let me preface this rant by saying i am forever grateful for freelance work. really and truly i am. and, for the most part i enjoy the work. for our little local magazine i interview business people and write stories about them. it's basically an advertorial, but i could seriously write these things in my sleep as this type of thing is something i've been doing for decades. because it is easy and right in my hood and the pay is fine. it's low, but fine.
a custom publisher i've interviewed w/ twice (and they hired from w/in both times) sends some work my way once in awhile. fact checking and writing stories. some of the stories are out of my comfort zone (financial) but i get by. and the pay is pretty decent.
a marketing company i've been working for off and on for years also pays well but the work comes in spurts and it's mostly press releases. boring.
so...i troll around the interwebs and local publishing companies looking for freelance jobs all the time. there are two local pubs that i've been emailing back and forth. same owner, same exact type of magazine (you have them in your town, those family/women's magazines printed on newsprint w/ a glossy cover and it's all about local businesses, fluff stuff and they're free in doctor's offices, grocery stores, etc.) so anyway....they pay for shit. seriously.
i have one assignment from them so far. $40 to write a 500-700 word story (that right there is cheap! cheap!) but, if i can do it over the phone i could knock it out pretty quickly. the subject (who i'm still trying to pin down for a day and time to interview and have been doing so for more than a week) wants me to come to her office which is at least 30 mins away. really? so i'm really not to pleased about this at all but i said i'd do it and i will.
today i get an email from the chick at the magazine w/ the editorial calendars for next year. she says to look over them and let her know what i'd be interested in writing. it's like shopping or picking out things on a menu. ok, i can handle that. so i email her back w/ a dozen or more things i found interesting. then she emails me back and says, well, the cover stories are off limits because they have a person they've used for years who does that, ok. and for the other stories? she wants me to come up w/ the ideas for them, basically pitch her story ideas based on the lose references she has on her edit calendar. really? for $40 you not only want me to come up with the story ideas and contacts/references and go far and wide to interview/work on these stories and then write 500-700 words on it? wow.
folks, i'm not saying i'm too good for this work or that i probably won't do some of it, but....that's asking a lot of a person for $40.
*i wrote this draft the other day when i was pissed off. since then i am convinced these $40-paying people are insane. a friend of mine sent an email to several people asking what she should charge a person to interview them and write their 500 word bio for their website. i suggested $100 and everyone on the email said that was lowballing. they would charge $300, at least. wow.