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How much can I earn while building my platform?


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#1 mwsinclair

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Posted 01 August 2012 - 11:32 AM

Well, that's a difficult if not impossible question to answer if the goal is a specific dollar amount. In my freelance, I earn a couple thousand bucks a year at best, but I'm writing small stuff -- profiles, occasional news pieces. And that's not counting the occasional editing pieces. Not enough for all the things I plan to purchse.

The key to answering this question, however, is my point in asking it. Writers: know your markets!

What can you earn in your field? What your market says you can. And probably not a lot more.

So, anyone want to share their observations on what some markets pay?

I find articles for college alumni magazines might range from $50-$350 per piece, depending on word count, number of interviews needed, where it's appearing (magazine or web site, for example).

You?

#2 Cat Woods

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Posted 01 August 2012 - 09:18 PM

I'll play. Lots of kid magazines offer between $10 and $50 bucks per short story (I'm thinking $35 if fairly standard for the mags I've looked at.). A handful of dollars for poems and either a flat rate or per word fee for articles. It's not going to make you rich by any means, but it gets your name out there.

A great resource for this is the Children's Writer's and Illustrator's Market. http://www.amazon.co...t/dp/1599635992

It costs around $20 and has great articles.

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#3 mwsinclair

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Posted 05 August 2012 - 09:19 AM

Great resources and info, Cat. Thanks for sharing.

#4 Jean Oram

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Posted 06 August 2012 - 06:27 PM

Oooh, I might have to look into that one, Cat. Thanks!

I love connecting with and helping other AQCers outside this forum as well. You can find me all over the place!

If you are looking for more about writing, you may find my blog helpful, as well as my Twitter feed:

*The Helpful Writer *Twitter

If you are a parent, you might be interested in my ideas on growing happy, healthy kids who'll thrive in this ever changing world (includes crafts, activities, games, articles, and fun!):
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#5 RSMellette

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Posted 07 August 2012 - 01:00 AM

I wrote The Xena Scrolls for Universal Studios before they had a New Media department they said there was no money budgeted to pay a writer. I asked if it was possible to sell ads on the site. This was 1994, so I had no idea. I was told, "Contractually, we (Universal) can't make money on this, since our contract with Renaissance Pictures (Rob Tapert & Sam Rami who ran the company that made Xena) doesn't include income from the Internet." So I wrote it for free, figuring there would be something in it for me down the line.

Two years later everyone in Television Information Services, my friends who built Universal's website, were gone. I was sending my writing into a stranger I'd never met who worked for Universal New Media Department, which didn't exist when I started writing The Scrolls.

One day I get a call from this stranger and was ask if I could do some sort of tie-in with the Scrolls and Chess, because they were doing something with IBM and the big Blue chess match. So I took the episode "Hooves and Harlots" and turned it into a chess-themed story. I was told I had to change the name of the Scroll because IBM would never go for that. "I can't," I said, "the Scrolls are named after the episodes, and that one has already aired."

The girl (she sounded like she was 18 years old) didn't understand this. From our conversations she revealed that this wasn't IBM pointing to OUR website, but IBM putting a banner ad on work I wasn't getting paid for. Oh, was she shocked when I told her she couldn't sell ads for the Xena website. (I think they already had).

That's when the lawyers came in. They offered me $3,000 to own the whole thing outright, with no rights if they decided to do a series based on my characters - which hadn't been on the air. I turned them down, and that as the end of that.

For an episode based on the website, I got $6,000 for the story, which was 4 pages long, and another $6,000 when that episode re-ran the week after it aired. I've probably gotten another $6,000 in the dwindling residuals since then. I think my last check was for $25. That was all covered by WGA, so my rights were protected. If they did a series based on THOSE characters, I'd share money with the writing team that did the script and we'd have a bloody fight to the death over "Created by" credit - which is worth... I don't know ... $1,000 an episode(???) That would be $2,000 for each episodes 1st and 2nd run, and 22 eps per year, so $44,000 a year for doing nothing.

And they wanted it for $3,000 flat.

Almost a decade later, the Writer's Guild when on strike over many of the same issues I faced when trying to get a contract for my stuff on the Web.

Moral of the story? It sucks being a trailblazer!

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#6 mwsinclair

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Posted 07 August 2012 - 07:34 AM

Very interesting story, RS. I look back on a contract I was asked to sign for a major nonprofit I was writing for back in the mid-90s (about 1995, I believe). They wanted complete rights to everything with a flat fee. They paid pretty well, actually, but they were asking to use articles in different formats than I'd written them for and not pay me anything additional. Plus, they wanted me to sign a contract that said I'd do this for all work I was commissed to write for them. I respectfully declined. The editorial department never called again. In retrsopect, I probably should have negotiated it differently (although I can't recall if that really was an option), and been willing to write individual pieces that could be released both in their print media and on their Web sites. They certainly paid a fair wage for them. But the Web was such a new medium that most freelance writers didn't know how to price their stuff and had no clear sense of how widely their work would be available -- or the shelf life of each item. We live and learn.

#7 RSMellette

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Posted 07 August 2012 - 09:05 AM

Yeah, those were the cowboy days. I offered to take 1% or even .01% of what the site earned, and Universal New Media was happy with that, but Universal Merchandising stepped in and nixed that. Idiots. I didn't care how much money I made, so long as it scaled with the amount the site made - since, as you said, no one new what intellectual property on the web was worth.

I also knew that any contract I negociated would become a standard for future writers, and I didn't want to dick all of us.

From Elephant's Bookshelf Press

 

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by R.S. Mellette

"WOW. That is the first word that comes to mind when I think about how I felt reading this book - WOW. I was so pleasantly surprised - oh, let's be honest, it was more like blown away!" -- Holy B. In NC, Amazon Review.


#8 alessag

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Posted 24 September 2012 - 08:26 PM

In my experience, children's magazines pay about $0.25/word, topping out at 800 words for a feature or fiction.

Parenting publications (those free monthlies you can pick up in the grocery store) paid about $125-200 for one time rights with limited e-rights on a 1,200 word feature - which you could easily turn around and resell to another parenting pub outside the region for $50. I cut my teeth doing family travel for them.

patch.com pays no more than $50 for ~500 words

My best gig was writing for a youth development monthly at a $1/word. I would get a research article (up to 100 pages) and I had to boil it down to 1,500 words so high school graduates could understand it.
Alessa.

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#9 chris13

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Posted 24 September 2012 - 08:54 PM

Experienced professional writers for national mags get $1-2/word. It's VERY competitive. Websites are all over the place, paywise. If your plan is to build a platform to sell nonfiction, you may want to start with the product first. For fiction, it may be difficult to earn much while pulling in future readers, but if your main goal is to build a platform, you can be successful. Good luck!

#10 jrmcclarren

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Posted 25 November 2012 - 02:01 PM

Hi guys,
Hey, I just returned to AQC after being gone for quite some time. I responded to a thread yesterday, and I am going to pose the thought again for some additional eyes and minds to ponder. It may not coincide with what you were discussing, but it does have to do with platform building and making some money. I very recently started my own blogging site, one to which I had to pay a fair amount of money for mass emailing to individuals interested in the subjects that I will be covering on the site (to the tune of 250,000 emails over the next year and a half or so). I hope I am not crazy for such a move, but I have thought about starting a blogging site for a very long time, but not as a money making venture. It certainly can't hurt me in my platform building, and I am definitely getting my writing out to a great number of people. It may or may not generate a good deal of income (I hope at least enough to cover what I invested). Do any of you have any thoughts about such a move.

#11 Paul Dillon

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Posted 25 November 2012 - 03:44 PM

Blogging can be profitable but few make substantial income. If you have a successful blog, focused on a specific topic, there are opportunities to monetize through ad content networks, affiliate programs like Amazon or marketing your own products (books, videos etc). As far as I can tell, blogging does not work well if you're trying to sell fiction. I've met with people behind some well-known and bestselling non-fiction books and discussed marketing fiction. I was told their techniques wouldn't work for fiction and they have seen no reliable formula for marketing it. Non-fiction is a better fit.

Revenue aside, blogging isn't a complete waste of time - writing can never be a bad thing and you're getting in front of readers. I'd be interested to learn more about your mass-emailing experiences and what audience the blog is targeting.

I hope things go well for you. Good luck.

#12 mwsinclair

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Posted 26 November 2012 - 10:46 AM

Hey, John! Good to hear from you again, you've been on my mind lately. I'd love to hear more about your venture.

#13 Jean Oram

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Posted 27 November 2012 - 12:29 PM

I'm curious about this "mass emailing." I started a newsletter a couple of months ago and have been growing my list organically--people have to sign up for it (permission marketing) to stay within SPAM laws. Have you bought your list from someone? How does it work? How do you stay within SPAM laws? Do you think it will be worth it? Curious minds are... curious!

I love connecting with and helping other AQCers outside this forum as well. You can find me all over the place!

If you are looking for more about writing, you may find my blog helpful, as well as my Twitter feed:

*The Helpful Writer *Twitter

If you are a parent, you might be interested in my ideas on growing happy, healthy kids who'll thrive in this ever changing world (includes crafts, activities, games, articles, and fun!):
*Twitter *Blog *Pinterest *Facebook

 

I write stuff (www.jeanoram.com)

 


#14 Jeanne

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Posted 28 November 2012 - 04:22 PM

I work as a freelance editor and make 2-3k a year, but I take on very few clients. Otherwise, I wouldn't have any time to write. If I wanted to do it full-time, I could probably come close to a living wage (using that term loosely). The pay range for freelance editing is quite broad, depending on your experience: anywhere from $20 to $100+ per hour. The high-end freelance editors have worked for a major publishing house and are now out on their own.

The interesting thing is that I've never advertised for work. My clients seem to find me, mostly by referrals, networking, or the feedback I've given to them or someone else online.

I also teach workshops in my metro area. Although I don't push this as much as I used to, it did provide a nice supplement to our household income for several years. I would teach a workshop for a library or community center, and someone in the class would approach me about teaching a class for their writing group. I've taught workshops to church writing groups, senior citizen writing groups, teen writing groups, etc.

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#15 mwsinclair

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Posted 28 November 2012 - 04:26 PM

Jeanne, that's pretty nice supplemental income from writing/editing if you ask me. I also love that you've had strong referrals. I hadn't thought about teaching for a library. I might have to check that out.

#16 Jeanne

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Posted 28 November 2012 - 05:56 PM

mwsinclair,

When I first started teaching writing workshops, I pitched my ideas to a local community center that was looking for people to teach short-term classes. For those classes to make, I needed a minimum enrollment, so I created a bunch of flyers and hit all the places I could think of where writers like to hang out: barristas, libraries, bookstores, etc. I always asked permission first to post my flyers, and this often generated conversation about the workshops. That's how I found my first library teaching jobs.

The librarian in charge of community events had to approve my flyers. She asked a bunch of questions about my workshops and wanted to know if I would participate in their celebration of writers and readers scheduled the following spring. They hired me for two different workshops that resulted in a turnout of about 75 people each (I was a bit overwhelmed). But that led to another referral. One of the attendees was an event programmer for a different library system in another suburb nearby. They asked me to come to their library. (By the way, I also increased my fees slightly with each group. No one squawked.) That workshop led to another referral. In one year, I taught 6 workshops for different libraries around the Phoenix metro area.

So, my advice is to create a good flyer and talk to the people who want to promote reading and writing. Good luck! I had a lot of fun and met some fascinating people along the way.

Jeanne




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