Preparing to shoot a few segments of Big Jon in 5 for BEER2WHISKEY in our upstairs studio at Barley's Taproom in downtown Greenville. That's owner Josh Beebe preparing for his closeup.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Pros and Cons of Paid Assignments

I am actually fretting over a couple of paid assignments at the moment. What a nice change of pace that is. Paid, paid, paid, paid...what a wonderful word; even if it is a concept with which I have all too little contact these days. I'm going to be paid! Wow, that has a pleasant ring to it.

In the old freelance writing game, getting the assignment is only a small fraction of the battle. If the story requires citing sources and presenting quotes, research becomes the bulk of the effort. Writing? Heck, writing is the easy part. Trying to figure out who can provide background and facts for the story, and then somehow getting them on the phone; that's the time-consuming, gut-wrenching, put-a-gun-in-my-mouth part. Don't worry; I don't own a gun. Not yet, anyway.

Depending on the topic, securing a qualified source for some assignments is easier than others. The two stories I am currently struggling with each have a negative aspect that is making potential sources shy away. I have solved that problem with one of the stories, but not the other. Usually tossing around the name of my client sufficiently greases the wheels to get me an audience. However, for my second assignment it is a liability. Apparently another of my client's writers, working on an earlier story, didn't treat this source particularly well. Even with all my charm -- and I have plenty -- I may not be able to overcome this objection. As he tries to make up his mind, I am shopping for another source.

Once the piece is written, I then have to deal with editors who may or may not have a clue what I'm writing about. When they don't, it's typically problematic. I'm lucky that I don't face a lot of rewrites, but a few is too many.

Finally comes (what in the last two years has become) the really tough part: getting paid. Even clients who do pay, often take their good old time. And those are the good ones. I currently have several outstanding invoices from the same client and damn little chance of ever seeing the dough. At least with nonpaying gigs, I don't have to worry about this final step.

So that's the life of a freelance writer: fret, worry, research, write, invoice, fret, worry, and maybe get paid. What a job.

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