"A Room of One's Own." That's what famous thought leader and novelist, Virginia Woof, framed as a must for human dignity, the ability to reflect and creative achievement. It was targeted at women and included not only physical space but also an independent income. Woolf published that in 1929.
If Woolf were writing in 2015, she might drop the room part, focus on just the money and target the essay at all writers. Right now, many of us, even at the top of the food chain in ghostwriting and speechwriting, are facing:
Wage deflation and Shabby Treating.
That's primarily because there's a glut of scribes out there. Those tossed out of establishment media are struggling to remain in the writing business. Therefore, they will accept subpar compensation, as well as disrespect. Moreover, those with MFAs, eager to break in, will even labor for free or for peanuts.
The proven way to navigate that worsening situation for writers is to be able to negotiate from a position of strength. And, yes, negotiation is an option. More to the point, we often get not only the assignment and the low-bidding competition didn't but also the number we specify. Specifying a fair wage for our work and reasonable deadlines seems to send the signal that our work is in the premium class. Prospects will pay.
One way we can establish that platform is by having guaranteed income. That rules out the need to have any one assignment or job to keep the wolf from the door. For a while, I had a Washington D.C. public relations firm on retainer. That monthly check freed me up to pick and choose assignments.
Now I have an onsite part-time job. I really do go into the organization, which can't be beat for networking. The check comes twice a month. And the hours can be plentiful enough (OT is available) that I can make it on just those. The best part, at least for me, is that that I am learning and leveraging new skills. They are related to writing but aren't writing per se. I have a hunch that could be where the communications work of the future will be.
An income of one's own could come from jobs and assignments in other lines of businesses or non-profits. The official name for that approach to paying the bills is: multiple sources of income.
A brandname in the communications business, whom I did promotional digital assignments for, started out as a journalist at a cool publication. Then he became a book author in the inspirational niche. Currently he travels the nation delivering how-tos on creativity. On the side, of course, he still writes. My hunch is that on his tours he will figure out additional ways to make a buck.