There’s this one feeling we have as writers; that we’re not adequate.
That we’re not yet complete.
That we’re missing something.
That we’re NOT writers!
Due to this feeling, it’s often very difficult – especially for the newbie writer – to decline a proposal to work for free on the promise of getting hired.
What if you had to write 5 articles a day, every day for 5 months on promise that you’ll be hired?
That’s what happened to Grace, a reader whose question I’ll be answering today. My answer to Grace’s question is a little short for a blog post, but I think it has some important tips for writers.
Here’s Grace’s question:
“I am doing an apprenticeship with an international SEO firm now to gain experience, and have been writing for them every day for 5 months already. I am waiting for them to hire me and it makes me afraid things will go on forever as an apprentice. I also have bills to pay (lol). Will it please you to discuss someday about the writer-apprentices and their situations? Like me, who is at the mercy of the firm’s decision because I lack the needed experience and costly proper training. Is 5 months enough for me to do things on my own and search for clients? I only know SEO article writing because that is what was assigned to me — keywords and writing topics around them. I totally love my job but is there any chance of getting hired soon? Do you know of other apprentices who have made it?”
I can feel you in regards to finding out how difficult things can be on the way up. It’s the real truth we eventually get to discover ourselves over time, but the fact that you didn’t give up shows you have what it takes to succeed in this. Please don’t give up!
In regards to the international SEO firm, I’m sorry to say this but they’re taking advantage of you.
An article a day for them, for five months?! I can’t tell you not to write for them. At the same time, they’ve gotten used to using your articles for free, so they’re unwilling to pay you for your work. This is synonymous to giving people free writing samples. It’s something I totally advise against.
If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you’ll have noticed I emphasize a lot about how important guest blogging is. If you had submitted all those articles you’ve written in the past 5 months for them as guest posts to other blogs, (directing the traffic and links to your blog) I can assure you that you’d have gotten at least 5 – 10 high-paying clients of your own by now. And I mean it!
Let’s say there’s an average of 30 days in one month. An article a day for 30 days x 5 months is 150 articles – articles that you’d have otherwise used to market your freelance writing business. Even if it’s within an apprenticeship framework, I don’t think any client should take that many articles from you without paying you. It should NEVER be!
I can definitely feel your pain here but I can assure you of one thing: based on your emails that I’ve read, you already have the experience and training it takes to succeed as a freelance writer. You have a lot of it, but what you might need more is the confidence that you can do it.
You’re not alone in that regard. It’s natural to think we’re not okay in some regards, but you can’t really be sure of what you have to offer until you get started.
Some Key Points
1. Under no circumstances, don’t EVER work for a client for free with a promise that you’ll be hired.
Not only does this undermine your value as a writer (and the perceived value of writers in general), it actually increases your chances of not being hired.
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t write for free. You have to, in the form of comments, guest posts and blog posts. However, there’s a huge difference in writing for yourself and writing for a client.
2. There’s nothing called apprenticeship for writers.
No writer is perfect; only a master can have apprentices and writing isn’t something you master. It’s something you learn. In other words, the best way to be a good writer is by doing it every day, and ‘every day’ never ends.
So, for how long will you be an apprentice?
If you want to be a better writer, start a blog; update it regularly, write guest posts on other blogs, encourage and actively solicit feedback on your writing.
3. There’s nothing to fear
Getting clients? Making money? Raising rates?
All these things are damn easy if we commit to doing them! The only thing stopping us is the fear.
Now, this not to say I don’t have my own fears. I do have them, and that’s why I know it’s very easy to do all the above things if you want to.
In Grace’s example, if she were publishing a post a day on her blog, and a post a day on other blogs in the form of properly targeted guest posts, not only would she be rich; she’d have more job offers than she could handle.
And no, Grace isn’t a mediocre writer. Far from it! I’ve checked out her blog and I’ve seen what she can write.
The only thing stopping her is the FEAR that she can’t do it. And she’s not alone; fear is the only thing stopping a lot of us writers from doing better – or even getting started.
What do you think?
Do you think writers should write for free? Is this discussion something you’re passionate about? Comment below and share with your friends!
Also, while I do have issues with my inbox once in a while, I actually love getting reader emails. Who knows, your email might end up being a blog post on this blog, so feel free to contact me if you have any questions!