Thursday, June 21, 2007

The Net Value Of A Writing Assignment

For many months now, I've been trying to trade up to better paying jobs. I've learned some things in the process.

A writing job isn't just about how much it pays, it's also about how much effort and job satisfaction accompanies earning that money. I have learned to judge jobs by more than just how much they pay. Here are a few things to take into consideration when accepting an assignment.

-How much does the job pay per word?
-How much research is involved?
-How many revisions or re-writes does this particular client usually expect?
-How much time will you have to complete the task?
-How enjoyable will the work be?
-How long will it take to get paid?

A job that pays .05 per word may take ten times longer to do than a job that pays .01 per word so consider how much you can make overall when deciding on a job. It could take you a month to prep a single article for $500.00 or you could write enough to earn $2,000.00 in the same month although you've written 20000 words.

Research and prep time is important. Does it take you hours to research a topic or can you simply park yourself in front of the screen and have the words flow like silk out of your fingers?

What's the client like to deal with? If you are dealing with someone who will chop your work up into a zillion pieces regardless of the work involved, you may want to think twice before accepting regular assignments from them. Do they get back to you right away? Are they pleasant to deal with?

Time wise, will the job allow you flexibility or will you have to drop everything to get it done quickly?

I used to think it was all about the rate per word but I'm fast discovering it's about much more than that.

I have a client who doesn't pay very well but who will give me an extension if I need it and generally pays me within seventy-two hours of invoicing. This client is much easier to do business with than my other better paying client who takes days to answer my emails and about two weeks to three months to pay, even though the invoice looks a bit nicer.

Enjoyment is a big part of it too. Freelance writing is hard work. Look for assignments that are not only lucrative but that give you zest for life as well.



Sun Singer said...

In addition to your considerations, I tend to have an "annoyance surcharge." This is for clients who constantly want free stuff and who otherwise eat up my time for mundane changes and discussions making the job simply not worth taking at the regular rates.


BloggingWriter said...

Great post, Dana. There are a lot of variables to working out which freelancing assignments pay best, and enjoyment is a key factor, too, at least some of the time. It helps make up for the times when you take a job just to pay the bills.

Katherine Huether said...

Yes, this was a great post. I figured the same thing out, too. However, I have also learned that sometimes it really isn't about the money. I don't really get paid anything to be the Greek Food Editor at But I like it, and it helps me remember that there is joy in writing. Some of my better paying assignments are not that fun!

Anonymous said...

We are in the same boat and I'm beginning to think the steady gig may not be as lucrative as I once thought.

Dana Prince said...

Malcolm! Great to see you. Where you been hiding?

Sharon, Thanks for the're SO right!

Kat, I know what you're saying...I can think of a handful of gigs that I'd do for free too. A lot of my blogging efforts only results in community or a laugh so I do some writing for free too :)

Thanks, anonymous...I know what discussion you're talking about from the other forum. I don't want to give up on that gig yet but it is getting a bit frustrating!

WritingForFood said...

Great post! I've found the same thing among my clients. Some make it a joy to do the work, so a few less pennies per word doesn't really affect my decision to take an assignment. But when the work is tedious, the required research is extensive, AND the client lacks a professional attitude, I am more likely to "just say no."

Laura said...

It's true! Not all assignments are created equal.

Laura said...

This is a good list. For me it's much better to work with people who are easy to get along with than with people who are difficult. I like the idea of an annoyance surcharge.

Dana Prince said...

wouldn't that surcharge be wonderful? I should build that into my standard contract and tell them it's based on a sliding scale.LOL. Thanks for stopping by, Laura.

WritingForFood said...


After reading your guest post at Get Paid To Write Online, I decided to look back over your blog, and this is what I found. I can only assume you meant *me* in your post, as I did a similar post about being selective about assignments. Wish I could have contacted you privately, but I can't find an email address for you.

You're right that they are similar, and as I compare them I can certainly see your point. I have to say, however, that I didn't think about your post at all when I was writing mine. At the time I was inspired because I had turned down a fairly well-paying assignment because the work didn't interest me. Nonetheless, I suppose it's possible that your post was in my subconscious, though I can honestly say that I remember thinking of it at all.

That said, I would never want anyone to even HINT that I was capable of plagiarism, as the idea of it incenses me in general, so I'm removing my post.

Just wanted to let you know.

Dana Prince said...

Thanks for writing to me, writingforfood.
I have written back to your e-mail account directly. I appreciate your posting here.