Freelance Writers: Are You Just Going Through the Motions?

keyboard and screen

Here’s a discussion topic to keep you busy until I list the next round of markets.

I just had an interesting Skype chat with a friend of mine who also happens to be a former client. He hires many freelance writers each year, and pays them very well, especially by some of today’s web writing standards. He’s frustrated with the lack of effort put forth by many of his freelance writers. He’s not the only one either. I’ve heard from others who hire freelancers that the freelancing craze is producing some lazy or lackluster writers.

I’ve been quoted as saying that you can pay a writer a million dollars, but that doesn’t mean he’ll match your passion, and it’s true. I’ve hired many writers and at least half of them put forth a very bare bones effort. My sites and blogs are my passion, for writers, they’re a job. I can’t pay anyone enough to match my own enthusiasm.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t expect freelance writers to do enthusiastic work if they’re not adequately compensated. If you’re only getting $10 for an article, you shouldn’t be expected to get out and promote the piece or do major research. However, if a writer signed a contract to do XXX amount of work for XXX amount of writing (and yes, an email saying “yes” is just as good as a contract), that writer should be expected to do what he promised. Moreover, if said writer was hired for a perky or authoritative voice and the client is just getting enough antiseptic copy to meet his word count, the writer isn’t delivering as promised.

So this is something I thought I’d toss up for discussion..

Do you put your passion into everything you write – regardless of payment and client?

The way I feel, is that I don’t want to put my name on any client project without giving it my best effort because it’s like a resume. Clients gauge my writing as a way to see if they should offer other gigs. They use their experience with me for recommendations and references, and potential clients use my past work as a way to decide if they want to hire me. So I do my best to give my clients everything they hired me for – and more, even if the pay is just OK.

Tell us about your writing.

How do you view your writing? Do you ever find yourself going through the motions for your clients. What, besides money, inspires passion in your writing?


9 responses
  1. Charlene Avatar

    Once I sign a contract I feel obligated to provide everything to my customer that I signed on for. I have a tendency to provide more to my client in terms of research and information written into a piece.

    As for passion, that comes through in my writing at a stronger level when I’m writing about something I personally feel passionate about. But, when researching for a client I often find a small part that sparks additional interest in me. Interestingly enough, I’m not passionate about making money – just getting paid is not enough to spark passion in me.

    I will admit that writing about accounting, finance and economic issues does not thrill me…I can do it, but it’s not my favorite writing. So, I would try to get permission from my client to add a bit of extra to the piece (which means I find something fun for me to write about within the context of accounting, finance and economics).

    The only reason I can see for lazy freelancers is that they are new to the field and don’t understand the term “repeat business = repeat payment”. Which means they won’t last long in the field.

    I completely agree with you about the quality of writing for my clients. My name is on that piece, whether my name is printed with it or not. It is a piece that I can point to when talking to potential clients. Therefore, I want my writing to always be the best I can provide for my client.
    .-= Charlene´s last blog ..Social Media and Animal Shelters? =-.

  2. allena Avatar

    “Asked for?” Yes.
    “And more?” Depends on the client 😉

    Funny, though, it DOESN’T depend on the pay. I get to write in areas about which I am passionate, so that’s helpful.
    .-= allena´s last blog ..Forum Updated! Freelance Writing Jobs Posted in There! =-.

  3. Jodee Avatar

    “Do you put your passion into everything you write – regardless of payment and client?”

    Yes, I do. The people who I work with are paying me for my best effort, and that’s what they get. If I wouldn’t be proud to put my name on it, then it doesn’t get turned in.
    .-= Jodee´s last blog ..Are You Waiting for Your Dream Job to Come? =-.

  4. Sara Avatar

    Anything I write is now attached to me permanently, but equally/more important, my client’s success is my success. If I care about their looking good to their boss and clients, they’re going to use me again. Which is a win-win. (And this could explain why nearly all my clients end up friends, as well.)

  5. CeciAnn Avatar

    Are the clients doing research before hiring the writer? Or are they falling for the clever marketing pitch? Hiring an actual writer with a proven track record isn’t that difficult. Checking a writer’s personal blogs will give you an idea about favored writing styles, for instance. That is, after all, what the writer is doing for free.

    Some “writers” are in love with the label, not the work. In college, for instance, I was passed over for a coveted position on the college newspaper by a smooth young man placed in contention by the fraternity machine intent on taking over. The candidate had zero interest in the position, he was simply doing the bidding of his masters. I was a journalism major and had worked for the newspaper. I was a writer, though, not a b.s. artist. Not then anyway.

    I lost the position. And a short time later, the young man resigned the post. He didn’t want it, he had never wanted it. He had no idea what to do with it when he got it. He had no experience, had done nothing in the journalism business prior to interviewing for the post. He was simply a smooth talker.

    Do your research before hiring. It only takes a small amount of time. And a smidgen of common sense.

  6. Jules - Big Girl Bombshell Avatar

    Good Article. I have wanted to do freelance writing for a long time and I am now taking the steps to start. Good subject matter, inspires me. Pushing myself outside my comfort zone to produce something better than I probably would write for myself.
    My writing is an extension of who I am.
    As this is all new to me and I have worked on my writing confidence and my grammar structure diligently as I head for this new endeavor. I don’t believe that I could ever just go through the motions for a client because of the importance I have for words and writing.
    .-= Jules – Big Girl Bombshell´s last blog ..In Search of Serenity =-.

  7. Prerna Avatar

    Great post, Deb! I’m passionate about writing and even though web writing is something that I’m still learning, I treat every assignment with the same rigor and effort that I would devote to a print article. And usually, it shows when clients keep coming back:-)
    .-= Prerna´s last blog ..Book Review: Spiritual Parenting by Gopika Kapoor =-.

  8. Lindsay Avatar

    This is such a pet peeve of mine… I think that there are many people who are in love with the *idea* of being a freelance writer, and they give the rest of us a bad name. My decision to go freelance was ten years in the making, and when I took the plunge I was very, very sure about what I wanted to do, who I wanted to do it for, and how I would differentiate myself in the market by delivering what my clients want and need. A big part of that is knowing how to provide great service and really jumping in and caring about my clients’ business. Those who aren’t willing to take those simple extra steps quite simply won’t last long. And good riddance, in my opinion. I’d much rather complete for new work with an equal adversary – it keeps us all on our toes, and working to become better and better at what we do.

  9. Nancy Morgan Avatar

    I will not take a writing project unless I can give it 100% of my time, and 150% passion, regardless if writing, copy editing or proofreading.

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