Should you Take That Low Paying Contract?

It’s a poor existence, trying to write for a living. If it isn’t contractors expecting free samples, it is those that won’t pay more than $3 per hour but lament the poor English of previous applicants (I’m surprised it needs to be said that if you want native English speakers you should try offering a wage suitable enough to attracts those Brits, Americans, Canadians and Antipodeans). Yet in the last few months, I have found myself drawn to and accepting one or two contracts of very low pay.

The first was the now defunct Doctor Who Land. For its brief period on the web, it was a glossy and well-produced site. I was in a team of four writers and I must admit that the quality of the selection of articles was of a very high standard. I eagerly accepted on these grounds along with the promise (that the site admin delivered) that my name and link to my blog would go on every article that I contributed. Exposure is always great and could have led to a great pay-off had the site survived.

The second is an article I submitted a couple of days ago to what I can only describe as a “voices from around the globe” lifestyle magazine. The article is went up today and is here. They approached me on odesk being very upfront about the poor rate of pay but gave me creative freedom to write about anything I wanted on their theme: legends and folklore from my part of the world. The article (and I’m very proud of it) is about the various ghostly goings-on at Avebury Stone Circle. This world class monument, the largest stone circle in the world, is just ten miles away. The pub (if you believe in such things) is supposedly the most haunted in the country – if not the world.

Some of the stones and the haunted “Red Lion” pub
Copyright MG Mason

I took the job for a number of reasons:

  • My name is attached to the article which means exposure – easier to demonstrate as a sample and it goes in my portfolio
  • Creative freedom and the pleasure that gives me
  • An interesting job researching my local area and teaching others about where I live
  • Altruism: When I’m writing sales plans and landing pages, I expect to get paid well because these are for commercial reasons and the company expect to increase their market share or otherwise make a lot of money from my work. The feeling of taking these jobs and “doing it for the little guy” is a kind of satisfaction in itself

As far as I am concerned, there is nothing wrong with taking those low paying jobs so you perhaps shouldn’t dismiss them all out of hand. Of course we all have to start somewhere and sometimes there are rewards that go beyond the immediate financial.

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