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Happy new year, freelancers. Here’s $5.

January 8, 2010 Leave a comment

As a freelancer, this headline grabbed me by the throat: “Freelance writing’s unfortunate new model.” Los Angeles Times columnist James Rainey explores what I’ve been dismayed about for some time now: the steadily declining pay being offered to freelance writers. Sixteen cents a word, or worse yet, free? It’s an outrage. Does (good) information really yearn to be free, or are companies taking advantage of poor, out-of-work writers?

I’ve been paid to edit, and I’ve been paid to write. It’s not that writing is that much harder. But it’s more time-consuming, especially if you’re reporting. Yes, times are tough. But writers should boycott getting paid peanuts, or nothing at all. Build your brand? Showcase your work? That’s bull. It devalues what you do. You know all that talk about newspapers needing a new business model? If you’re a freelancer, you need a business model. Free isn’t it.