For the heck of it

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Freelance Writing: Always Ensure That You Get Paid for Your Services

Though I have a full-time, I have also been into a freelance writing gig for quite sometime now. Three good reasons for doing so:
  • Extra income does help. I can earn more by using my free time (including weekends).
  • I don't have to limit myself to writing about technology. I can try my hands on different styles of writing: lifestyle, trade, industry, travel, case studies, press releases, and so on.
  • I can build my portfolio and my contact list, which will be of help when I plan to switch companies.
Though the money has been good so far, I have also learned one thing. Every freelance gig comes with its share of risks. While most companies I have freelanced for, have been good paymasters, there are some shameless firms, who have either refused to pay me (even though they have used / published content developed by me), or haven't paid me for months (they keep telling me that my cheque has been sent to the head office for approval).

Then there are some who want me to write a sample article for FREE. They say, "Can you write a sample article for us? If we like it, we will publish it and then you can start writing for us regularly for a fee." I have been here too. Some months ago, I sent a FREE article to one of these magazines. I was hoping that if my article got published, they would send me requests for paid articles. Well, turns out that my article did get published, and I haven't heard from them since.

And there are some who say, "This a low paying job. But if we like what you write, we will double the money on the next assignment." While there are some publishers who have such a plan in place, there are many who don't and won't.

Here are some things you need to take note of, before taking up a freelance gig:
  1. Writing an article involves time and effort. So, ensure that you are getting paid for the your time and effort invested.
  2. Never respond to queries such as "Write an article for us and we will pay you if it gets published." Usually, these companies collect as many samples as possible, sell it to publishing companies and make money.
  3. Don't fall for schemes such as "Low paying job. Will increase money on the next assignment." If the company likes your article, there isn't any reason why you shouldn't be demanding the right price for it.
  4. Follow up on your payments. If you don't, the content buyer might just take you for a ride.
  5. Insist everything in writing. Don't rely on verbal contracts. It's better if you can convince the content buyer to provide you a small percentage (usually 30%) of the agreed number as an advance, with the remaining amount being paid on completion of the project.
Remember - you aren't investing your time, skills and efforts for charity.



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