Blog for Stephanie Bryant, a writer with too many hobbies and not enough time.

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Where am I going with all this?

This past week, I’ve launched into what can only be described as “acts of desperation common to nearly all writers and artists.” In other words, I’ve been lowering the bar substatially on what I consider “my job.”

You see, I typically view my job as being something that involves stringing words together into sentences that explain or teach a person how to do a task, usually technical in nature, and how to do it safely.

Lately, however, I would like to say I have burnout, but that’s not the case. No, I don’t have burnout. I have no job. No work. Not since the end of September, really. And the work that I had before that, while paid, did not fall into the above description. Rather, my job was to teach a computer how to do a task, or to give a person the programming tools to do a task. It’s not my favorite kind of work. I can do it, but it’s a bit like being a schoolteacher and having to write lesson plans for your substitute. It’s the least favorite task in my job description.

In October, after parting ways with the previous job, I found myself without further full time employment. Which was good, in a way, because I needed to do a few personal things, take a trip to Boston, do a couple of speaking engagements, and so forth. Unfortunately, I got sick in Boston– horribly, horribly sick, and my speaking engagements suffered as a result. I didn’t slow down until 10 days after my trip, when I managed to pull a muscle or crack a rib or something– anyway, it hurt a lot when I breathed or coughed. Sneezing is still a lesson on agony.

Which brings me to why, come December 1, I still didn’t have employment. When I say “employment” I don’t mean a 9-5 job where I drive an hour to get to work and an hour back. I know myself well enough now to know that there’s little value in having me sit in traffic for 10 hours a week. But something, a contract or job or writing gig that would help pay the mortgage this month and maybe help me afford the Christmas presents I’ve already mailed out.

Thus, this week I found myself looking at all the other ways a writer can make money. These days, writing jobs seem to fall into a few categories:

  • Write on spec. You write a story or article or novel, then send it out to publishers to see if they want it.
  • Freelance on contract. You arrange with the publisher before you write it, but you don’t get paid until they take it.
  • Blogging. Two payment schemes here. You get paid a tiny fraction of the ad revenue from the blog marketing company’s profits. Or, you get paid $10 to write 50 articles of 500 words apiece, at a rate of .04 cents a word. (For those playing along at home, a low paying writing gig pays 1-2 cents/word. I typically make 50-90 cents/word for technical documentation)
  • Forum posts. They don’t actually want you to write forum posts. They want you to write a sentence and include a link to their scammer website. How do I know this? I run forums and know that 90% of the posts in an unmoderated forum are from people trying to scam you.
  • Self-publishing. Either they want you to self-publish with them, and they’re not honest enough to say so, or they got this “great” self-publishing deal and want you to write their book for them.
  • Academic dishonesty. Oh, how often do I see “Write a 500 word essay on either Thomas Hardy or Nathaniel Hawthorne in literary criticism.” Seriously. It makes me downright ill to see these posts. Especially since they’re not offering much money, and even if the money were good, would I really believe someone who is willing to cheat at school is going to be willing to actually pay me? I don’t think so.

So, I decided that I didn’t like the options available, and I was having trouble managing all my blogs. So, I decided to make this “mega-blog” and throw a few ads onto it, just for kicks. So far, I’ve made 38 cents from ad impressions. Which I believe, in the economy of the internet writing jobs, is worth 950 words. Since this post is only 779, I guess I owe you 171 words before nightfall.

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