I spotted a thread on a discussion forum in my online travels recently that caught my eye. The subject was whether taking a freelance writing job that pays at an entry-level rate is a good idea or if doing so will hurt your career.
I have always been of the opinion that it’s better to be working than not doing so. My family enjoys eating and living indoors, so that’s a prime motivator for keeping busy. Simply because someone takes on a project that pays lower than they would normally accept doesn’t mean that they have done the one thing that is going to mess up their entire career.
I’ve never had someone who has hired me ask how much I charge other clients for my work. I don’t discuss my clients with each other, and I consider that the work that I do for them is confidential. In some cases, I have been asked to sign a non-disclosure agreement that prohibit me from discussing anything about the work that I do and my rates.
When someone is looking to hire a writer, I doubt they have time to follow up with the candidate’s previous clients to find out how much they were charged for their work. A client cares about getting their own work done. Period.
In the brick and mortar world, people generally start their working careers in entry-level positions. Over time as they get more experience, they move onto more lucrative work. The same thing happens for freelance writers. Taking an entry-level gig means you get some experience and some green in your pocket. During times when more lucrative work is lean, taking on something at the low end of your acceptable pay scale keeps your skills sharp and some money coming in.
If you are concerned about your lower-paying gigs appearing on your resume, do some editing. You don’t have to list each client you have ever worked for if you choose not to.
Getting back to the original question, I don’t think that you can hurt your career by taking a certain gig. If the subject about rates you used to charge ever comes up, you can explain that you have gained some experience and honed your skills since that point and now you charge $X.
What do you think? Can taking a low paying freelance writing job mean the Kiss of Death for your career?