The really crap thing about being the wrong side of 40 is that you start to fret about all the stuff you thought you’d do ‘one day’, and haven’t done.
Ok. Scrap that. Deep breath, because today I am going to be POSITIVE.
The really great thing about being the right side of 40 is that you start to think ‘Ok, well, if I’m going to do it one day, that one day might as well be now’. So a few weeks ago I tidied up the ‘about me’ page on my blog, added the words freelance writer (ha!) to my linked in profile, and started putting feelers out to see if I could find projects that would allow me to stretch my wings and learn, whilst at the same time earning me some extra cash for the kids’ Christmas presents.
I did quite quickly get asked to write a very short piece for a ‘new community magazine’, which I took to mean a locally created publication, perhaps a spinoff from one of the hyperlocal blogs in the area. So I wrote it and sent it off, and was dead chuffed when they came back and said they liked it and would be using it. I didn’t ask for any money, mostly because I’d assumed the magazine was a labour of love for someone.
I was even more chuffed to receive an email this week saying ‘The editor really liked your article, would you like to contribute something to the December issue, perhaps on Christmas?’ Wow! Brilliant, I thought, and had already started to put something together in my head.
I wanted to know a bit more about the magazine, so I scrolled all the way down to the bottom of the email chain to the very first message I’d received, and googled the signature details, which as it turned out weren’t particularly local at all – ‘Hibu (UK) Ltd, One Reading Central’ – until recently the business known as Yell.
I don’t have any issues with the fact that the magazine is probably a directory rather than a community magazine – any experience is good experience, and also it’s down to me and nobody else that I didn’t do my homework the first time round. BUT I figured that since the magazine was published by a commercial business, with a pre-tax profit of £369 million, it would not be unreasonable for me to ask for some financial recompense for any further contributions. So I sent the following email:
I’m glad the article went down well and I’d like to continue contributing – as a Mum Christmas is certainly on my mind so happy to do something around that for you.
I gather the going rate is £50 per 500 words, would this be acceptable?
I wasn’t expecting anything near the going rate, but I figured it was a good way to open the money conversation. However it was to be a short lived conversation, as I very quickly received the reply:
That would be great. Unfortunately I don’t have a writer’s budget for the magazine. Sorry about that – understand if that means you’d rather write for somewhere that was paying.
I’m not sure how I feel about this. I know all experience is good experience, and I know I am trying to get somewhere in a crowded profession. And I know I’m not that good yet, but I am clearly good enough for what the magazine/directory/whatever needs. I also know that the editor will be paid, the sales people will be paid, the layout people will be paid and so will the shareholders of this multi-national corporation.
I need some guidance on this, people. Should I climb out of my own backside, write stuff for free (to be fair what they want from me is not anything taxing, and they are happy for me to post the articles on LearnerMother after publication). Or should I try and place a value on my efforts, however small?
Please be frank!