“What’s it pay?”
I cringe every time someone asks me this. I’ve been doing freelance writing for over three months now and it’s a lot like an elementary experiment in stone-age economy. There’s a different currency on the internet and sadly, it’s not recognized by Tesco. Online the currency is “promotion”.
I do “The Fat Diaries” column and comic on obesity for a prestigious online newsletter whose meager profit margin comes from donations and their vanity shirt store. They don’t make money, they get publicly lauded by celebrities and politicians (like Stephen Colbert). Their goal is to post their ideas and get people to listen to them. So needless to say, they don’t pay me and they aren’t alone in this.
More and more these days the web is becoming a media phenomenon that has 10 times the power and capability of the nineties internet bubble, but with only a fraction of its net profit. Guest writers and regular writers get paid in pennies or not at all. Even the most accomplished of journalists are forced to host giveaways and all of them have that gaudy yellow paypal button.
So the big question is if there’s no money, WHY DO IT? This of course brings us back to my first statement about currency. It’s for the promotion.
My bosses aren’t paying me a cent, but they’ve promised to promote my book that’s coming out this fall. Other sites I’ve written for host links to my webcomics and blog. My publishers promote my site, and their authors promote me, while I in turn promote them.
It all seems middling sometimes, but each fan, each pre-order, each site that tells everyone that “Monica Marier is a great author/artist/person and you should buy her book/read her comic/give her money” is advertising I didn’t have to buy! It’s the old “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours,” bit, warts and all.
I do have my dark days where I toss my hands up, pull at my hair and moan, “what’s it all about?”
That’s when I step away from the computer and go for a walk, or play with my kids or do anything other than write. Eventually the need will seize me, or the deadline will remind me that people are counting on me, and I get to work again. This is a job. A REAL job, even if I’m not being paid physical money right now.
And I’m so lucky that I get to do the job I love, even if occasionally it drives me bonkers.
It’s not easy, as I’m sure you all know, but hell, if I was going to pick an easy life, I’d have gotten a job folding shirts at the GAP store.
Monica Marier is a caffeinated stay-at-home mother of two. She writes and draws 3 comics for Tangent Artists and writes “The Fat Diaries” a weekly comic/article on Obesity in America for FrumForum. Her first published novel “Must Love Dragons,” a Fantasy comedy, is being published this fall by Hunt Press. Monica lives in Washington D.C. with her husband Joe.
Do you have experience of freelancing? Let us know in the comments section below.