Why I quit writing for a living

It’s true. I quit doing freelance writing for a living. Keep in mind that I was what most considered to be a “bottom feeder” – I lacked the sales skills to talk my way into $200 and $400 writing assignments (or accepted article pitches) for bigger companies.

Why did I quit writing?

Firstly, maybe quitting isn’t the right word. I just stopped looking for new clients as the old ones moved on to cheaper providers. If someone had to call on me with a request to write blog posts, SEO copy product descriptions, or even an ebook, I’d be open to discussing it.

I have however stopped asking people for work. I also stopped looking for new clients.

And here are my reasons for quitting freelance writing:

1. Everything is about the price.

My clients can get people from India or the Pillippines to write for cheaper than I do, so why would they be willing to pay my (modest, compared to others) fee?

I often wonder if the same people would ever walk into a Toyota showroom, demanding the price be dropped because they can get “the same” car from China for cheaper.

In fact, I lost the last of my clients because he expected a significant (additional) drop in my rate, when I was already working for him for less than my normal fee. Effectively, I would be working for less than a third of what 15 year olds are paid to work at McDonalds in the U.S.

I declined, and he left.

2. Clients don’t care how much of your time they waste.

Clients forget that, when you take into account that you either have to pay for advertising, or work to generate new clients. Either way, some of your time (or income from time worked) will go towards client acquisition.

My freelance writing clients also tend to forget that, in many cases, a lot of time is wasted sending emails back and forth to clear up vague instructions. Simply following those vague instructions would simply have them reject the article – which I had a few times.

One client, for instance, would simply send me a keyword and a vague topic (like “Facebook marketing”). When he didn’t like what I wrote, he would simply tell me to chuck it out and write something else on the topic.

3. Grammarly.

Yes, it’s true. Now that Grammarly is freely available, every Tom, Dick, Harry, his dog, his cat and his pet rock want to write. Or rather, they now believe that they can.

Unfortunately for people like me, the are willing to do it quite a bit cheaper than I can. Not that my services were expensive to begin with, but now that the barrier to entry is so low…

Anyone can write. And believe me, after the hardships brought upon us by the pandemic, there are many who can do with the additional income. Between the pandemic and Grammarly, we have a lot more freelance writers in the marketplace, and fewer clients than we had in a long time.

The result?

Lower fees.

By the way, Grammarly is good. It’s not foolproof (I came across a few mistakes it made), but it’s better than most freelance writers used to be.

In conclusion:

At the end of the day, any job you do, freelance or employed, comes down to how much you need to live. If the math doesn’t work, it doesn’t. It’s as simple as that.

Also…

Before you ever insult a writer by offering a fee that (including emails and client acquisition) boils down to less than the minimum wage where you live…

Ask yourself this:

Is it reasonable to expect that?

If you feel it is, or if you feel you simply cannot afford to pay more…

Go and sign up for Grammarly (it’s free) and do your own writing.

At the very least you will save someone the humiliation of having to work for slave wages.