We are fortunate to live in this particular age. There are wonders everywhere you look.  Just turn on the TV and start flipping through the channels. We even have half hour commercials in case the thirty-second ones didn’t get the job done. There are cures for cellulite, achy backs, bad breath, doggie incontinence, senior citizen incontinence, “performance” problems (and I ain’t talking about the family sedan), memory loss, crow’s feet, flat feet, washtub abs, wrinkles, varicose veins, gas (and I ain’t talking about the family sedan), high mortgage rates, and the heartbreak of psoriasis.

So when will somebody come up with a cure for a lack of writing assignments?

Unfortunately, somebody has.

Anyone who wants to write, and write a lot, now has that option. Between the rash of content heavy sites on the Internet and some less than reputable eBook publishers, the opportunities are almost endless.

They are also an insult to any decent writer. These content mills pay a pittance – or worse, pay nothing up front — with the promise that you will make a lot of money based on the number of hits your page receives, and they are best left alone.

Just out of curiosity, I sent a writing sample to one of these sites to see what would happen. And it wasn’t just any sample. This one was really bad. Bad spelling, funky grammar, incomplete sentences, this piece had it all. But they offered to hire me and pay $10 – $15 per 500 word article.

I made that much on the first paragraph of a project I finished recently. Let’s see … 2¢ per word or $1.00 per word … that’s a toughie. And for those who are now thinking, “yeah, but you’ve been doing this for a while and I’m just starting,” indulge me for a moment while I pass along one of the great secrets of writing as it was passed along to me.

One of the Great Secrets of Writing

When I first started writing, I wrote mostly short stories and essays. Short fiction in certain genres was hot, and I managed to tap into a few publishers who liked my work. I was making as much as $25 for a short story! Woo Hoo!! And I was getting about the same thing for the column I wrote for 2 AM magazine. I was quite content until a certain “big name” writer acquaintance took me aside and asked one simple question.

Isn’t your writing worth more than that?

My reasoning was simple: I was a beginning writer and figured I would work my way up the ladder. Start with the low paying gigs and move up the monetary scale as I gained more experience. His response: Why not just let the writing speak for itself. If your writing isn’t good enough for a top market, then it is not ready for submission. Do your best work. Then, start with the top markets, and if you get rejected, move down to the next one. But don’t sell yourself short.

My next story sold for $1,300.

Don’t Just Settle For Seeing Your Name in Print

While some people lament about the fact that traditional publishers just aren’t hiring new writers, other freelancers are being hired by traditional publishers. And web site owners. And greeting card companies. And public relations departments. And school library publishers. And print magazines. And online magazines. And corporate blogs. And local businesses.

Get the idea?

Finding places to sell your writing takes work. But the work is out there. And once you get a reputation for doing good work and hitting deadlines, work even comes to find you. But it doesn’t happen by taking short cuts, and while there is sometimes an element of luck involved, you can’t rely on luck either.

You won’t progress very far by giving your work to parasitic content mills that are in it for the massive amount of content they can provide and the pittance they can pay writers. It’s a case of quantity over quality, and while there are ways to make OK money through some of these places, the same amount of work for traditional publishers and other places that pay a decent price for quality work, will produce good money.

Quit your day job money.

Does that mean there is never a time that you would write something for a lesser amount? Not necessarily. But it should depend on the circumstances and your reason for accepting less.

I wrote some content for a medical web site. It only paid $55, but the up side is, I wrote it in twelve minutes off the top of my head (my wife is a medical specialist, and since we share an office, I asked her a couple of quick questions … and voila … instant research). I also gave a high-end lifestyle magazine here in North Carolina permission to reprint an essay I sent them as a writing sample. It has been published many times (you gotta love reselling material), and in exchange for that “freebie”, I get a lot of exposure, two feature articles around Christmas, and the possibility

of writing a regular essay feature for one of the publisher’s other magazines.

I’d say that was worth giving them an essay that has already paid for two weeks at Disney World.

Wrapping Up

So, when you see phrases like …

You don’t have to be a professional writer…
It’s a unique payment structure. More details will be given to qualified applicants.
… with the opportunity to earn a significant amount of incentive compensation based on the number of page views of your articles …

Run the other way.

Your work is worth more than that.

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