April 20, 2005
The Power of "No!" By David Geer | printable version
I've been practicing the power of saying "No!", no to low paying markets, unfair deals and crazy time constraints and work loads.
This practice can leave a hole in your schedule for a while, but it will likely be worth it. By saying "No!" you gain time to approach well-paying markets staffed by kind-hearted folks who value their freelancers.
Every hole begs to be filled; it's only a matter of filling it with the right things. For example, many have tried to fill a broken heart with alcohol, gaining only illness and more heartache. Others gorge themselves with food, growing fat. But if you fill yourself with love from someone who prizes you, you reap the benefits of comfort, companionship and emotional satisfaction.
The same goes for your writing schedule. Fill it with bad markets and you'll tie yourself in knots. Reject them and the good ones will eventually find their way to your door.
Start by learning how to find better markets and write better proposals. Find and pitch those markets. You can fill your schedule with training, too, in better writing, better self-marketing and better writer business management. You'll become more visible and more desirable to better publications. Then you can start filling that hole with assignments from those markets.
Set your fees higher and higher. Say you currently take work at .10 to .30 cents a word. Once you get your first sale at .50 a word, use the time you spent pitching those .10 markets to pitch more .50 markets.
One sale of the same length at .50 a word is worth five at .10 a word. You'll be completing one assignment instead of five, creating a time savings you can invest in more markets that pay .50 to $1 a word.
People are natural followers, always in search of a leader. Your editors will follow your lead, realizing they can't get you for .10 a word anymore. Others will realize that if you're getting .50 a word you're probably doing good work. If that's what they pay, it will be easier for them to mitigate hiring you.
People want to work with people they like. Half of liking someone is respecting them. Most of being respected comes from respecting yourself, in this case, enough to charge higher fees, do better work and grow your career.
I've made it past .50 a word to $1 a word and more. I grew my fees using the same process I describe here. When all I expected was low pay, that was all I got. When I decided it was time to find higher paying markets, I queried the cheapies less and the high payers more. I started turning work down when I could afford to and saw myself engaged in better gigs with better rewards.
Those who pay more will often gladly tell you so. They pay the same to everyone so they can demand quality work every time and get it.
One market that paid me $1 a word was a legal publication named Voir Dire. The editor looked me up after reading a query for sources for a story on the Bill of Rights. He soon hired me to write a similar story from a legal perspective. He volunteered that they paid $1 a word. I wrote for them a couple of times.
I went on to make a good buck from VARBusiness magazine. I approached the news editor, who had ideas about what needed covering. I wrote three pieces for them. I've written for nearly a dozen markets at a $1 a word or more. After a while you gain confidence that more exciting work is always waiting around the bend.
If you fill up on the writer markets equivalent of junk food, you won't have room for the good stuff when it comes along. Good paying work can as likely come when your schedule is tight and the hours are long as when you're available and ready to tackle it.
David Geer is a freelance writer who tells technology markets he's a technology writer and scores great assignments and big bucks from continually happy editors while secretly satisfying the need to write about almost anything else, as well. Reach him at http://www.GeerCom.com.