An independent writer told me recently her day rate is $500, and she won’t leave the house if she can’t get that rate. “How much business do you have?” I asked. “Actually, none,” she replied.
Like the AT&T TV commercial with the guy sitting at the little school table with the cute kids says, “It’s not complicated.” In my mind, working for less than a preferred rate beats sitting at home watching the soaps.
Then again, there are limits. A sports writer contacted me recently and asked if I had any openings. A newspaper in Iowa, he told me, called and asked him to cover a golfer from Iowa in the U.S. Open. They wanted a 15-inch story and a photo and offered to pay $75. Math was never a strong suit, but I wonder what that hourly rate would work out to after expenses. Think of it this way … he would have had to pay for gas to get to the course, pay to park, spend all day on the course, buy lunch, buy a bottle of water, ask some questions in the interview tent, drive home (more gas), write and file the story and photo.
That seems to sum up the problem in trying to write for almost any publication. Their budgets for contract writing, if they exist at all, are terribly low. I’m finding more success doing public relations writing, business-to-business writing and book editing than writing for consumer or trade magazines.
A script I wrote for a PR agency is being used in Holland this week. I’ll present half of a book editing project on Friday. I’ll deliver a capabilities statement to a consulting firm in Northern Virginia this week or first of next. And I need to start building a media list for a PR proposal it looks like I’m going to get in Texas. Finally, with any luck, I’ll file two stories to Mother Nature Network and CNN this week.
What about you? Where are you finding traction with contract writing? B-2-B or B-2-C? Or, is an inflexible day rate keeping you home watching TV?