Friday, August 13, 2010

50 Reasons Writing Online Pays Better Than Regular Jobs or Print

There is no shortage of people who will tell you that writing for money on the Internet is a scam, sweatshop labor, unprincipled, selling out to The Man, and undervaluing yourself.  That's one way to look at it, I guess.  But I look at it differently.  Before I tell you the fifty reasons I think writing online is the greatest opportunity for people to earn money in a century, I have to qualify it:  It's not all perfect.

The potential for earning money by writing online is nearly limitless, but the reality is dampening.  "You mean I'm not going to get paid the mega big bucks?"  "That's all an Internet writer who works for himself makes?"  You can earn a lot writing online, but as it happens, most don't.  I'd hazard that even most of those who are succeeding at it don't earn wages comparable to a teacher's salary.  The pay tends to be either slow and steady if you're earning by revenue sharing, or fast and furious if you're writing for hire and need lots of money.  There aren't as many big gigs available as there are micro-gigs - gigs that you do in quantity and that add up.  It's not a get rich quick scheme.  (Though I do think over the years you can do very well.)

Furthermore, you have to pay self-employment taxes.  You may not have any health insurance.  And no matter what anyone will tell you, it's not passive income; it takes far more maintenance than income from book royalties.  Working for yourself presents a number of challenges, there's no doubt about it.  It can take a year or two or three to get to the stage where you're earning enough to get by on and you can quit your regular job or reduce your hours.

But that's not the whole story.  Nowhere near.  That's the voice of a vanishing old economic model raising a cry of protest and unreadiness in the face of a strange and unfamiliar new economic model.  Those cautions only sound reasonable because we've all gotten used to the idea that the odds of succeeding in writing are fifty thousand to one, and that the rewards have to be correspondingly astronomical.  But the times, they're a'changing.

To read more about why I believe they're changing, see my article on why making money by writing online isn't going away.

So I think writing online is worth it, and I'll tell you 50 reasons why.  And I'm only stopping at 50 because it's a nice, round number.  If you want the short version, most of the reasons add up to two things:
  • You have fewer expenses.
  • Your quality of life improves.
50 Reasons That Writing Online Rocks
  1. There are at least as many ways to earn money online as in the print world.  On the Internet, you can choose the ones that suit you, for the most part. In the print world, you take whatever you can get.
  2. You don't have to suck up to a boss under fear of being squashed like a bug 'cause a boss can make your work life hell or give you a bad reference - if she doesn't decide to fire your tush.  This means less stress.  Less stress means less compulsive spending on de-stressing things like junk food, books on how to find your inner child, and pedicures.
  3. You don't have to play work politics every day and smile if you're feeling crappy or pretend you don't hear them maligning your religion. Less stress.  (Let's just call it LS from now on, okay?)
  4. You don't have to work with coworkers you don't like.  LS.
  5. You don't have to buy noise reducing earbuds to block out the chatty coworker in the next cubicle just so you can focus.  Or, if you are that chatty coworker, you can make all the noise you want, blast music, whatever you need in order to work.  You control the noise level of your work environment.
  6. You don't have a daily quota to meet.  Yes, you need to make enough money.  But how much you work on any given day is up to you. LS.
  7. You don't have to go to work when there's nothing to do and sit there frustrated, twiddling your thumbs and wishing you could take comp time now because you know you'll have to work overtime during the busy season.  If there's no work, you don't work.  Way more efficient.
  8. You don't have to buy coworkers presents or make casseroles for birthday luncheons.
  9. You don't have to feel guilty for taking long breaks.
  10. There's no need to keep a tally of how much time you need to make up because you were five minutes late twice this week.
  11. No traffic.  LS.
  12. You sleep better.  No leaping out of bed and dressing in five minutes to make the bus or beat the traffic when your alarm clock doesn't go off.
  13. You don't have to work when you're sick, so you get well faster and have less to catch up on. And because you stay home, you don't spread the germs to everyone at work and cause the office to be shorthanded and ultimately have to work harder to play catch-up, and deal with the "too many sick days" comments on job evaluations, and feel horribly guilty for not being at work every hour you're scheduled.
  14. You can work at night if you're a night owl.  Your schedule accommodates your personal peak energy times and your down times.
  15. You can work in the home office, the kitchen, the bathroom, the bedroom, the Starbucks, at your mother-in-law's house, or on the lawn if you want to.
  16. You can pop off to go running, walking, swimming, or whatever exercise takes your fancy at any time.
  17. You don't have to spend hours commuting every day.  (If you factor in commuting time to the hours you work in traditional jobs, you'll find your pay per hour is a lot lower than you thought.)
  18. You don't usually have to do bookkeeping.  It's done for you automatically, online.
  19. Reporting taxes as a self-employed online writer is somewhat easier than as a self-employed published-in-print writer.  There's no scrambling to find those writer's conference receipts you shoved in a drawer somewhere, exhausted, and forgot. 
  20. You don't have to pay for daycare for your kids. 
  21. You don't have to pay for pet sitters.
  22. You don't have to pay for an exotic alarm system for your home, because you're always there, defending it mightily.
  23. You don't have to buy McBreakfasts on the way to work, shell out money for $oup, $alad and $andwiches for lunch, or buy boxes of Oreo cookies to eat for dinner while you work overtime.
  24. On the other hand, if you want to eat boxes of Oreo cookies at your desk, there's no nosy busybody coworker to tell you you're eating too many fat grams and refined sugar.
  25. If you work overtime, you get rewarded.  Unlike salaries, more work equals more pay.
  26. Schmoozing is much cheaper, with almost no out of pocket expense.  You don't have to pay for writer's conference registration fees, hotel fees, restaurant meals, and transportation fees, because you don't go to them.  You pay instead with your time when you do social networking.  Seriously, you can never go in debt with that kind of outlay.
  27. You don't have to pay for the three "p's" of writing submissions to traditional markets:  postage, paper and printer.
  28. You don't have to pay for an expensive wardrobe.  A robe is fine; no "ward" necessary.
  29. You don't have to pay for expensive haircuts and other beauty treatments.  Your cat doesn't care.
  30. You don't have to shower every day.  So your soap, deodorant, shampoo, and lotion expenses diminish greatly (and the people you live with give you a nice, comfortable wide berth.)
  31. You don't have to pay for gas or bus or train fare.  (At least, not on work's behalf.)
  32. You don't have to pay for car insurance. (Again, you might use your car, but it's not work that's making you do it, anymore.)
  33. You don't have to live in an expensive city.  You can live in a less expensive, and roomier, home in an outlying area. 
  34. You don't have to get a higher degree to certify you.
  35. You can start over with a clean slate if there are blots on your career.  A bad reference, a bad former job experience, a long period of disability...these won't cripple your new career.  You can reinvent yourself.
  36. You can write on subjects that interest you - at least, to some degree.  You'll still have to do some writing that's not the great American novel, but you don't have to write a boring technical manual if you don't want to.
  37. You can go big or small.  You can do small projects that take only a few minutes or a couple of hours or take on long term projects that go on for months.  It's your call.  
  38. If you're earning by revenue share, you effectively get paid vacations and days off.
  39. You get rewards throughout the day: you see your small successes and your earnings, and they motivate you.
  40. If your working arrangement needs changing - say your desk needs to be moved - you can fix it without going through official approval channels, multiple committee meetings, and heated office politics.  LS.
  41. You eat healthier at home than at work. (Though this one depends on a lot of things.  But in principle, if you have more control over what you eat and where you buy it, then you can eat more healthfully.)
  42. You don't have to go on interviews to get jobs or gigs. (Well, not if you don't want to.  Jobs through oDesk and eLance and Guru and the rest may involve interviews with potential clients, but they're usually in the comfort of your own home, and at your convenience, and not half as stressful.)
  43. You don't have to spend time writing query letters or keeping track of submissions.
  44. You don't have to wait on your manuscript for months or even a year until you hear from the editor you submitted it to, only to find out you were using outdated submission guidelines ("Yes, the latest market listing said we were accepting unsolicited submissions, but that was then - now we're only accepting agented material.") 
  45. If your work gets rejected, or you're not making enough money, or you're running into problems, you can complain about it to, and get support from, others who are in the same boat.  In fact, no writer's conference or work lounge can compare to the 24/7 support network available to online writers.
  46. Your success is based on how good you are and how hard you work, with a dollop of luck, and virtually no cash investment.   For the last several decades, for a writer wanting to be published in traditional print, success was based on how much money was available for networking, how good the writer was at schmoozing, her intuition but also her luck in entering a market just when they were looking for exactly what she was offering, her stubborn persistence in submitting again and again and again and again and again...and a dollop of how talented she was and how hard she worked.
  47. You're nicer to your family because you're less stressed.
  48. You feel more in control of your own destiny.
  49. You feel that there's hope, instead of the frustration of banging your head against a wall.
  50. And best of all:  "Work" is no longer an ugly word.  "I'm working" means everything from "Shh, I'm writing an article" to "I'll be with you in a sec, I'm just doing a little research'" to "I'm trying to learn about keywords, this is really interesting" to "That's hilarious!  What?  Oh, it's the writer's forum" to "I'm chatting with an editor, she's actually from my hometown" to "I'm not doing much, sleepy now, just browsing jobs" to "I'm not shopping, I'm doing research - ooh, that's pretty" to "What's another word for 'infiltrate' - what's that, sweetheart?  You've got a booger?  Here, wipe your nose with a tissue."  Work doesn't take over life.  It is living.

Copyright Nerd Writer Mom

1 comment:

Michael Elkins said...

"You don't have to pay for an expensive wardrobe. A robe is fine; no "ward" necessary."

lol at this one... no "psych"ward necessary.