May 5, 2014 at 7:10 am #27574
Look, I’m the first to admit there are certain things I look down on as a writer — like content mills that exploit writers or major publications which should be at the top of the pay tier but ask their writers to work for free. But what I’m not at all okay with is the general snobbery that seems to cycle through the writing community.
- journalists who don’t consider blogging to be “legitimate” writing
- magazine contributors who think all business writers are “sell outs”
- traditionally-published authors who look down on all indie authors
I’ve been on the receiving end of all of these arguments, but I’ve never let them get under my skin (well, at least not much). I know they usually come from a place of insecurity more than anything else. People are afraid of being replaced, they don’t like change, and in the case of the business writers as sell outs argument it’s often a case of trying to justify why they aren’t earning more. This is what happens when writers spend their time trying to justify their own existence and or seeking validation rather than focusing on their underlying businesses.
The positive side is that eventually writers seem to come around — such as with more traditionally-published authors becoming indies or hybrid authors these days and more traditional journalists contributing to blogs. It just takes time.
What about you? Have you been subjected to these kinds of blanket judgments? How do you deal with it? Have things gotten any better over time?May 6, 2014 at 7:28 pm #27577
I don’t look down on any market…even content mills…I look at it like this…If I was looking for a job would I look down of folks who check out help wanted ads? I mean they are full of minimum wage jobs and sometimes outright scams that take advantage of people looking for work…no…I apply for the jobs that I am qualified for, that pay the wage I can live on.
The same goes for bidding sites…lots of junk with lots of people writing for nothing….but there are good jobs listed in with the junk…kinda like gold panning.
When I was first online I struggled mightily for perceived respect from a certain group of online people that in the real world I was a leader of this same type of group (Christians and I was a pastor). I needed to grow a thicker skin because I was disrespected for my views many times. Now in most things I just let it roll of as I know I don’t have anything to prove…If I am getting a decent paycheck doing whatever then I am a professional – end of story…
Now I do admit it is nice to be recognized by those whose opinion you respect, but it might not happen, and if you bend over backwards trying to earn that respect it just messes things up.
RandySometimes it is not enough to do our best...we must do what is necessary.May 12, 2014 at 10:50 am #27689
I let the checks do the talking.
I get tired of writers who insist on their way being the ONLY way to work. It’s stupid. If we’re working and earning a fair wage for good work, who cares?
I’m also tired of novelists getting snobby about how to publish and how their way of writing is, once again, the ONLY way to do things. I’ve had debates with members of my writers group over it, and the people most adamant about how I must write are the ones who are still trying to get through their first draft.
What works for me may not work for you and vice versa. I’m with you guys. I don’t judge anyone unless they’re pointing the finger at me.May 12, 2014 at 11:43 am #27695
Here’s what it comes down to for me re: content mills:
Content mills will never be the best option for a freelancer trying to earn a solid living (the writers I target with this particular site). And no matter how many times people try to argue that they can make $60+ per hour writing a full 8 hours per day, the truth is that those people have a habit of going silent, and it doesn’t usually take very long. That’s because they learn the hard way that mill work isn’t sustainable over the long haul and that you can’t put all of your freelance eggs in a single basket as many of them end up doing.
What I (and other contributors here) have done over the years is point out the BS mill owners and editors spew to suck writers in (including exposing blatant lies) and help them find more sustainable options so they can build the businesses they really want. In other words, I happily admit I look down on mills. But looking down on their business model and owners who have a long history of exploiting the very people I work to help here is a very different thing than looking down on writers who happen to be working there. For those people, I’m always here to help when they’re ready to move on to something else.
As for bidding sites, I always suggest that writers avoid them if possible. It’s true. There are occasional gems there. But they’re few and far between. The bigger issue though is that bidding sites, by their very nature, have a race to the bottom approach. That never favors the freelancers involved.
There are ways to make it work. For example, if someone does want to take part in a site like Elance, my suggestion to them is to set their rates beforehand. Know what you would accept from a client secured independently. And don’t accept less than that just because you find a client on a bidding site. Make that your bare minimum bid amount. It’s the only way you completely eliminate the risk of getting screwed over on price. If you have the willpower to stick to your rates, you can indeed land decent gigs. Thankfully not all clients are 100% focused on finding the cheapest providers. But there are usually better ways to attract the kinds of clients you want. So while it can work out, it’s something else I’d probably suggest as a filler option rather than a primary source of gigs.
I know what you mean. I’ve heard quite a few stories recently from fellow freelancers who took bad advice and ended up suffering for it. They were told they had to do things a certain way — pretty generic advice that didn’t apply well to their circumstances. They took the advice because, well, pseudo-experts are very good at making themselves seem trustworthy (it usually involves little more than being the loudest voice in the room). This isn’t just a writer thing either. These self-proclaimed gurus sprout up in all sorts of industries online. The scary thing is that while they haven’t mastered the art of doing business in whatever industry they’re touting their expertise in (SEO and Internet marketing being common examples), they have mastered the art of getting the attention of hopeful newbies.
I’ve actually seen more progress on the novelist front than I expected recently. Well, at least in the traditional publishing vs indie publishing arena. I credit the hybrid author trend for that. I hadn’t even thought about it from the perspective of one genre to another or different writing styles. That must be challenging to deal with in a writer’s group.
Speaking of writer’s groups, have you had a chance to see Author’s Anonymous yet? I believe it’s in theaters or recently was, but Amazon has it available to rent. I didn’t love it, but I thought it was cute from a writer’s perspective. A little too realistic in some ways.May 12, 2014 at 7:24 pm #27710
I do not disagree with anything you said…I have felt accepted here even though I mostly write for bid sites…However I bid a constant price no matter what… And when I said “content mill” in my post I was talking about bid sites since that is where they troll for writers…I have a print publication that contacted me directly and wanted me to write at 1/2 my usual rate…
RandySometimes it is not enough to do our best...we must do what is necessary.May 12, 2014 at 9:29 pm #27711
It’s all good Randy. I just know we’ve taken hard stances against content mills here over the years so I wanted to make sure my position was clear (focusing largely on Demand Media Studios, but touching on most of the others as well).
It sounds like you have a smart policy with bidding sites, and as long as you don’t feel pressured to bid low just to land gigs, I’m sure they aren’t going to do you any harm. It’s crazy that a print publication wanted you to work for so little. Sadly even big print publications are going that way these days, expecting freelancers to simply be grateful for “exposure.” Out of curiosity, what kind of publication contacted you? Was it a trade pub or commercial magazine?May 15, 2014 at 9:48 am #27780
It was a commercial magazine…what is really funny is that the editor “tricked” (my fault… and I have no hard feelings) me into writing two articles for him for free. (they didn’t pay then) http://survivalist.com/issue-16-homesteading/
As you can see both articles are in this issue and one is the headliner…sigh…
Current issue but the writing was last year…a couple months ago he sent me an email asking if I would like to join the team and what he was offering to pay…Half what I get on elance but it is lower end of what many mags pay in the annual writers guide…still far from where I would like to be.
All I can say is that I am published in a semi-respectable hardcopy format now…
RandySometimes it is not enough to do our best...we must do what is necessary.May 15, 2014 at 11:47 am #27782
Yikes. I’m sorry that happened. But at least it sounds like you know your bottom line now. While I’m not a fan of writing solely for bylines and no pay (see this thread), I hope you’re able to make that work for you and turn the experience in something much more lucrative.May 16, 2014 at 7:47 am #27793
I put my blinders on because, frankly, I don’t care what anyone else thinks about anything I choose to do. It has no bearing on my life or my business and usually, as you said, that kind of snobbery is more about that person’s feelings and fears than about raising important, thoughtful objections.May 16, 2014 at 10:16 am #27796
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