Friday, April 24, 2009

Lunching with a soon-to-be freelancer?

I met my very first editor for lunch today. He was in charge of my local community weekly when I graduated from college back in 1991. I made $13,000 that first year working for him as a sports, crime, obituary and features writer. The money was awful, but I did learn how to interview sources, research stories and write an effective lede.

I've moved on to mostly freelance writing these days. But my former editor is still banging away at community newspapers. It's a job he's always loved.

Unfortunately, he's worried he may not have this job much longer. So as we both munched on egg rolls and fried rice, he picked my brains about the freelancing life.

I told my editor, and now friend, that it's not an easy job these days. Print clients are drying up every day. Others are paying $400 for stories that last year they paid me $700. It's a drag.

Online writing is especially tough, I told him. You have to sacrifice a lot of style if you want to really make money. The key for writing for the content sites or blogging networks is to write a lot of stuff really fast. It often doesn't even have to be all that well-written.

This news depressed him. And, I gotta' admit, it made me a bit glum to be telling it to him. I told him about my forays into content and blog writing. I told him that I hope that one day this writing will be more lucrative, but that for now it's mostly grind, grind, grind with little reward.

Still, it is writing. And not many people can support themselves by writing. That is a positive. And I'm also hoping that we have reached the bottom of this economy. Perhaps the publishing industry will begin a slow recovery soon. If that happens, who knows, maybe my print clients will come back.

We skipped the sweets after lunch, by the way. No one was in the mood to break $10 for our meals.

No comments:

Post a Comment