The Pitfalls Of Freelancing: Spec Articles, Radio Silence And The “Free” In Freelancing

A wise writer once said the following:

Easy reading is dam hard writing.

Whether it is a novel, an article or another document, writing, despite appearances, is hard work. It requires, time, skill, effort and talent. I’ve been a freelancer for nearly three years. While I still have my full-time job, I make time for my writing. That doesn’t mean that it is easy. Below, are three pitfalls that don’t help freelancers.

  1. Spec Writing: A spec is a sample article. It is typically written when either the writer or the publisher is unsure if the potential article would be a good fit for the publication. As a sample article, it’s fine because if it the editor does not feel like it would be a good fit, it’s no big deal. The problem starts when the article is accepted, but the editor thinks that the writer will work for free.  If it is understood (and preferably written down) that there is no payment and the writer will only be getting a byline and another article to add to their portfolio, that’s fine. But when the writer is looking for payment and the editor is looking for a free article, that is another story.
  2. Radio Silence: I get it that publications receive a large number of submissions. Not every publication has the time to respond to every writer who submitted. Some publications may even send a form letter via email. I’ve gotten a fair amount of those. The problem is what I call “radio silence”. It’s when a writer submits an article and hears nothing back. It’s disheartening, to be honest. I would rather hear a hard no rather than radio silence.
  3. The “Free” In Freelance: There is no such thing as “free” in freelance writing. Payment is often on a sliding scale, depending on the publication and the article. Some publications, as I have stated above, can only afford to pay via a byline. I have no problem with that, as long as it is stated beforehand. The problem is when some publications pay next to nothing for a long form piece or a piece that maybe more detail oriented because of research. I’ve stopped counting the number of freelance jobs that want a thousand word article, but the payment is pitiful. Respect me as a writer, respect my work and understand that I deserve to be paid a fair wage for my work, even as a freelancer.

Despite all of this, I still love writing and I still love freelancing. It’s just that some publications and editors make freelancing more difficult than it needs to be.


Terrible Virtue: A Novel Book Review

When we put those we admire on a pedestal, we sometimes forget that the person on the pedestal is a human being with the same faults as any other human being.

Margaret Sanger did not intentionally start out life as a first wave feminist and the originator of Planned Parenthood. Her life and the causes that dominated her life is chronicled in the novel Terrible Virtue: A Novel. Written by Ellen Feldman, the novel starts during Margaret’s early years. She is one of 13 children. Her mother dies young, after years of living through the endless cycle of having a children, working tirelessly to care for her family before having another child.

As an adult, Margaret marries and has three children of her own. She is drawn to the cause of abortion and women’s reproductive health. In spite of the laws at the time, Margaret (who is living in New York City) reaches out to the lower class and immigrant women who desperately need her services. While she is doing this, there are many who are fighting to see her jailed and her ability to help the women in need stopped indefinitely. Adding to the drama, Margaret is feeling the heat at home. Her marriage is falling apart and her children are starting to feel like they are second best.


I really enjoyed reading this book. I really enjoyed it because not only did the writer perfectly show Margaret Sanger as human being (not just a heroine on a pedestal), but also because the same issues that existed in her time sadly still exist in ours.

I absolutely recommend it.


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