Recently there have been several local Australian kerfuffles about freelance writing. I have experienced similar issues and many readers I meet ask me this question – “do you make money from the SafetyAtWorkBlog?”
The short answer is “No”. But this is too simple. Readers do not pay me for access and there is no advertising on the blog. However, what the SafetyAtWorkBlog has done has increased my professional profile in the Australian occupational health and safety (OHS) sector so that my consulting and writing has a higher value.
Last week a content provider contacted me to discuss me writing articles for them. They read my blog articles and liked what they saw. They offered a “word rate” of A$0.40 – a word rate is a rate that, for instance, would offer A$200.00 for a 500 word article. Such a word rate may have been legitimately offered twenty years ago but small business costs have increased enormously since then.
Prominent freelance writers can achieve A$1 per word but this is very rare. It is more common to be offered a word rate of A$0.70 – a market rate that has remained almost unchanged for over a decade.
The rate advocated by the Media Entertainment & Arts Alliance (MEAA) in 2012 and still current, is
“1000 words or less – $925.00 then 93c per word”.
The MEAA calculates this rate based on the need to cover freelancer (small) business costs.
Customers need to realise that the price they pay now is based on, in my case, a couple of decades’ worth of advice, consulting, study and writing. It is unreasonable to expect to pay any experienced professional base-grade rates and yet when it comes to writing, people do.
Some would say that I am giving away my writing for free in the SafetyAtWorkBlog. It may look that way but there is a lot of writing that occurs “off-blog” and for this I seek payment. There are also cases where, if my articles are used elsewhere, Australia’s Copyright Agency obtains a payment for use. I also use software that searches the internet for articles that have a strong resemblance to my articles and can seek reuse payments or ask for the articles to be removed.
The freelance writing sector is not served well by people providing content to magazines and other media at no cost, although there may be quid pro quos that are similar to the use of “advertorials“, a type of article that seems to dominate trade publications.
I sometimes agree to write about events, conferences, seminars or books in return for a “media pass” or a “review copy” but there is a professional understanding that the review or article remains independent. The article could be positive or negative and that is the risk taken by offering such access to an independent media. Any arrangements of this type are usually noted in the article or as a footnote.
The basis for this “understanding” is that any journalist applies the Code of Ethics. It is worth establishing in any early discussions with freelance writers whether they subscribe to this Code.
Some people ask why I don’t use advertising to get some financial return on the blog. I could do this but every spare space on the web page would need to be filled with ads to gain a decent return from internet/clickthrough ads of the type Google promotes. Also I have no, or little, control over who advertises on my site through Google Ads and I don’t want my readers to see ads of semi-clad women who are lonely in a suburb next to them. I do not think the effort, or relinquishing control over my blog site, to be worth it.
This is a small taste of many of the talks I have presented over the years about the use of social media. It is a complex business and it is extremely rare to make a livable wage from any blog, especially one that deals with the niche area of OHS, without selling products or services.