Here’s a sampling of what they said:

@TankaBar_Linda: Hubris and overwhelming desire for an audience. Sort of like comedians. Many of my writer friends are taking work overseas. Voracious market for U.S. writers and rates are outstanding.
(Really? Like Reverse outsourcing? Where can we find said work?)

@stephauteri: Desperation? I’d do it to break into a publication I really loved. One with perpetually low rates, like Bitch or Bust.
(Hear that editrixes of Bitch and Bust? Ms. Auteri wants to work for you!)

@Alexandrialeigh: Um…desperation? Working at a discount for a charitable organization?
(Great minds…err…pens tweet alike).

@stephauteri: Then there are those writers who don’t know their own worth, and/or don’t believe they can command higher rates.
(Yet another example of how insecurity never gets us anywhere.)

@OurManinSH: My feeling is that they love the writing and justify the fact that at least they got something for the article. Not all writers are savvy when it comes to marketing themselves…
(No kidding – it is almost another whole job in and of itself)

@anniegirl1138 define “pittance.” No one’s paying in the ‘sphere, so I write for the “glory” of it all.

(Stumbled across submission requirements for an online magazine. $50 for 1000 word feature with research and multiple sources. When does glory give way to reality of bill paying?)

@anniegirl1138: Glory sucks. 1000 words for $50? Plus research? I’ll pass. I just blog. It’s fun. My “real” stuff? Not quite done. Soon.

@bob_bobala: That’s really swimming up stream. I think you have to be creative about it. Have enough work that pays for the good stuff. It is a tragedy that the best writing often pays the least money, no? Today, I am writing tax content. God help me.

In the spirit of keeping the discussion going, as well as perhaps creating a vehicle to help writers and editors get a feel for what different markets are like in terms of fees, we’d like to follow our chat about the digital divide with a discussion of the pay divide.

How do you go from making peanuts to a living wage?

Who’s done it and how?

Should there be set pay guidelines for certain types of projects?

Do new sites and content freeloaders make the chasm wider than ever?

Talk to us…


Written by LydiaBreakfast

March 20, 2009 at 7:42 pm

2 Responses

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  1. “Do new sites and content freeloaders make the chasm wider than ever?”

    I must have blogged and tweeted about this a trillion times. I feel that new sites (and I’m thinking mostly blog networks and pay-per-view sites) do indeed widen the pay chasm. Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free? Unfortunately, I feel this also lowers the quality of content out there, but sites such as these seem to be thinking more of quantity (page views) than quality.

    “Should there be set pay guidelines for certain types of projects?”

    Perhaps so. After all, a narrative opinion piece takes less legwork than a piece requiring extensive research, interviews, etc. (though in the end, it can still take just as long to craft a piece with style and grace).


    March 20, 2009 at 8:49 pm

  2. The experts at Newspaper Assoc. of America spoke with newspapers on both sides of the pay wall debate as part of NAA’s report on the online paid content debate. See what they said here:


    The full report is available at http://www.naa.org/paidcontent.


    March 21, 2009 at 3:31 pm

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