I just had the most wonderful day at the BlogWorld and New Media Expo talking to freelance writers from around the country. This is the first year I met so many people who were actually looking to break into writing in addition to blogging. I also met quite a few veteran writes with impressive backgrounds. We discussed so many issues and topics of interest to freelance writers today. The most interesting conversation we had was when we discussed a “livable wage.”
Before I get into my opinion of a livable wage, I’d like to say the discussions we had were always congenial. They were also respectful. I wondered why things get out of hand during blogosphere debates. Is it because of the anonymity? Is it because when words are written instead of spoken they’re left up there forever for people to twist to their benefit? It left me with interesting food for thought.
So …a livable wage.
When I first started doing this, I posted all the jobs I came across on a regular basis. After a few weeks it occurred to me that some of them didn’t pay a livable wage. You can’t support yourself on $5 an hour. I wanted to only post jobs paying a wage writers can use to support themselves. I thought about it long and hard. I settled on $10 an hour because I felt that writers can support themselves on $10 an hour. Now, I’m not talking about a desirable wage. I’m not talking about what each writer feels he’s worth. I’m talking about a wage a writer can use to support himself. $10 is above minimum wage.
Of course there are those writers who feel their time or words is worth more that that. That’s fine. My goal for this post isn’t to discuss levels of writing. It’s not to discuss rate increases or the worth of a certain piece of writing. It’s not to discuss the types of writing. It’s to discuss the definition of a livable wage. For example, some writers say $15 isn’t a livable wage. During my discussion yesterday, one former New York Time journalist said he’s making roughly about $12 an hour as a writer for a local newspaper. He supports himself fine even after taxes. I met an editor for a technical writing firm who earns $14 an hour. They both felt they made livable wages. Did they want to earn more? Absolutely. Could they support themselves? Yes. Thus, a livable wage. They paid the rent, they paid their taxes, they put food on the table and more. A livable wage.
Now, and again we’re talking about a livable wage, it’s up to each individual writer to determine what his writing is worth. Sometimes though, there’s nothing wrong with taking a job paying a livable wage if it pays the bills. Sometimes a job paying a livable wage means the difference between food on the table or the welfare line. $50 an hour is more than a livable wage. It’s what many writers would like to be paid. It’s a desireable wage. A livable wage is the lowest you can go and still put food on your table and pay the bills each month. What I strive to do here is to bring jobs paying at least a livable wage. Not everyone approves of the lower paying jobs. However, as long as I know there are options keeping folks afloat in rough times, I’ll post them here. We all want the desirable wage, sometimes though,we have to take the livable wage.
I’m not going to pretend writers aren’t going to take the lower paying jobs and I’m not going to insult them for their choices. I will continue to post jobs for ALL levels of writing , from those paying a livable wage to those on a higher end. As writers we make our on decisions, but in this economy we can’t knock others for doing what they have to, heck, what they WANT to in order to make a living.
A livable wage – what’s your definition? Again, this isn’t about a desireable wage. What do you feel is a livable wage?