Does Freelance Writing Pay? By Monica Marier

freelance writing

“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.

You can follow Monica on twitter @lil_monmon and her visit her blog.

Do you have experience of freelancing? Let us know in the comments section below.

5 thoughts on “Does Freelance Writing Pay? By Monica Marier

  1. As a writer with my only “paying” job so far a content mill- I appreciated this blog. Thanks for posting (and I hope I didn’t REALLY sell my soul when I joined your followers!).

  2. oops! I forgot to mention that you can follow me on twitter @lil_monmon and my blog is (d’oh!)

  3. You are so right about promotion being very good currency in and of itself!And it is very lucky that you have found a way to do what you love.Even if it makes you crazy sometimes.I’m sure GAP people envy you, too. 🙂

  4. Forgive me for sounding a bit snarky, I really don’t mean to be.I’m a writer, with my first book coming out March 2011 from Simon & Schuster. That’s a little under a year away. That’s a long time to go without food or drink, meaning promoting yourself doesn’t pay the bills NOW. Don’t get me wrong, I completely understand what you are saying here about promoting yourself and how each fan/pre-order/whatever counts. I get that. I’m promoting myself in the same manner. To me the definition of a freelance artist though is someone who gets paid for their work. I freelance right now on the internet while waiting for my novel to come out and it brings me about 2K a month. Not bad. I do all that work on top of promoting myself, putting out podcasts, and shaking my money maker to let everyone and their mother know that I have a book coming out so that when it hits the shelves, it will sell. I’m not doubting your commitment to your craft or anything of that manner, you obviously are good enough to be published, so kudos to you. I just think that if you’re going to do a guest post about being a freelance writer and talk about what it pays, then you should be a freelance writer who gets paid for their work.

  5. Wonderful Post! As a single parent of two very busy children, I find it increasingly hard to deal with the people who look at writing what I do as a mere hobby. Working a full time job, on top of parenting, when you tell someone that you’re a writer, and if you don’t have a big publishing company signing your work they turn their noses up at you. I had a friend once ask me on one of my many self-hating days of writing, was I writing for a paycheck to be rich and famous or was I writing because it’s what I loved doing. His question made perfect sense. I do it because I love writing and love crafting ideas, that simple.Thank you for the post.

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