Marketing Rant: Cheapening the Craft

Yes, gentle readers, there was a lost day this week. No posting occurred on QRW yesterday, but for good reason. Tales of that momentous occasion involving Chicago, exorbitant fees, and glorious new property, will be saved for another time.

But a lack of posting yesterday means a double whammy today. You get a two-for-one post, combining a bit of marketing maven discussion along with ranting goodness! And what is the topic that incurs this double trouble? Freelance writing ads, I’m looking at you.

In my two years of freelancing full time, I’ve experienced the ebbs and flows of the business. High times, low times, rich times, poor times. In the time of plenty, I’ve had clients coming at me left and right, the majority of which I turn into continual clients. In the time of not enough, I check with all my current clients, boost up my organic marketing efforts, and generally make myself as attractive as possible. But it doesn’t always cut it. And where does an erstwhile freelancer go then? Where anyone seeking a job goes: the want ads.

Freelancers and writers have the same options when it comes to those seeking full-time employment: Craig’s List, CareerBuilder, local publication ads, etc. And occasionally you can find some gems. But the majority of the time, when casting a hopeful eye through these sites, along with sites like Elance, Guru, and other bid sites, you find prices that are painfully low, and buyers that believe we’re getting what we deserve. Here’s a typical gem:

Content development firm hiring writers to write articles. The pay is $5.00 to $7.00 per 500 word article. This should be an easy gig for someone who knows what they’re doing.

Sucky pay, and patronizing tone? Sign me up!

This is nothing new, of course. It’s a trend that continues years and centuries of devaluing the written word, continuing the notion that anyone can write, that good writing is merely stringing some words together without spelling errors (or maybe with, who knows?), that writing as a profession is suspect and not worthy of respect. It encourages the egregious misuse of language, the mind-numbingly bad emails that require more time to decipher than to act on, the examples of piss-poor writing that you see everywhere.

One writer isn’t able to do much about this greater devaluating of writing, but by sticking to his or her principles and hourly rate he or she can slowly buck the trend. But that still leaves a quandary: what are our options when seeking some extra work? Is it worth the effort to sift through the penny-poor and belittling ads to find the few worthy options?

Occasionally, yes. I’ve actually found at least five clients through Craigslist, clients that were respectable, established, well-known companies, and clients that went on to give me scads of repeat work. They do exist, they’re out there, and they’re willing to pay proper rates for quality work.

They can be found by diligence, by maintaining your normal rates when quoting work, and by vetting the ads. Ignore the denigrators. Bypass the tiny pay rates, or the vague “work for exposure” offers. And of course – present yourself as someone worthy of the respect and pay. Write personal, tailored emails, and eye-grabbing subject lines. In short, persuade them by example, with a stellar, well-organized, well-written, and marketing-oriented message.

What do you think? Ever find success with writing ads? Think they’re a waste of time? Comment!

The QRW Makes a Schedule

I like knowing what to expect. Call me a creature of habit, but I like knowing that almost every Wednesday night I have date night with J, that Friday nights we’re probably going to order sushi, that Saturday afternoons we hit LaBamba for a burrito lunch and then go book shopping. Patterns and routines can be boring if you let them, and it may be surprising to see someone that enjoys being quietly rebelliousprofess a love for habit. But I find routine can be constantly made new and exciting, while still being comforting.

Same goes for my web reading and blog visiting. I like knowing what to expect. I like knowing, for example, that although the insights will change and tidbits differ, I will find something freelance friendly and helpful everyday at Freelance Switch or Freelance Folder. I will find snarkiness and feminist quirk aplenty at Jezebel. And the list goes on throughout my blogroll.

I want to offer that same sort of quiet joy and comfort to my readers here at QuietRebelWriter. My goal with this blog is to spark freelance success for writers and creativity for all, by showing ways to flout the rules and thereby enrich your life. I want to be on your daily reading list, zipping into your RSS reader through subscription and into your Firefox or Explorer. So I’m telling you what you can expect. I’m telling you now, clearly and decisively, with excitement and a little scaredy-cat flutterings, what you will find here, and when.

Need more background? Wondering where the hell you just landed? Here’s some help, and here, and here.

Quiet Rebel Writer List of Contents:

Monday: Mondays are tough: ease into the week with a Monday Date, using lyrics, excerpts, poems, scenes and more to break the block and get a creative kick.

Tuesday: Freelancing lifestyle, issues, frustrations and joys in Tuesday’s Freelance Frenzy. Plus, tune in for a handy link round-up. Some of the best and the brightest from the past week.

Wednesday: Live vicariously through my attempts to get that damn novel published in Publishing Aspirations, and learn about tips, resources, and more in your own efforts. Plus, find a book to add to your case with Books to Read.

Thursday: Marketing successes and failures in Marketing Maven. Read about the transcendent power of writing with Writers who Matter.

Friday: At the end of week, all restraint is gone. It’s time for a well-mannered Rant, plus the new crazy sweeping the nation (or at least my office): Word Porn.

Until tomorrow.

UPDATE March 14: Ah geez. So the first week of the schedule is done, and I biffed it. I missed a few promised postings. Stupid loft closing. It eats up some time to own a piece of Chicago, all 1600 sq ft of it. But at least you know my plan, dear readers. And I’ll do my best to stick to it. :)

The F Word Before Super Tuesday

Feminism is about something very simple: equal rights between men and women. But in today’s world, and in highly scrutinized presidential campaigns, it gets very complex very quickly. Take this week’s campaign developments. Earlier this week the New York chapter of the National Organization of Women threw a rather undignified fit, pissed that the Kennedys are endorsing Obama. They went so far as to label the endorsement an act of betrayal. Real right-thinking, women-supporting, NOW PAC-toting candidates would vote for a woman because she’s a woman, they contended, and anything else is unacceptable.

This is just ridiculous and wrong on so many levels. First off – sure, getting the Kennedys was a coup. But how is that related to the feminist cause? Just ‘cus Ted is a staunch leftist doesn’t mean he has a strong track record of supporting the old females in his personal life. With this guy, its all about the name, and association with the storied Camelot of yore.

More important is the assumption that good feminists must automatically vote for Hillary. Only with a woman will we get all our crucial issues of abortion rights, civil rights and general equity protected properly.  This is such a fascinating election in so many ways, not least of which is the ability to have this discussion in the first place. Heading into Super Tuesday, we’ve got the first “viable” woman candidate facing off against the first “realistic” African-American candidate. Yippee for us, right? Theoretically, we’ve grown up and into the new society we’ve always thought was possible. We’ve cast off the burkas of racism and sexism, and we’re all about the person inside. Right? But this kind of vitriol being exchanged between supporters (and the recent questionable volleys between the candidates’ camps) show we’ve still got major issues.

What it comes down to is this: equal rights between men and women means truly judging someone by effort, character, and merit. Gender, or race, or sexual orientation, is a secondary concern. Our votes are supposed to be carefully made, taking into account an entire range of ideas and past history. We’re supposed to consider who will be best for the country, in the context of this clusterfuck of international relations and quagmire of domestic issues. We shouldn’t blindly choose based on anything, whether it be party, or gender.

I’ve considered the two candidates as candidates, as people, as leaders. I’ve made my choice. And I feel like I still can keep my storied Feminist membership card after I vote for Obama.

Thoughts? Talk amongst yourselves.

A Total Cliche

The life of writer should focus on ridding the world of cliches. Eliminating all those tired phrases and cringe-worthy crutches. Infusing the world around us with the new, the creative, the fresh. But think about how many cliches still exist about the life of a writer, or the process of writing. My favorite? Read short or long biographies about established authors and you’re bound to find some reference to how their characters took on a life of their own. Without fail, some author will describe how, during the writing process, their characters moved in unexpected directions and developed their own worlds, separate of what the author intended. The literary persons jump off the pages into flesh-and-blood people, “It’s Alive!” style, dragging their devoted writers, relegated to simple describers, along for the ride.

As a younger writer, I kept waiting for that magical process to happen. Result – I didn’t plan enough, waiting for inspiration and supernatural creation to take over. I’d always get stuck and never finish my stories. So I stopped waiting. Over the four years it took to create my novel (unpublished y’all – waiting for that particular version of magic to strike), there was no lightning from on high that made my characters Frankenstein-monster-like entities. What did happen was a lot of hard work, a lot of planning and replotting and revising and rethinking and re-everything. There were surprises that came from problem solving and reworking. But it all came from that weird stew that is my noggin.  Writing can be magical in many ways, and the resulting read ideally even more so. But I feel a snarl coming on every time I hear tired cliches about the processes that occur during writing.

What about you? What writing cliches drive you nutty?