In The Atlantic, Joseph Frankel confirms what many writers sensed is the new reality. And it's this: It is increasingly difficult to make a living as a writer. At least the literary or journalistic kind.
Prestige publications used to pay a buck or two a word. The odds are they have reduced that or at least haven't increased that. As for journalism, we all know the kind of wage deflation going on there. In addition, the industry is downsizing.
In more commercial type writing - think Don Draper on "Mad Men" - things haven't been so hot either.
Unless you can get to and stay at the high end, you face a marketplace that nickels and dimes you.
Prospects are well aware of the glut of talent. Refugees from literary writing and journalism have rebranded themselves as content marketing providers, ghostwriters, speechwriters and even technical copywriters. If they are Millennials they have down cold digital. That in itself is knocking some older writers out of the box.
In my casual conversations with commercial freelance writers what I am finding out is that more are deciding to manage the earning risk through part-time jobs in non-writing categories. Those range from counter help in a convenience store to courier for a delivery service.
In addition, those succeeding in part-time jobs are toying with the option of repositioning writing as a very satisfying hobby. After they have experience, for example, in retail customer service they can go on to applying for assistant manager opportunities. Those can pay well. After a few years they are golden and can be totally in charge of just about anything. Managing systems, projects and people usually pays lots better than the word business.
On the other hand, there are those who from the get-go focused on the business of writing. As the marketplace changes, they vary the menu of services and price points. They are the ones buying houses, putting offspring through college and maintaining lucrative investment portfolios.
Takeaway: Writing has become as much a business as being a real estate broker.
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