All facets of professional writing tend to be underpaid for two main reasons: Most people that call themselves "writers" are by no means professional; and those that are don't know how to value their time properly.
So, how much does a content writer get paid? Anywhere from $0.001 to $2+ per word. Do yourself a big favour and don't sell your time and skills for anything less than US $0.10 per word. This should be the minimum wage in terms of professional writing, whether it is for a blog, a landing page or a brochure.
As your niche skills and job-hunting become better and better, that number can only go up. To date, according to PayScale, the average content writer gets paid nearly US $42,000 per year. That's about $160 per day, taking weekends off.
While content writing alone won't make you rich, it will pay the bills, buy groceries and allow for some household savings. For many of you, I know that the simple dream of a decent income for work at home ties in perfectly with this kind of career!
In terms of an hourly wage, I suggest starting at a minimum of US $10 and moving up as you become more confident in the work. (For comparison, I currently charge $30 per hour. With some practice and fine-tuning, you can get there too!)
Microsoft Word has been the staple word processing software for a generation of PC users. More professional than Wordpad or Notepad, the most important thing about Word was really just that it was always THERE.
Not so much these days, with Microsoft Office subscriptions replacing pre-installed, never-expire versions of the Office suite. Like many people, I let the software trial end of its own accord after I bought my new laptop and simply switched to the online version of Word, accessible through OneDrive. No probs.
Except that yes, there were some probs. But I didn't notice at first.
The setup is pretty great, actually. When you create a Word document (or Excel, or PowerPoint, etc.) online, the file becomes instantly accessible both online AND offline, through your OneDrive folder. That's cool. Like a Dropbox copy without the hassle. And of course there's the best feature of all: unpaid access.
So online Word grew on me. I've been using it for at least six months without much of an issue--but this week, I think every flaw in the system introduced itself to me at once.
Here's what you're going to face with the online version of Word:
In conclusion, I went ahead and paid the damn subscription fee. It's actually really affordable, and now I can create videos from my PowerPoint presentations.
It's time to debunk a very annoying myth: "You can't use Wikipedia as a source of information!" You hear it from university professors, research organizations and anyone else that wants you to put some kind of literature together with facts. Pah, I say.
Of course you can use Wikipedia! Just look at all that information sitting there, neatly arranged into sections to make learning quick and easy. The website might insist that it is run by volunteers, but don't be fooled--there are research and writing professionals behind most of Wikipedia's encyclopedia pages.
So what do you do if other sources are tough to find, or you're just short on time?
Open Wikipedia and Read the Page You Were Going to Read Anyway
Go on, just do it. Find the information you need, learn what you needed to learn and write your piece. Easy, right? Great.
The truth is, Wikipedia does a fantastic job of putting together tonnes and tonnes of information that would otherwise take hours to dig up from "reputable publishers." It's almost as if they're a....get this...encyclopedia company. But a better one that updates automatically so you don't have to buy a new set every 5 years. Wow! What an innovative idea!
The "Problem" With Sourcing
There is no actual problem with sourcing, unless you're just writing "Wikipedia" at the bottom of your paper or linking to a specific page. And yes, THAT would be ridiculous.
Here's what you should be doing, using an example I'm currently using:
I wanted to know how many people were living in Rome in the Middle Ages, and Wikipedia was pretty sure it could help me out (it did.) Here's the exact sentence I needed:
Now, there are two ways to use the information you find on a page such as this. In my case, there is no footnote marked for this particular fact. So, I head over to Google and type in the basic information as I've found it:
And then, do some scrolling...and there it is! A "real" source stating the same fact. Hurray! Open it up, double-check it, and go ahead and cite that thing.
Sometimes, it's even easier than that. For example, let's say the fact I wanted to find was actually about the origins of the name of the city itself. Using the same Wikipedia page, the following sentence does just that:
Now, see that tiny little "8" at the end of the sentence? That's what we call a footnote. It leads to the end of the document, where you will find the exact source from which the information came.
Click it, and it leads to this:
That's your source. Cite it. Stop worrying. Finish your project and chill.
Hi friends, it's Homer the Freelancer here!
Recently I happily stumbled upon the page of the lovely Miss Hazel Fluffypants, a freelance writer just like me! We exchanged intermews, and I'd like to share our Q&A with you :) Follow Miss Hazel via her webpage or Facebook for more info!
1. Why did you get into writing?
Well, initially, the keyboard felt warm on my paws. I also intermewed quite a few social media cats in my first year of blogging, fascinated by the community we are not otherwise able to have due to our limited communication infrastructure. We have stories to tell, good stories, and I want to help.
I also love making my readers laugh and feel good at the same time, and as a cat, I am pretty good at it. Sometimes I do goofy things, like when I close the door in your face, or knead you in the pudge, but if you are upset, I will snuggle you, and if you are fixing a broken sink, I will be there, ready to help as if I was a plumber in a previous life.
2. Did you find it difficult to find work due to discrimination against feline writers? I often use my human's name to book jobs.
I just ran into this problem last week! The internet has made us famous because we do so many funny things, like yesterday when I figured out how to get on top of the fridge. Unfortunately, though, some people tend to take our work less seriously, but that's okay. We just have to work twice as hard, and sleep only 22 hours a day instead of the average 25.
3. What is special about your person?
My Pops is the best. He lets me use his keyboard to write and also throws me pieces of my dry food, and I try to catch them. Sometimes I do!
4. My step-sister Minnie Mew is a calico like you, but she is grumpy and won't let me play with her. Can I play with you?
Yes, please! No one plays with me, even though literally everyone plays with me all the time, but I meow as if they don't.
5. What is your favourite thing to write?
Holiday stories! I am working on one right meow for Halloween!
6. Is everything you write on the computer, or do you do a bit of pen-and-paper scribbling once in awhile?
Pawing at a keyboard is more expedient due to my conspicuous lack of thumbs, but I do find it important to use my paws to paw-write things, since it uses the part of the brain associated with the subconscious. If I am stuck on a part of my story, I just paw it out on paper and find the answer was there all along.
7. What is the worst writing job you've ever had?
Hmm, I don't think I have one! I have been lucky to work on some wonderful projects in my short life so far.
Thanks for chatting! Headbonks and purrs to you <3
There's an episode of Friends that has stuck with me for a long time, in which Rachel is fed up with her waitressing job at Central Perk. She wants to break into the fashion industry, but a lack of formal education or any real job experience means that her horde of poorly-edited resumes has turned up nothing. Joey and Chandler suggest that she quit her current job, and get "The Fear."
"If you quit this job, you then have the motivation to go after a job you really want!"
It makes sense, but like Chandler, you might be "too afraid" to follow this advice.
Here's the thing though: The Fear really works!
When I started freelance writing, I had no reputation and no published content. The Fear of no more spaghetti in the cupboard, no decent cat food in the kitties' dishes, and perhaps no more tiny one-bedroom apartment to shelter us drove me to seek out all kinds of crazy writing opportunities, and work for less than peanuts to make something of myself. I hooked up with an academic writing company and a content farm (the first of which paid better) and eventually chose to work exclusively with the content farm just so that I didn't have to be embarrassed when explaining what kind of work I did. Well, not as embarrassed, anyway.
After a year of working my ass off, making connections and getting things published, I had a decent portfolio and a few extra job offers, though they were extremely underpaid. I took them, because I still needed spaghetti and cat food, but soon I was able to move up into the world of middle-wage content farming! The day I completed my first Scripted post for $24.50, I felt like anything was possible. Sauce to go with my spaghetti! Tuna for the cats! New sheets!
Several years later I am averaging $50 per hour with my writing, and I've moved my furry gang into a 3-bedroom house with a gorgeous enclosed back yard just for them. They eat some of the most nutritious cat food in the world, and I have time to make pizza, bean burgers, curry and all kinds of fun things for dinner. We can afford to use the air conditioner!
Life is good, and it is all thanks to The Fear. Well, several Fears, in fact: working under someone I don't respect; getting up too early in the morning; commuting; doing a job that doesn't matter to me; and being stuck firmly in one location forever.
There are 3 things I've learned that will take your freelance writing career to the next step:
What are you afraid of? Is it enough to make you take the plunge?